The timely, memorial edition of Elie Wiesel’s <i>Night</i>
Photo courtesy of Sergey Bermeniev
“Jews will not replace us!”
That was just one of the many vile chants emanating from the neo-Nazis/white supremacists (“alt-right” is a woefully inadequate moniker) in Charlottesville over the weekend of Aug. 12. The rally culminated with the tragic death of a young woman protesting the supremacists’ messages of hate, followed by a tepid, hedged—and, ultimately, completely unacceptable—response from Donald Trump.
Given the persistence of such bigotry, there is no better time to revisit one of the foundational ...
Ellen Ullman photographed by Marion Etlinger
You don’t have to be a techie to appreciate computer programmer Ellen Ullman’s new book, Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology, which our reviewer calls, in a starred review, “a sharply written, politically charged memoir of life in the data trenches.” Indeed, Ullman, author of the pioneering book Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents (1997), is equally adept probing philosophical and ethical (and even semispiritual) questions as she is the extremely complex data that ...
Some of this month’s excellent nonfiction
Heading into the heart of summer in Charleston, South Carolina, where I live, sometimes it’s too hot for anything except hunkering down in the air conditioning with a good book. Here are seven to check out this July, with quotes from our reviews.
The Unwomanly Face of War
by Svetlana Alexievich
“The Nobel laureate writes about ‘the wrong kind of war’: oral confessions from Russian women intimately involved with fighting for the motherland….Essential reading full of remarkable emotional wealth ...
New globe-trotting nonfiction
Summer means travel, and travel means discovery. Here are 10 July books that offer stimulating (but not always pleasant) explorations of various locales around the globe.
To the New Owners, Madeleine Blais
An “unfailingly charming reminiscence of summers spent on [Martha’s Vineyard].”
We Are Syrians, Adam Braver
“Three Syrians who have faced down their country’s police state tell their respective first-person stories.”
A Paris All Your Own, Eleanor Brown
“A quick and fun read that should delight seasoned ...
Language lessons from a master
Words matter. While most readers of this magazine would agree with that basic statement, our current president seems to be unfamiliar with that truth, and it seems he has plenty of fellow bunglers in his circle. In the face of the administration’s daily assault on intelligible English, and given that effective communication is a fundamental element of our humanity, the study of language is perhaps more important than ever.
For decades, British linguist and author David Crystal has investigated nearly ...
Rafe Bartholmew’s new memoir Two and Two
Rafe Bartholomew photographed by Leslie Gonzales.
Generally, I don’t miss living in New York City. Though I wouldn’t trade the experiences of my six years in NYC for anything—one positive, of course, was that I found a job at Kirkus—I grew weary of the pace and chaos and needed to make a change.
People frequently ask what I miss most about New York, and the answer is always the same: friends, food, and music. I have all of these necessities in abundance in Charleston, but the ...
A few excellent new books about the environment
Donald Trump and his cohorts are at it again, continuing with their efforts to roll back nearly every gain that the Obama administration was able to make regarding the environment and climate change. As Slate notes, Trump’s latest executive order, “much like the disastrous and cruel Muslim ban…attempts to fix a problem of Donald Trump’s invention.” Given the current administration’s head-in-the-sand stance on climate change and desire to continue down an unsustainable path, I believe it is more important ...
With the continuing news regarding the Trump administration’s plans to ignore human-caused climate change, gut the EPA, and generally disdain the natural sciences, it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to books about nature, the environment, and other similar topics. In that spirit, I put forward the following significant books as we enter what is likely to be the hottest spring on record (thanks, Chinese hoaxsters):
The Gulf by Jack E. Davis
“In light of the 2010 devastation ...