Tag Archives: The New York Review of Books

The New York Review Of Books – June 22, 2023


The New York Review of Books – June 22, 2023 issue: Fara Dabhoiwala on the ingenious index, Ingrid D. Rowland on Guido Reni’s questing soul, Rachel Donadio on Nathalie Sarraute’s sensual eviscerations, Steve Coll on the Taliban’s second emirate, Jessica Riskin on the poisoning of Jane Stanford, Ruth Franklin on Ken Burns’s The US and the Holocaust, Gary Saul Morson on Tolstoy’s conversion, Ed Vulliamy on the Native Americans of California, Linda Greenhouse on judging the Rosenbergs, Gregory Hays on our feline friends, poems by Shane McCrae and Fernando Pessoa, and much more.

Life Is Short. Indexes Are Necessary.

By Fara Dabhoiwala

Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age by Dennis Duncan

In his new history of the index, Dennis Duncan traces its evolution through the constantly changing character of reading itself.

In 1941 an ambitious Philadelphia pediatrician, the wonderfully named Waldo Emerson Nelson, became the editor of America’s leading textbook of pediatrics. For the next half-century the compilation of successive editions of this large volume advanced his career, consumed his weekends, and encroached heavily on his domestic life. 

Who Are the Taliban Now?

By Steve Coll

Taliban members walking past a mural on the former US embassy, Kabul

The Return of the Taliban: Afghanistan After the Americans Left by Hassan Abbas

Hassan Abbas’s book surveys the second Islamic Emirate’s ideology and leading personalities and probes its internal tensions.

Nearly two years after the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul, the UN refers to the regime only as “the de facto authorities,” to avoid any hint of formal recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their government. By any name, the Taliban today control Afghanistan’s territory, as well as federal ministries and local administrations. They also preside over a nation in severe crisis. Food insecurity haunts at least half of the population; a country shattered by more than four decades of war again faces the shadow of famine.


The New York Review Of Books — June 8, 2023

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The New York Review of Books (June 8, 2023) – Sacagawea after Lewis & Clark, Cryptocurrency reflects a radical marketization of politics, Nicole Flattery’s Factory Girls and more.

The Price of Crypto

A cryptocurrency mine, Gondo, Switzerland

By Trevor Jackson

Despite its boosters’ frequent references to democracy and freedom, cryptocurrency reflects a radical marketization of politics in which major players can rewrite the rules as needed.

The Cryptopians: Idealism, Greed, Lies, and the Making of the First Big Cryptocurrency Craze by Laura Shin

Proof of Stake: The Making of Ethereum and the Philosophy of Blockchains by Vitalik Buterin, edited by Nathan Schneider

None of this had to happen. In the fall of 2008, amid the great shipwreck of the international financial order, an anonymous person or group of persons writing under the name Satoshi Nakamoto proposed a new electronic cash system called Bitcoin. In the “white paper” proposing the system, initially circulated to a cryptography mailing list, Nakamoto claimed that it would “allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” 

Ideal Detachments

Kevin Power

Tracing the memories of an employee at Andy Warhol’s Factory, Nicole Flattery’s Nothing Special dramatizes a young woman’s self-scrutiny in an era defined by male looking and listening.

Nothing Special by by Nicole Flattery

The New York Review Of Books – May 25, 2023


The New York Review of Books – May 25, 2023 issue: Michael Hofmann on Goethe’s last years, Jerome Groopman on the business of biotech, Joan Acocella on Balanchine, Jed S. Rakoff on William O. Douglas’s environmentalism, Adam Hochschild on 1619 and 1776, Willa Glickman on grassroots labor unions, Brenda Wineapple on Susanna Moore, Ian Johnson on art looters, Jenny Uglow on Samuel Pepys and the wreck of the HMS Gloucester, Nicholas Guyatt on financing the Civil War, Elaine Blair on how we talk about sexual assault, poems by Eugene Ostashevsky, D. Nurske, and Ama Codjoe, and much more.

Bewitched by Goethe

In Johann Eckermann, Goethe found an amanuensis made in heaven.

Conversations with Goethe: In the Last Years of His Life by Johann Peter Eckermann, translated from the German by Allan Blunden, with an introduction and notes by Ritchie Robertson

A strange time to publish—strange time to publish anything—a translation of Eckermann’s  Conversations with Goethe (or should that be Goethe’s Conversations with Eckermann?), in six hundred static, major-key pages that can easily feel like twice as many. The big man, himself by now somewhat fallen on hard times, recorded by the little acolyte.

Saving Lives and Making a Killing

A new book reveals the split personality of the biotech industry: an altruistic enterprise that creates breakthrough treatments for patients in need, and a bare-knuckle business that seeks to generate astronomic profits and stop competitors from developing better treatments.

For Blood and Money: Billionaires, Biotech, and the Quest for a Blockbuster Drug by Nathan Vardi

A research scientist for Pharmacyclics working in a lab, Sunnyvale, California

A research scientist for Pharmacyclics, Sunnyvale, California, 2013. In For Blood and Money, Nathan Vardi writes that when Pharmacyclics—which developed ibrutinib, a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia—was bought by the pharmaceutical giant AbbVie in 2015 for $21 billion, ‘the deal…set the new high-water mark for success in the biotechnology industry.’

The New York Review Of Books – May 11, 2023


The New York Review of Books – May 11, 2023 issue: The Art Issue features Fintan O’Toole on the return of the Trump circus, Susan Tallman on why Piranesi still speaks to us, Joshua Leifer on democracy deferred in Israel, Ingrid D. Rowland on recycling antiquity, and Julian Bell on Adam Elsheimer’s oceanic immensity.

Seeing Baya Anew

The Yellow Curtains; painting by Baya
Bachir Mahieddine/Institut du Monde Arabe, ParisBaya: The Yellow Curtains, 1947

An exhibition of the Algerian painter’s work liberates it from the political symbolism of late colonialism.

In November 1947 a fifteen-year-old prodigy from colonial Algeria named Baya, described variously as Kabyle, Berber, Muslim, and Arab, exhibited her gouaches and clay sculptures at the Parisian gallery of the art dealer Aimé Maeght. Yves Chataigneau, the French governor of Algeria, and Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the rector of the Paris Mosque, were the sponsors of the exhibition, and the opening attracted some of the most influential cultural figures of postwar Paris: the writers Albert Camus, François Mauriac, and André Breton; the painters Henri Matisse and Georges Braque; the designer Christian “Bebè” Bérard.

The Perpetual Provocateur

Architectural Fantasy with a Colossal Façade; drawing by Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Giovanni Battista Piranesi: Architectural Fantasy with a Colossal Façade, circa 1743–1745; Morgan Library and Museum, New York

For generations, Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s prints of Roman views defined the popular image of the Eternal City. A profusion of new exhibitions and publications shows why he still speaks to us.

Also in the issue: Jacqueline Rose on C. P. Taylor’s final play, Colin B. Bailey on the Impressionists’ decorations, Wendy Doniger on Bengali tales from the mangrove forests, Christopher Benfey on the Black American potters of the nineteenth century, Jed Perl on high-tech high art, poems by Sasha Debevec-McKenney, Mosab Abu Toha, and Cyrus Console, and much more.

The New York Review Of Books – April 20, 2023


The New York Review of Books – April 20, 2023 issue: The London Book Fair Issue—is online now, with Cathleen Schine on Maxine Hong Kingston’s talking-stories, Jameel Jaffer on the “ethical train wreck” at the Office of Legal Counsel, Rumaan Alam on Namwali Serpell, Geoffrey O’Brien remembers Joe Brainard, Michelle Nijhuis on swamps and bogs, E. Tammy Kim on the legend of Harry Bridges, John Banville on John le Carré, Mark O’Connell on the world without us, Manisha Sinha on antebellum Black citizens, Matthew Desmond on handouts for the rich, poems by Homer and Isabel Galleymore, and much more.

‘Binding and Building’ America

Maxine Hong Kingston: The Woman Warrior, China Men, Tripmaster Monkey, Hawai‘i One Summer, Other Writings edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Maxine Hong Kingston’s best work has a timeless quality, fresh, beautiful, horrifying, bursting with myth and fantasy and nagging reality.

The British Broadcasting Conundrum

Two BBC programs being monitored from a control cubicle in Broadcasting House, London, 1932

The BBC: A Century on Air by David Hendy

This Is the BBC: Entertaining the Nation, Speaking for Britain? 1922–2022 by Simon J. Potter

World War II was the BBC’s finest hour, but its history since then reflects the corporation’s gradual loss of primacy in British life.

Refill the Swamp!

Marsh Water; painting by Ivon Hitchens

Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis by Annie Proulx

Wild by Design: The Rise of Ecological Restoration by Laura J. Martin

Two recent books show that the concept of ecological restoration is a fuzzy one: even practitioners rarely agree on what is being restored, or to what end.

The New York Review Of Books – April 6, 2023


The New York Review of Books – April 6, 2023 issue:

Here’s Looking at Yew

English Garden Eccentrics: Three Hundred Years of Extraordinary Groves, Burrowings, Mountains and Menageries

By Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

In the English garden, eccentricity and variety went hand in hand.

What counts as eccentric in the garden, and what counts as a folly? As a child I used to be taken on Sunday walks to the Needle’s Eye in Wentworth, South Yorkshire, a kind of sharp pyramid of stone some forty-five feet tall and pierced by an arched passage. 

Descriptions of a Struggle

The Diaries

by Franz Kafka, translated from the German by Ross Benjamin

Kafka’s diaries—made up of false starts, stray thoughts, self-doubts, internal dialogues, dreams, doodles, aphorisms, drafts of stories, character sketches, and scenes from family life—are often very funny.

The New York Review Of Books – March 23, 2023


The New York Review of Books – March 23, 2023 issue:

Fascism’s Poster Girl

Mussolini's Daughter

Edda Mussolini was once considered “the most dangerous woman in Europe,” but did she have real political power?

Mussolini’s Daughter

The Most Dangerous Woman in Europe

By Caroline Moorehead

Read a Sample

Bigger, Deeper, and More ‘Fucked Up’

When asked why HBO took such bold risks on shows that were darker, more libidinal, and more surreal than than those on other networks, a company executive replied, “Because we can.”

It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO by Felix Gillette and John Koblin

Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers by James Andrew Miller

Bloody Panico

The British Conservative Party was once one of the great popular political movements of Europe. What happened?

Tory Nation: How One Party Took Over by Samuel Earle

Boris Johnson: The Rise and Fall of a Troublemaker at Number 10 by Andrew Gimson

Pandemic Diaries: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle Against Covid by Matt Hancock with Isabel Oakeshott

The Fall of Boris Johnson: The Full Story by Sebastian Payne

Out of the Blue: The Inside Story of the Unexpected Rise and Rapid Fall of Liz Truss by Harry Cole and James Heale

The Reign: Life in Elizabeth’s Britain, Part 1: The Way It Was, 1952–79 by Matthew Engel

The Worm in the Apple: A History of the Conservative Party and Europe from Churchill to Cameron by Christopher Tugendhat

The New York Review Of Books – March 9, 2023

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The New York Review of Books – March 9, 2023:

Peddling Darkness

True crime stories, like Sarah Weinman’s Scoundrel, make for suspenseful reading. But do they exploit the criminal, and deepen a thirst for punishment?

Commanders and Courtiers

The Howe family achieved an influential position of power in late-eighteenth-century Britain, propelled by the shrewd social intelligence of the Howe women.

The New York Review Of Books – February 23, 2023

Table of Contents - February 23, 2023 | The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books February 23, 2023 issue:

Buildings Come to Life

In Edward Hopper’s paintings of New York, human figures often seem outgrowths of their architectural surroundings.

Edward Hopper’s New York an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, October 19, 2022–March 5, 2023

Brazil at the Crossroads

Lula’s election comes as a relief to many Brazilians, but in this historically violent and unequal country, a void in the democratic field endures.

Very Free and Indirect

The intensity of experience that Katherine Mansfield sought in her short life is matched by the formal obliqueness she discovered in her stories.

All Sorts of Lives: Katherine Mansfield and the Art of Risking Everything by Claire Harman

Books: New York Review Of Books – Jan 19, 2023

January 19, 2023 issue cover

The New York Review of Books – January 19, 2023 issue:

Alphabet Politics

What prompted the development of systems of writing?

The Greatest Invention: A History of the World in Nine Mysterious Scripts by Silvia Ferrara, translated from the Italian by Todd Portnowitz

Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present by Johanna Drucker

The Instrumentalist

At the heart of Todd Field’s new film is a conductor who cannot see beyond her generation’s field of vision.

Tár a film written and directed by Todd Field

Dress Rehearsal

Trump’s attempt almost two years ago to undermine the 2020 election reads today like a blueprint drawn for a future autocrat.

Feinting Spells

The thesis of an exhibition on the inspiration a subset of Cubism took from trompe l’oeil is convincingly built with objects made across four centuries.

Cubism and the Trompe l’Oeil Tradition – an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, October 20, 2022–January 22, 2023

Ukraine’s Volunteers

Even more impressive than Ukraine’s will to fight is the vast network of citizens who are supporting the armed forces and helping those in need of food and supplies.