Books

How Reading Changes Your Brain Can Actually Make You A Better & More Positive Person

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I’m in grad school right now, and we’ve been reading three of Irish writer Samuel Beckett’s very challenging novels. By Annakeara Stinson Elite Daily TBH, the reading sort of makes me feel like my mind is crawling through a maze to understand the words, simply because the prose is so dense, and the ideas are pretty damn existential. While I enjoy it, it also legit makes my brain hurt as I’m taking notes and trying to process everything. But you know ... Read More »

Enrico Fermi: nuclear physicist and childish practical joker

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The Nobel prize-winner was an undoubted genius. But his fascist sympathies and teasing cruelty alienated his family and colleagues. Andrew Crumey The Spectator Enrico Fermi may not be a name as familiar as Einstein, Feynman or Hawking, but he was one of the greatest figures of 20th-century physics, with a reputation for infallibility. In Rome, pioneering atomic science under Mussolini, he was nicknamed ‘the Pope’. Escaping to America where he created the world’s first nuclear reactor, he was dubbed ‘the ... Read More »

The secret to Henry Kissinger’s success

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29:  Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee January 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the topic of global challenges and U.S. national security strategy.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Many think the retired diplomat’s closeness to one man — Richard Nixon — was the source of his power. That gets Kissinger dangerously wrong. By NIALL FERGUSON Politico About halfway through writing my biography of Henry Kissinger, an interesting hypothesis occurred to me: Did the former secretary of state owe his success, fame and notoriety not just to his powerful intellect and formidable will but also to his exceptional ability to build an eclectic network of relationships, not only to ... Read More »

Revising or Applying the Just War Tradition?

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire a 120mm mortar during a tactical training exercise on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014. Rangers constantly train to maintain the highest level of tactical proficiency. (US Army photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Newkirk/Not Reviewed)

Review of Dubik’s Just War Reconsidered Surely it was not a coincidence that my exposure to James M. Dubik’s Just War Reconsidered coincided with my reading of a memoir by one of now retired Lt. General Dubik’s esteemed U.S. Army colleagues. J. Daryl Charles Providence As Dubik informs the reader, General Stanley McChrystal, who commanded special operations forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan, took the responsibilities for that command with utmost seriousness. During the dark period of the Iraq conflict in ... Read More »

Book revelations put new focus on Donald Trump’s mental health

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Yale psychiatric professor who briefed members of Congress last month tells the Guardian ‘the danger has become imminent’ Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House review – tell-all burns all Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington The Guardian The revelations in Michael Wolff’s explosive book about Donald Trump’s first year in office have renewed scrutiny of the president’s mental health Although the White House has denounced Wolff’s Fire and Fury as “complete fantasy”, the book sheds light on concerns among top White ... Read More »

Che, Stalin, Mussolini and the Thinkers Who Loved Them

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Why are intellectuals and thinkers, who normally face persecution and risk under dictatorial regimes, nonetheless attracted to tyrants and would-be liberators? Aram Bakshian Jr. The National Interest  Paul Hollander, From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez: Intellectuals and a Century of Political Hero Worship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 325 pp., $29.99. WE LIVE in the age of self-proclaimed “public intellectuals,” although precisely what they are has never been adequately explained. Are public intellectuals, like public transportation, providers of a…  Che, Stalin, Mussolini… Read More »

Pushkin’s pride: how the Russian literary giant paid tribute to his African ancestry

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His black great-grandfather was abducted as a child and raised in Peter the Great’s court. A new Pushkin translation includes the little-known history of Russia’s Shakespeare Jonathan McAloon The Guardian For Russians, Alexander Pushkin inhabits a space beyond taste, where nationalism has given subjective art the patina of fact. He is the undisputed father of their literature in the way Shakespeare is for Brits. Given the insular nature of contemporary Russian politics, it might be hard to imagine that the creator of ... Read More »

Pick up a book and share it with a child: it’s the key to success in an uncertain future

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Parents often ask me what they ought to do to prepare their children for a future they can scarcely imagine, in a world that’s changing before their eyes. Alan Finkel ABC I say that there’s a brilliant learning technology already on the shelf. It builds vocabulary, conveys knowledge, fosters creativity, improves concentration, develops skills of reasoning and pattern recognition, calms anxiety and opens discussions … all this, while nurturing love and… Pick up a… Read More »

Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in Timor Sea, Kim McGrath

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“Kissingerian realism” and an associated hard nose for the “national interest”, or “Wilsonian idealism”? Robert Murray The Australian Nowhere has this timeless tension in foreign affairs challenged Canberra more than over our nearest neighbour, East Timor. It has made prime ministers from William McMahon to Malcolm Turnbull look mean and tricky, and yet, Kim McGrath suggests in this brisk account of it all, it might be one of those ­issues where the Wilsonian approach would have served the national interest ... Read More »

Reading Norman Davies’s global history is like wading through porridge

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From Azerbaijan to Tahiti, much of the material is familiar — or available (as Davies himself admits) on Wikipedia For many of us, life has become global. Philip Hensher The Spectator Areas which were previously tranquil backwaters are now hives of international activity Leisure travel has given us the possibility of first-hand exposure to once very remote places. You don’t have to be particularly privileged or adventurous to go on holiday in January to south-east Asia: two weeks in a ... Read More »

‘Slow, painful death’ of Yazidi woman’s body and soul while enslaved by the Islamic State

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The Islamic State’s attempt to exterminate the Yazidi people of Iraq did not involve only murder Alia Malek When the militants swept through the north of the country after taking Mosul in the summer of 2014, they executed the religious minority group’s men and elderly women. The Washington Post The children and the other women they took captive. They brainwashed and conscripted the young boys and turned the women and girls into sexual slaves. This enslavement was justified by edicts ... Read More »

Mythos review – the Greek myths get the Stephen Fry treatment

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Fry’s retellings have stiff competition, are limited in selection and sometimes appear to be set in North London Edith Hall But they have real charm The Guardian Ever since William Godwin persuaded Charles Lamb to retell The Odyssey as a novel for younger readers in The Adventures of Ulysses (1808), the myths of ancient Greece have been retold in contemporary prose by every generation. Most of these retellings were originally poetry – the epics of Hesiod, Homer and the philhellene Latin poet Ovid, the ... Read More »

RIP Edward Herman, Who Co-Wrote a Book That’s Now More Important Than Ever

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Edward Herman, the co-author (with Noam Chomsky) of Manufacturing Consent, has died. By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone He was 92. rsn His work has never been more relevant. Manufacturing Consent was a kind of bible of media criticism for a generation of dissident thinkers. The book described with great clarity how the system of private commercial media in America cooperates with state power to generate propaganda. Herman’s work was difficult for many to understand because the nature of the American media, then ... Read More »

Photos of the New Futuristic Library in China with 1.2 Million Books

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China recently opened a new futuristic library that contains a staggering 1.2 million books Michael Zhang If you enjoy architectural photography, Dutch photographer Ossip van Duivenbode‘s images of the library will be a feast for your eyes. PetaPilexThe new Tianjin Binhai Library in Tianjin, China, was designed by the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV to look like a giant eye. The five-story, 360,000-square-foot library features shelves spanning from the floor to ceiling — many of the shelves double as stairs and seats in the ... Read More »

‘We are not very caring’: Michelle de Kretser on Australian society

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In her new novel The Life to Come, the Miles Franklin-winning author critiques Australia’s character, and the boom that made us bad Brigid Delaney The Guardian Children of Australia’s long boom – who travel the world only to complain about lack of good coffee, who signal virtue by retweeting an asylum seeker story, who couldn’t imagine living in a house with only one bathroom, who are “really into food” – may find Michelle de Kretser’s new book an uncomfortable read. ... Read More »

How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece

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Ganesh Sitaraman looks at what two recent books – Classical Greek Oligarchy by Matthew Simonton and Oligarchy by Jeffrey Winters – can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs Ganesh Sitaraman The Guardian A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don’t want to ... Read More »