Books
‘Burn it to the Ground’

‘Burn it to the Ground’

It is well-known that there are currently 2.4 million people in US prisons and jails. What is less-known is that they write and are producing a new wave of American literature. More»

Konsumterror

Konsumterror

I’ve been reading Alexander Sedlmaier’s Consumption and Violence: Radical Protest in Cold War West Germany. I picked it up after seeing it in the Cambridge University Press catalog, and only subsequently did I realize that I’d seen Sedlmaier give quite an interesting presentation at a German Studies Association conference in New Orleans long ago. More»

Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall

As a practical matter, it seems to be very difficult to write a book about the Frankfurt School (or any of its related figures) which is not hagiographical, impenetrable, interminable, or some combination of the three. I can count on one hand the number of titles on this topic that did not prompt me to the immediate consumption of alcohol or some sort of stimulant. More»

Asian Caricatures

Asian Caricatures

In his magisterial War Without Mercy, John Dower convincingly describes how prewar anti-Japanese feelings were driven by populist American fears of Japanese immigration and actual military contingency planning, though military planners consistently underestimated the Japanese in racist terms. More»

Civilization Versus Ideology

Civilization Versus Ideology

The United States has always approached political Islam in a contradictory manner. Since the 1950s, when Washington first made common cause with anti-Communist religious leaders, US policy towards the Mideast has been characterized by a disconnect between rhetoric and politics, particularly in matters concerning Islamist mobilization. More»

The Fifth or Sixth Human

The Fifth or Sixth Human

Der dritte oder der vierte Mensch, by the German sociologist Alfred Weber, hardly qualifies as a classic of the literature. It was published in 1953 as the first phase of the Cold War was winding down and much of the value that it retains is due to the way that it reflects the mindset of a particular moment in history. More»

Framing the Foreign

Framing the Foreign

In his first edition of Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy, Yale’s Michael H. Hunt hoped that in describing the primacy of ideological assumptions in foreign policymaking, he could contribute to the post-Vietnam critique of American overreach in world affairs More»

Origins of American Globalisation

Origins of American Globalisation

Spreading the American Dream is about the folklore of capitalism on a global stage. Or as an article in The National Interest once pithily described the mentality: “the multilingual, globe-trotting, advanced-degree holding, CNN-watching, Hilton Hotel-staying, international organization-employed cadres who go from trouble spot to trouble spot imposing the neoliberal state- and nation-building agenda on recalcitrant and often ungrateful natives.” More»

Summer Reading for Imperialists

Summer Reading for Imperialists

Daniel Silva’s series of thriller novels featuring Gabriel Allon, an Israeli spy, are a phenomenon among bestsellers. Millions of English-language copies from this have been sold in the sixteen years this series has been in print, and translations are available in dozens of languages. A new novel appears near-annually, and in a short time, hits the top of the New York Times bestseller lists. More»

Punk is History

Punk is History

People warned me about punk, two in particular. The first was Judith, who was two years older than me and whose father taught computer science at the liberal arts college in eastern Washington state where my father was the dean of the faculty. More»

Bin Laden Was Here

Bin Laden Was Here

Seymour Hersh occupies a peculiar place in the American media landscape. As the guy who broke the story of the massacre at My Lai in 1969, and having been instrumental in exposing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Hersh is second only to Woodward and Bernstein in the firmament of investigative journalism. More»

The Envy of Privilege

The Envy of Privilege

One cannot help but wonder what author Andrew Solomon would have achieved had he been born into different circumstances. He sits across from me on a French-style couch in his private library, arms extended, seemingly afloat on a swell of cushions. More»