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)

A Stark Nuclear Warning

Ours is an era of anxiety: fear of terrorism, fear of climate change, fear of gun violence and police shootings and mass shootings and the current high stakes presidential election. Add to that the extreme risk even a small scale nuclear attack poses to our society, and the historical paranoia, politics and economics that got us here.

Published: Jul 14, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,580 words)

In the Depths of the Digital Age

“Virginia Woolf’s serious joke that “on or about December 1910 human character changed” was a hundred years premature. Human character changed on or about December 2010, when everyone, it seemed, started carrying a smartphone.”

Published: Jun 23, 2016
Length: 16 minutes (4,098 words)