What We’re Reading: May Edition

By on 5.19.14 | 1:47PM

After a short hiatus, we're back with what we're reading:

Matthew Walther, Assistant Editor and Book Reviewer

John Lahr, Tennessee Williams. This very readable life of the playwright, with whose work I have never had much sympathy, by an old New Yorker drama hand has an interesting pre-history. It is, technically, the second volume of an earlier biography whose publication was delayed by Williams's estate. Still in galley, but something to look forward to in September.

What We’re Reading: February Edition

By on 2.14.14 | 12:39PM

Matthew Walther, Assistant Editor and Book Reviewer

Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Wartime Journals.

The Wartime Journals reveal the voice and experiences of Trevor-Roper, a war-time "backroom boy" who spent most of the war engaged in highly confidential intelligence work in England—including breaking the cipher code of the German secret service, the Abwehr. He became an expert in German resistance plots and after the war, interrogated many of Hitler's immediate circle, investigated Hitler's death in the Berlin bunker, and personally retrieved Hitler's will from its secret hiding place.

Don't Buy the Book

Giving Short Schiff

By From the November 2013 issue

Sydney and Violet: Their Life With T.S. Eliot, Proust, Joyce, and the Excruciatingly Irascible Wyndham Lewis.
By Stephen Klaidman
(Nan A. Talese, 268 pages, $27.95) 

PROMINENTLY QUOTED ON the dust jacket of Stephen Klaidman’s Sydney and Violet are a few words from T.S. Eliot’s postscript to the 1962 obituary of Violet Schiff in the Times of London: “I write primarily to pay homage to a beloved friend, but also in the hope that some future chronicler of the history of arts and letters in our time may give to Sydney and Violet Schiff the place which is their due.” 

Amazon Kindle and the Future of Content

By on 3.16.09 | 4:34PM

Okay, I have now had time to read an entire book on the Kindle.  Excellent experience.  What is really amazing is the content delivery aspect of it.  I was going to deliver a lecture on technology and culture and wanted to brush up on Orwell's 1984.  I downloaded it via the Kindle for .99.  Instant delivery.  No shipping.  I was reading in the next minute.

I was worried about the issue of notetaking, highlighting, underlining, etc.  Good news on that front.  You can easily highlight text and then go to a separate page that keeps all of your highlighted sections.  Outstanding.  Only one minor complaint is that you can't highlight text across pages.  You highlight on the page you are on.  Stop.  Then highlight the section you want on the next page.

Leveling the Playing Field for College Students

By on 2.24.09 | 11:36AM

Am I referring to affirmative action?  Pell Grants?  Forgiveness of student loans? 

No, I'm talking about the primary area where college students are actually plagued by injustice.  I am talking about the market for textbooks.

Though the world of academia tilts heavily to the left, the professor/textbook writers of the world participate as rapaciously in cutthroat capitalism as anyone on the planet. 

Students get sticker shock when they go to buy a particular text.  So, they resort to the used market, which is better than ever thanks to ebay,, and a variety of other outlets. 

But the textbook writers regularly act to destroy the value of the old editions by continually issuing new ones whether necessary or not.  The Nobel winning liberal economist Paul Samuelson earned a fortune on his many-times updated standard text. 

Farewell, Jack Reacher. Farewell, Lee Child.

By on 1.1.09 | 11:04PM

My father-in-law and I bonded years ago when he introduced me to the genre of action thrillers.  It began when he loaned me a box full of the first 60 or so Remo Williams novels.  I still remember that chapter two of each book began with "His name was Remo and . . ."

Our latest action hero has been Jack Reacher, the creation of British television writer Lee Child.  Reacher (always Reacher in the series, never Jack) is an imaginative hero.  He spent the first thirty-five years or so of his life on military bases.  First, as a child of a soldier and then as a top military policeman.  The hook is that Reacher, as a military policeman, is something like a super-cop.  His targets were trained men, often devious, tough fighters without a moral code. 

A Conservative-Libertarian Booklist for Spectator Readers

By on 12.29.08 | 8:55PM

It is nearly New Year's Eve and the time of reflection is greatly upon us.  This reality is especially poignant in the wake of a revolutionary left-liberal presidential victory and the onset of substantial economic challenges. 

The American Spectator is well-known as a flagship publication of the conservative-libertarian movement (Yes, Virginia, there still is one.), so I thought now might be a good time to propose a list of outstanding books for the intellectually curious AmSpec friend or fellow traveler.

I would not dare attempt to put these in order based on excellence.  Just consider it a series of number ones.