A Voice for the Voiceless

Poet Charles Simic celebrates the late Philip Levine, a working class writer from Jewish Detroit who spoke for the middle class and saw the extraordinary in ordinary life. It’s refreshing to talk about poetry instead of Trump sometimes.
Published: Jun 22, 2017
Length: 13 minutes (3,345 words)

The Art of Difference

With the publication of two books and new gallery showings featuring photographer Diane Arbus, Hilton Als explores her work, writings, artistic motivation, and her uncanny ability to capture on film the humanity of the “freaks” — the marginalized people — who were the subjects of her work.

Author: Hilton Als
Published: Jun 8, 2017
Length: 17 minutes (4,301 words)

Lessons from Hitler’s Rise

Confucius said, “Study the past if you would define the future.” A good place to start is this newly translated biography of Hitler.

Published: Apr 20, 2017
Length: 16 minutes (4,092 words)

‘Fuck’-ing Around

The history of swearing is more than just an evolution of social mores — it’s also a politically charged narrative at the “intersection of anger and gaiety.”

Published: Jan 23, 2017
Length: 12 minutes (3,235 words)

Pause! We Can Go Back!

Bill McKibben’s review of the new David Sax book, The Revenge of Analog, is itself a great read on the virtues and affectations newly-hip analog items — Moleskins, Scrabble boards, vinyl records.

Published: Feb 9, 2017
Length: 11 minutes (2,959 words)

Murderous Manila: On the Night Shift

“No one will be safe until many, many more have died.” In a dispatch from Manila, James Fenton describes the current war on drugs in the Philippines and two types of killings: “buy-bust” operations and EJKs, or extrajudicial killings.

Published: Feb 9, 2017
Length: 13 minutes (3,416 words)

When Public Goes Private, as Trump Wants: What Happens?

Diane Ravitch on the future of charter schools and public schools under President-Elect Trump.

Published: Nov 18, 2016
Length: 19 minutes (4,752 words)

Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Russian emigree Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, offers sobering pointers on how to survive under—and stand in uncompromising resistance to—the rule of a totalitarian autocrat.

Published: Nov 10, 2016
Length: 10 minutes (2,554 words)

The Genius of James Brown

As big a musical figure as James Brown is, it’s hard for some of us to appreciate how much Brown defined the 1960s while avoiding being contained by them. A non-traditional book eschews standard biography in order to make sense of the complex, contradictory, lingering genius of the Godfather of Soul ─ Mr. Dynamite himself ─ without expecting all the answers.

Published: Aug 15, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,566 words)

Fences: A Brexit Diary

“When everyone’s building a fence, isn’t it a true fool who lives out in the open?” Zadie Smith reflects on post-Brexit Britain.

Published: Aug 18, 2016
Length: 18 minutes (4,557 words)