The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books

July 22, 2021

For over 50 years, The New York Review of Books has been the place where the world's leading authors, scientists, educators, artists, and political leaders turn when they wish to engage in a spirited debate on literature, politics, art, and ideas with a small but influential audience that welcomes the challenge. Each issue addresses some of the most passionate political and cultural controversies of the day, and reviews the most engrossing new books and the ideas that illuminate them. Get The New York Review of Books digital magazine subscription today.

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20 Números

en este número

1 min.
books, films, and podcasts discussed in this article

True Crime Detective Magazines 1924–1969 by Eric Godtland, edited by Dian Hanson. Taschen (out of print) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, with an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by Patton Oswalt. Harper Perennial, 344 pp., $17.99 (paper) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark an HBO documentary series directed by Liz Garbus, Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane, and Josh Koury My Favorite Murder a podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark The Ripper a BBC/Netflix documentary series directed by Jesse Vile and Elena Wood Tales of the Grim Sleeper a documentary film written and directed by Nick Broomfield, Barney Broomfield, and Marc Hoeferlin Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession edited by Sarah Weinman, with an introduction by Patrick Radden Keefe. Ecco, 416 pp., $18.99 (paper) The…

16 min.
all-american vigilantes

At the core of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, causing five deaths and more than 140 injuries, were members of white-nationalist militias like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters. Their brazen invasion of one of the nation’s most protected sites may have been new, but organized right-wing vigilantes have long been with us. Never did they loom larger than in the strife-torn United States of a hundred years ago. One vigilante described, for example, how he and some fellow “soldiers of darkness,” as he proudly called them, broke up an antiwar rally in Chicago’s Grant Park in August 1917: Three of us worked our way to the speakers’ stand. When one particularly vicious orator began to incite the mob… I jumped on the…

19 min.
freedom for sale

The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War by Louis Menand. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 857 pp., $35.00 In 1959, after he had given three lectures in the West German city of Darmstadt on the principle of indeterminacy in music and then staged a series of concerts across Western Europe, the avant-garde composer John Cage became a star on Italian television. He appeared on Lascia o Raddoppia?, a popular quiz show hosted by a man called Mike Bongiorno every Thursday night at nine o’clock. The program, based on The $64,000 Question, was a manifestation of the Americanization of Western European culture after World War II. It fused capitalist incentives—lots of cash—with the display of recondite expertise. A contestant answered a question on a favorite subject. The questions got harder every…

19 min.
why did we invade iraq?

To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq by Robert Draper. Penguin Press, 480 pp., $30.00; $19.00 (paper) Nearly two decades have passed since President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, arguably the greatest strategic blunder in American history. It led to the deaths of more than 4,400 US military personnel and (according to the research group Iraq Body Count) up to 208,000 Iraqi civilians, to say nothing of the destabilization of the Middle East and the deadly convulsions that followed—sectarian violence, the emergence of ISIS, and a refugee crisis larger than any since World War II, among other calamities. And yet we still don’t understand just why the US went to war. Conventional wisdom lays the blame on neoconservatives, mainly midlevel officials of the…

17 min.
confrontation in colombia

I came to Cali in late May, at the end of a month in which all of Colombia had been engulfed in antigovernment protests. No place had been hit harder by violence in the course of the turmoil than this airy, pleasant city of some two million people, traversed by a smoothflowing river and shaded by enormous trees—ceibas, jacarandas, caracolís. Cali likes to style itself the salsa capital of the world and, more ambitiously, the “Branch Office of Heaven.” Maybe, but on the morning of May 28 a minor government official, enraged because he was not allowed through a roadblock guarded by adamant teenagers, took out a gun and killed two of them pointblank. He was then beaten to death by the others. It was the thirty-ninth known violent death…

22 min.
cubicle messiah

The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell. Crown, 446 pp., $28.00 Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork by Reeves Wiedeman. Little, Brown, 341 pp., $28.00; $17.99 (paper) One morning a few years ago, as I entered the York Street subway station in Brooklyn, a friendly young woman handed me a promotional Tshirt from the office-leasing company WeWork. It was gray and very soft, and it said “HUSTLE HARDER” in a graffiti-like font. It became a gym shirt, then a dir ty-household-projects shirt. Recently I was going to throw it away, but it felt like a memento—of what, I wasn’t sure. It had always been tricky to say exactly what WeWork was. In 2008 the company’s cofounders,…