Samuel Watts reviews 'The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the debate over race in America' by Nicholas Buccola
Rising to the lectern amid a tightly packed crowd in the Cambridge Union’s debating hall, James Baldwin began quietly and slowly to speak. ‘I find myself, not for the first time, in the position of a kind of Jeremiah.’ It was February 1965, and Baldwin was in the United Kingdom to promote his third novel, Another Country (1962). Baldwin’s British publicist had asked the Union if they would host the author. Peter Fullerton, the Union’s president, was quick to seize this opportunity, on one condition: that Baldwin participate in a debate.... (read more)
Ivan Vasilevich Ovchinnikov defected to the Soviet Union in 1958. After three years in West Germany, he had had enough of the West with its hollow promises. He was a farmer’s son, and his family’s property had been confiscated and the family deported as ‘kulaks’ during Stalin’s assault on the Russian village in the early 1930s. Ovchinnikov managed to escape the often deadly exile, obscured his family background, and made a respectable career. Brought up in a children’s home, then trained in a youth army school, the talented youngster eventually entered the élite Military Institute for Foreign Languages in Moscow. In 1955, now an officer and a translator, he was sent to East Berlin as part of the army’s intelligence unit.... (read more)
Max Holleran reviews 'Fortress America: How we embraced fear and abandoned democracy' by Elaine Tyler May
On a Saturday afternoon shortly before Christmas in 1984, Bernhard Goetz was riding the New York City subway. Goetz, who is white, was approached by four black screwdriver-wielding teenagers who asked him for five dollars. Goetz drew a 0.38 pistol from his jacket and shot each of the boys once, then turned to one of them ...... (read more)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is consistently ranked alongside George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest presidents of the United States. His greatness rests on two pillars. Elected in the midst of the Great Depression, he permanently changed how Americans viewed government: as a force that would ...... (read more)
Andrew Broertjes reviews 'The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton' by William E. Leuchtenburg
The president of the United States looms large in contemporary politics, a powerful figure dominating news and popular culture: from newly elected president Donald Trump bestriding (or, depending on your political leanings, besmirching) the world stage, to Kevin Spacey as the Machiavellian Frank Underwood in House of Cards. For the modern observer, it is di ...
James McNamara reviews 'Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus' by Matt Taibbi and 'How The Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016' by P.J. O’Rourke
Beneath a frantic veneer of normalcy, American politics is not okay. It is as if Punch and Judy have careened out of a dive bar, tripped down the rabbit hole, smashed head-first through the looking glass, and found themselves running all three branches of government. Core to this is that unlikely combination of words, President Donald Trump....
This is an angry book. David Cay Johnston has been doing investigative reporting on Donald Trump's business practices for nearly three decades, and this book is a compilation of ...... (read more)
James McNamara reviews 'Dark Money: The hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right' by Jane Mayer
When I arrived in America, green card in hand, I soon got down to my favourite pastime: discussing politics over grain-based liquor. I was surprised to find that President Barack ...... (read more)
Glenn Moore reviews 'Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the making of America' by Michael A. McDonnell
Michael McDonnell knew he had a bestseller on his hands. Historical biographies regularly top the New York Times bestseller list, and his research uncovered a larger than life figure named Charles de Langlade. Born in 1729 to an Indian mother and a French-Canadian father, Langlade grew up straddling two cultures, but that did not stop him from becoming a le ...
The streets of New Orleans double as scented gardens for the blind. Round any corner in the Vieux Carré – known to most as the French Quarter – and experience the assault of sensory details. It might start with a spicy tang of boiling seafood, crawfish, or shrimp or crabs plucked from the amphibious Louisiana land. Maybe it's frying beignets or praline mixture ...