Books

Elmore Leonard’s critically neglected novel Escape from Five Shadows speaks to social attitudes about incarceration that too many in the US public have forgotten.  Leonard published the novel in 1956 during his early career as a Westerns writer.  Some would argue, of course, that Leonard never stopped being a Westerns writer, only he changed locations. (More…)

The Irish are no more given to myth making than anyone else, but having been on the losing end of a lot of things over the course of the last six centuries, it’s hardly surprising that myth and legends have come to play an outsized role in the Irish political imaginary. (More…)

Throughout Jewish history, despite the constant injunction to refrain ‘from calculating the date of the end,’ men have arisen who have claimed to be messiahs, and these have mostly asserted their claim on nationalistic pleas. They were to be kings of Israel as well as inaugurators of a new regime of moral and spiritual life. (More…)

There is a striking difference today in the two zones in Korea, which is noticed by all peoples of the Far East. In the north, in the Soviet zone, the Russians are withdrawing in the midst of tremendous popular demonstrations of the Korean people honoring troops which liberated them from Japan. (More…)

After that tragic day, Brussels came more and more under the tyranny of the “iron fist” by which the Kaiser once boasted he would win the world-power unattained by other and far more capable enemies of peace. German soldiers swarmed through the streets, always hurrying to fulfil urgent business of their impatient leaders, who, on their way to overwhelm France, panted to thrust the sword of ruin deeper into hapless Belgium. (More…)

“From all forms of trench warfare, preserve us, O Lord!” should be the humble prayer of every soldier, for it is about the most unpleasant, tiresome, disagreeable, dangerous, death-without-glory kind of warfare which the evil genius of man could devise. As, however, it has come to stay, it may perhaps be of interest to describe what it was like in Gallipoli. (More…)

My boyhood neighbor, Loren Jones, was a man with an interesting story about Stalinist Russia.  He arrived there in 1937 as the first television engineer in the country, sent by his employer, the Radio Corporation of America. (More…)

One of the questions to be asked of a translated novel is ‘why was this translated?’  The answers can range from the author’s perceived importance, to providing foreign readers with cultural insight, or to publishing economics. (More…)

The division of Syria has not undergone any changes, since the time of Volney. To the pashalik of Aleppo  belongs Aintab, Badjazze, Alexandretta, and Antakia. Damascus comprehends Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablous, Bostra, Hums, and Hama. (More…)

Irony can be a difficult tone to manage well. It can be even more difficult to visualize effectively. Jillian Tamaki is a skilled ironist whose new graphic story collection Boundless (Drawn & Quarterly) can absorb and reward repeated readings. (More…)

Simply writing a personal or family memoir would be an easier task than producing an illustrated graphic memoir. It is not only that the work is more difficult technically, but so much more is at risk in the visualization of the narrative. Emotions about family members and their lives emerge in the pictures. Visual storytelling commits where words can remain ambiguous. (More…)

Prisons are holistic and extended social systems, a point that remains too little recognized in public discussions of prisons and imprisonment. That system includes prison staff and their families, people equally capable of social expression as prisoners and their own families. While prisoners often write of their experiences, prison wardens and guards are far more reticent. (More…)