Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson spent 17 years at McGraw-Hill, including six years as a news executive in New York. He now writes from Bordeaux in France.

What Made Vladimir Nabokov Tick?

 

Vladimir Nabokov in Context Edited by David M. Bethea and Siggy Frank (Cambridge University Press, 334 pages, $79.81) The late great Russian-born novelist Vladimir Nabokov amassed a range of critical comments during his 78 years, more than enough to qualify him as a literary giant and keep his books in print. But most of the […]

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Big Songs — the Power Behind the Old Broadway Musicals

 

Ten years of work, 53 personal interviews, and a lifetime of theater criticism combine to make Gerald Nachman’s new book, “Showstoppers,” a Broadway hit. Fans of musicals will find a wealth of astonishing stories here that they thought they already knew by heart. Indeed, Nachman’s subtitle is fully justified: “The surprising backstage stories of Broadway’s most remarkable songs.”

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When the Sun Went Down in Baltimore

 

The Life of Kings: The Baltimore Sun and the Golden Age of the American Newspaper Edited by Frederic B. Hill and Stephens Broening (Rowman & Littlefield, 322 pages, $38) In what may turn out to be a new genre in book publishing, 26 veteran Baltimore journalists have joined forces to produce a nostalgic look back […]

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Russia’s Macho Leader Exposed

 

Vovochka: The True Confessions of Vladimir Putin’s Best Friend and Confidant By Alexander J. Motyl (Anaphora Press, 15O pages. $20) This book is long overdue — a sendup of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the macho horseman and judo master so often photographed with rippling pecs. The reality, says this comic novel, is quite the opposite. […]

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The Cold War in Retrospect: How Historians Still Get It Wrong

 

Myths of the Cold War: Amending Historiographic DistortionsBy Albert L. Weeks(Lexington Books, 154 pages, $76) Are Western historians going soft on the Cold War that the Russians waged against the West for 45 years? A new look at trends in this gray area of history indicates that many writers and younger generations now contend the […]

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Talk of the Town

 

One of the biggest events in Robert Mankoff’s life was the day Nancy Pelosi stole a caption from his cartoon and used it without attribution. But Mankoff, editor of the New Yorker cartoon desk, was over the moon when it happened to him. “It’s my most famous one,” he trumpets on the opening page of […]

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Talk of the Town

 

One of the biggest events in Robert Mankoff’s life was the day Nancy Pelosi stole a caption from his cartoon and used it without attribution. But Mankoff, editor of the New Yorker cartoon desk, was over the moon when it happened to him. “It’s my most famous one,” he trumpets on the opening page of […]

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A New Russia Roadmap

 

To the casual observer, the past three years in Russia have been particularly mystifying — bold protest marches, campaigns calling the Duma majority “crooks and thieves,” the imprisonment of some, but not all, leading dissidents, and gulag time for the outrageous Pussy Riot girls. Russia’s own Islamic jihadists even threatened to blow up Sochi during […]

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Delinking From LinkedIn

 

As the NSA phone records scandal recedes in the public consciousness, private marketers are quietly invading our computer systems in their own intrusive ways, enabled by a sea of floating data around social networks and related sites. Taken together, privacy in America has never been more in play. Now a backlash is brewing. Companies such […]

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Ketchum If You Can

 

Vladimir Putin’s first foray into the American op-ed world has produced far more heat than light since its publication Sept. 12. The 1100-word screed under Putin’s byline was a masterpiece of chutzpah, portraying the Russia president as a God-fearing protector of democracy and stalwart supporter of the United Nations, especially the Security Council where Russia […]

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