Although Landscapes requires some observational flexibility to experience with a feeling of cohesion, these worldly essays...

LANDSCAPES

JOHN BERGER ON ART

Landscapes in the loosest, most metaphorical sense of the term, this illuminating compilation of essays by Berger (Portraits, 2015, etc.) aims to situate a range of art criticism into an accessible realm.

“People, many people, have lost all their political bearings,” writes the author in “Ten Dispatches about Place.” “Mapless, they do not know where they are heading.” In Berger’s latest collection, editor Overton compiles a selection of essays from the 1950s to today that function as maps to guide one’s way of thinking about a place, idea, or philosophy. Berger is a masterful observer, a trait that lends his writing a profound element of artistry: these essays, often economically executed in under eight pages, read like sketched studies of an as-yet-painted masterwork. In the 1987 essay “To Take Paper, to Draw,” Berger explains that drawing can function in three different ways: “There are those that study and question the visible; those that record and communicate ideas; and those done from memory.” These deft essays fall into this rubric as well. Centerpieces like the “The Moment of Cubism” and “Parade and the Beginning of Surrealism” study and question art as a mirror of society and propose instead “the model of the diagram”; these texts are indispensable for any student of art history and should be required reading in collegiate seminars. Alternatively, some essays lumber toward the philosophical and societal: texts on Max Raphael, Frederick Antal, and Berger’s own Marxism swirl, at times impenetrably, with revolutionary ideas. But it’s those essays “from memory,” like “Kraków” and “Stones (Palestine, June 2003),” which open and close the compilation, that exemplify Berger not only as a fine philosopher, but a traveler striving to record the aching, confounding beauty of the world around him.

Although Landscapes requires some observational flexibility to experience with a feeling of cohesion, these worldly essays are timeless, inspiring works of critical observation.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78478-584-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more