Jan. 1, 2011 | Mark Twain admitted to foibles: "I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness"... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Capitalism makes vast wealth, but does not create a permanent overclass. Were that the case, Forbes''s rich list would still be Morgans and Carnegies'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'H.L. Mencken''s beguiling style was at once rollicking and astringent. With merry disdain, he probed the American â??booboisieâ?'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Niccolo Machiavelli was an amoebic being: imperialist, proto-libertarian, atheist, neo-pagan, Christian, lover of freedom, tutor to despots, armchair strategist... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Maybe Cardinal Newman was right: higher education does not exist for the sake of training, but to turn undergrads into more interesting people... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Bruce Chatwin did not die of AIDS, but of a fungus that attacked his brain. This turned his restlessness into a hypomanic frenzy marked by crazy plans... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Fewer and fewer civilian politicians who now send troops into battle know what war is actually like. They are more likely than ever to choose violent force... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Russian roulette is not a game volcanoes lose. Which does not keep those who live nearby from treating their local volcano as a mascot or lucky charm... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | In fiction, V.S. Naipaul has a gorgeous empathy for humiliated peoples. In nonfiction, he can be cruel, dismissive. Here he is on African religions... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Did the Polish merchant care if he was shot by Hitler because he was a Jew or by Stalin because he was a capitalist? Genocide is such a slippery word... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | The Original Mad Man. Albert Laskerâ?'s genius for selling anything from avocados to sanitary napkins had a deep and lasting influence on American life... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Mikhail Kalashnikovâ?'s AK-47 has long been shrouded in Soviet doublespeak. Its inventor may not have been a lone proletarian genius, but still... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Lynd Ward links Albrecht Dürer''s Bible pictures, made for people who couldn''t read, to Art Spiegelman''s graphic novels, created for people who could'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Sam Harris is a moral realist: he holds moral questions have objectively right or wrong answers. It''s consequences that count'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Bob Geldof and Bono used Live Aid to rescue their careers. They sincerely wished to help Ethiopians, too. But did they?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | The Hermaphrodite was denounced by moralists as soon as it was published in 1425. Its lurid poems have delighted decadents ever since... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Civil War what-iffers: What if Lincoln had let the South secede? Slavery had been allowed? One side had won a half-dozen battles at the outset?... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Noël Coward danced along the divide between his life and his art, knocking off songs between tea and cocktails, writing a play in three days... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Germanness long predates an all-German state. Protestantism, literacy, universities, and Jewish citizens devoted to high culture all played a role... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'The inferno inside a jet engine is hotter than the surface of the sun and would melt the turbine''s blades if not for clever management of airflow'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | Ladies, find your inner geisha: that doll-like woman with her silk kimono, scarlet lips, and exotic sex techniques. Easy to ridicule. Maybe too easy... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | 'Stanley Cavell''s intellectual journey must ever "begin again," must revisit and re-examine assumptions that have gone untested'... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | With his prodigious talent, parents who loved him to bits, and a piano teacher named Marietta Clinkscales, Duke Ellington could only succeed... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | At its height, the British Empire had more Muslim subjects than any other empire ever. It counted as subjects over one in three of the worldâ?'s Muslims... more »


Jan. 1, 2011 | The torture of walking into a bookshop today: yes, the fiction will very likely be competent, but without being genuinely beautiful. Who to blame?... more »


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