Jan. 1, 2011 | V.S. Naipaul among the natives. How to explain his passion for foreign places and peoples? Curiosity and racist snobbery... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Vodka - no color, no taste - made no sense to A.J. Liebling, a brown-spirits man. He had a point: It''s the chicken breast of libations'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | In 1915, as Edward Thomas prepared to flee the war in Europe, a poem arrived from his friend Robert Frost. "The Road Not Taken" changed everything ... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | For the swaggering titans of mid-20th-century literature, violence was their muse. Then Joseph Heller dismantled their greatest subject... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Back-of-the-envelope calculation: Over the past 10,000 years, humans have created 10,000 religions and 1,000 gods. Why?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | In 1932, William Shirer, a reporter in Paris, was abruptly fired from his job at the Chicago Tribune. On a whim, he took off for Berlin... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Brandishing scads of data, Robert Pape argues that suicide terrorism is not motivated by Islam. But what''s motivating Pape?'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | The public palate. Wines today are presented like photographs in lad mags: Attributes enhanced and airbrushed to satisfy a commercial ideal... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Reading David Foster Wallace is like being trapped in a room with a hyperarticulate obsessive-compulsive. Irksome, but brilliant... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Is Google evil? Probably not. But it is trying to read your mind. On the upside, it''s saving you keystrokes'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Knotted: How the Necktie Changed the World. Yeah, sure. The plague of publishing these days is to mistake ubiquity for significance... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Giro d''Italia, 1956. Fiorenzo Magni fell, broke his collarbone and arm, kept pedaling - and finished second. To think: He wasn''t even doping'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Umberto Eco is fascinated by fallibility. His vast personal library includes the works of the errant Ptolemy, not the accurate Galileo... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Ladies loved Franz Liszt. The virtuosic composer and cad was the Mick Jagger of his day, trysting his way from Coventry to Kiev... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Mark Lynas once hurled a pie at Bjorn Lomborg, saying: "That''s for lying about climate change." Now he''s targeting fellow environmentalists'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Viagra in the agora. The little blue pill gives rise to enduring philosophical insights. But if they linger for more than four hours, consult a doctor... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Beware of benevolence. History''s world improvers have been indifferent to actual human suffering, and quite willing to kill with kindness'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Amid life''s trials, some consult the Bible or the Koran, the I-Ching or Twitter feeds. But more and more people turn to the feel-good gospel of Oprah'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Mark Twain, swaddled in a white suit of self-promotion, dictated a snoozy, egotistical autobiography. So what? The man deserved to strut... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Colin Thubron is heir to a vanishing tradition of wryly patrician, English travel writers who trade openly in the strange and beautiful... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Your dog loves you even more than you think. But here''s the rub: That adorable, knowing look doesn''t mean she''s capable of complex emotions'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Stealing Rembrandts. Only Picasso has been more frequently pilfered. But art theft is pointless theft: What can you do with a heisted painting?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | The era of the nonspecialist intellectual is over. These days, aspiring Irving Howes need to master monetary theory... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Darwin has displaced Hegel as a political thinker, suggests Francis Fukuyama. Is this the end of the end of history?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Told that he''d won a Nobel Prize, Richard Feynman balked. He had a radical disdain for royalty, even though his science was conservative'... more »


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