Is the internet "the great masterpiece of...civilization"?
Virginia Heffernan photographed by Francis Hill
The internet elicits a vast catalog of thoughts, emotions, and responses: joy, wonder, anger, awe, excitement, frustration, celebration, outrage, laughter, sadness, surprise, pride, disgust, etc., ad infinitum. Since its invention—and especially since the onset of what many experts call Web 2.0—countless articles and books have attempted to not only chronicle the history of the internet and its myriad uses, but also to capture the nature of our often fraught relationship with it.
However, few books have viewed the web ...
Rien Fertel photographed by Rush Jagoe.
In many areas of the American South, there are fewer surefire ways to incite an argument than to discuss either the Civil War or the merits of a specific region’s form of barbecue. In Texas, beef is king; Kansas City does beef, pork, and nearly any other animal, all doused in plenty of sweet, tomato-based sauce. In my home state of South Carolina, it’s all about the pork, especially pulled pork from a pork shoulder (or “Boston butt”), often topped ...
Erik Kirschbaum photographed by Jakob Stielow.
When former German World Cup champion Jürgen Klinsmann took over the reins of the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2011, American soccer fans were excited about the future of the team. Since then, the results have been decidedly mixed, with historic highs followed by inexplicable losses to inferior opponents—not to mention the controversial decision to leave Landon Donovan off the 2014 World Cup roster.
In Soccer Without Borders, Germany-based foreign correspondent Erik Kirschbaum comes down firmly in the pro-Klinsmann ...
The reissue of George Plimpton's sports books.
I usually don’t pay much attention to reissues, but I make exceptions based on a variety of factors, including the quality of the writer in question, the freshness of the new material, and whether or not the writer of the new foreword or introduction has anything intriguing to add. All of those factors are in play with Little, Brown’s April 26 reissue of George Plimpton’s sports books, including Paper Lion, one of my personal favorites.
I’ve always been a fan ...
Songs that are calls to action
Bob Boilen, the creator and host of NPR Music’s All Songs Considered and founder of the Tiny Desk Concert series, describes his first book, Your Song Changed My Life, as a “story of how a song can be a call to action, to pick up an instrument or a pen, to find your voice, to spill your soul and change your life—and, perhaps, someone else’s.”
In this collection, 35 musicians discuss the songs that altered their lives, in many ...
Trying to understand American violence.
The Way of the Gun
On the heels of three more recent mass shootings—in Kalamazoo, Michigan (6 dead), Glendale, Arizona (5 dead), and Hesston, Kansas (4 dead)—we are forced yet again to confront our relationship with weapons and what I—and millions of others—consider to be woefully inadequate gun laws.
Countless books have explored the history of weapons, guns in particular, and their appeal across generations, many of them written with distinct political agendas in mind (both pro- and anti-gun). On March 22, British journalist ...
An eye-opening book on the housing crisis that often goes unnnoticed.
Matthew Desmond photographed by Michael Kienitz.
Each month, when I pay my mortgage, I experience three distinct thoughts: 1) damn, that principal never seems to go down; 2) I am fortunate to own a nice home with a reasonable mortgage I can afford; 3) I am grateful to be rid of rent payments and the endless hassles that attend tenancy.
While those thoughts haven’t changed over the past years, the third one acquired greater resonance after I finished reading the new book by Harvard University sociologist ...
Books for the true sports fanatic.
Rise and Fire by Shawn Fury.
In February, the sports-focused part of my brain—which is, admittedly, perhaps a bit too pronounced—turns its attention from football to basketball. This month, two new books will assist me in that mental transition.
In Rise and Fire, journalist Shawn Fury digs into the history of basketball to examine the jump shot, noting how, surprisingly, it hasn’t always been a part of the game. However, as our reviewer noted, “the jump shot created offense, and Fury elevates it to yet higher ...