Aram Bakshian Jr.

Aram Bakshian Jr. served as an aide to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan and writes frequently on politics, history, gastronomy, and the arts. 

Mini-Me to the Man Who Would Not Die

 

The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New MajorityBy Patrick J. Buchanan(Crown Forum, 392 pages, $28) To begin at the beginning, I happen to believe that Pat Buchanan is one of the ablest, most eloquent political writers alive today. If his take-no-prisoners style and love of the mischievous quip occasionally […]

Continue Reading

Bottle Hymn of the Republic

 

Long before there was a Four Seasons or a Mayflower or a Hay Adams, Washington, D.C. had only one grand hotel: the Willard. The prime spot it now occupies on Pennsylvania Avenue has housed one sort of caravanserai or another ever since 1818, when a string of modest row houses was leased for use as […]

Continue Reading

Bringing It 
All Back Home

 

The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817By Myron Magnet(Norton, 472 pages, $35) Myron Magnet, editor-at-large of City Journal, set himself no small task in writing his latest book. The Founders at Home is an intertwined series of biographies that, in his own words, “together help explain why the American Revolution, of all great revolutions, […]

Continue Reading

Red Plate Special

 

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and LongingBy Anya Von Bremzen(Crown, 338 pages, $26) One of the most popular novelistic forms is the sweeping, multi-generational family saga that encompasses great events as they are seen through the eyes of a colorful cast of fictional characters. For Russia, think Tolstoy’s War and […]

Continue Reading

Franco, Dear

 

Franco’s Crypt: Spanish Culture and Memory Since 1936By Jeremy Treglown(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 pages, $30)  When Generalissimo Francisco Franco finally died at the age of 82 after ruling Spain with an iron hand for 36 years, a Barcelona wag fretted that, “if even Franco can die, it could happen to anyone!” The consequences of […]

Continue Reading

Reader’s Digestion

 

Steal the Menu: A Memoir of Forty Years in FoodBy Raymond Sokolov(Knopf, 242 pages, $25.95) LET US BEGIN with a happy ending. On the last page of his engaging and appetizing food memoir, author Raymond Sokolov sounds a note of culinary optimism. Having noted that 40 years ago there was “no first-rate American cheese, no radicchio, […]

Continue Reading

Gorging and Guzzling in the Red Apple

 

LONG BEFORE THERE was the Big Apple, there was the Red Apple. Constantinople, the “Second Rome” capital of the Byzantine Empire, was the richest, most splendid city in the world for most of the millennium between its establishment by the Emperor Constantine and its fall to the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror […]

Continue Reading

His Reach Exceeded His Grasp

 

Bolívar: American LiberatorBy Marie Arana(Simon & Schuster, 603 pages, $35) Although he stood only five and a half feet tall and weighed a scant 130 pounds, Simón Bolívar was one of history’s giants…and with an ego to match. He was both extraordinary and extraordinarily flawed, a vain voluptuary who was also a Spartan warrior of […]

Continue Reading

Self-Righteous Republic

 

Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern IndiaBy Ananya Vajpeyi(Harvard University Press, 342 pages, $39.95) SOMEWHERE BACK IN THE 1980s, at a small dinner gathering at the Indian Embassy in Washington, the then-ambassador (K.S. Bajpai if memory serves), who knew that I occasionally wrote about Indian history and literature, asked me why I had never visited […]

Continue Reading

Understanding the Forest, One Tree at a Time

 

Silent HouseBy Orhan Pamuk(Alfred A. Knopf, 334 pages, $26.95) About halfway through Silent House, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has one of his characters—a rather pathetic failed history professor named Faruk—complain that, “I had to find a little story, to make a convincing tale! The structure of our brain probably has to change if we are ever […]

Continue Reading