Culture & Literature
The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books May 23, 2019

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.

United States
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20 Issues

in this issue

10 min.
david cole

Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election by Robert S. Mueller III. Two volumes, 448 pp., available at www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report, released to the public in a redacted version on April 18, lays out in meticulous detail both a blatantly illegal effort by Russia to throw the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump and repeated efforts by President Trump to end, limit, or impede Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference. Trump’s efforts included firing or attempting to fire those overseeing the investigation, directing subordinates to lie on his behalf, cajoling witnesses not to cooperate, and doctoring a public statement about a Trump Tower meeting between his son and closest advisers and a Russian lawyer offering compromising information on Hillary Clinton. Attorney General William Barr,…

1 min.
now available in paperback

“Magisterial.”—Joshua Yaffa, New Yorker“A Soviet War and Peace.”—Sheila Fitzpatrick, London Review of Books“Required reading for anybody who wants to understand today’s economy.”—Olivier Blanchard, former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund“One of the deepest, most intimate examinations of small-town life ever undertaken.”—David Shribman, Globe and Mail“Muller delivers a riposte to bean counters everywhere with this trenchant study of our fixation with performance metrics.”—Barbara Kiser, Nature“Sherman offers something new and surprising: a look inside the 1 per cent’s minds. … She shifts our understanding of today’s dominant class.”—Simon Kuper, Financial Times“Beautifully and often wittily written, this is history that has some of the impact of a great work of dystopian science fiction.”—Tom Holland, BBC History Magazine“This powerful book should change the way we think about economic opportunity in America. It’s an…

12 min.
publish and perish

Giles Harvey Non-Fiction a film written and directed Non-Fiction, the new film by Olivier Assayas, is about publishing and the people who work in it. To publishing professionals, who find their industry a source of inexhaustible fascination, this will come as welcome news; to everyone else, it probably sounds as interesting as a film about tax law or podiatry. Assayas, one of France’s most gifted and prolific directors, is aware of both perspectives. He is drawn to publishing for the same reason Martin Scorsese is drawn to organized crime: it offers him a back door to the human comedy. You don’t have to be an insider to relish the film’s sparkling satire, though readers of Publishers Weekly (and perhaps The New York Review) will likely feel a twinge of recognition at the…

21 min.
it’s not about sex

Molly Crabapple Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights by Molly Smith and Juno Mac. Verso, 278 pp., $24.95 (paper) Blowin’ Up a documentary film directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal Every year, on December 17, sex workers from Bombay to Zagreb gather to demand that the world stop killing their colleagues. The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers started in 2003, to commemorate the dozens of women murdered by the Green River Killer in Washington State in the 1980s and 1990s, and has since grown into a collective cry of mourning, solidarity, and sex workers’ refusal to be ashamed. American sex workers are today more organized, and more oppressed, than they have been in years. Last year the US government passed the twin laws of SESTA and FOSTA—the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and…

14 min.
in love with multiplicity

Bruegel an exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, October 2, 2018–January 13, 2019 Bruegel: The Master Catalog of the exhibition by Elke Oberthaler, Sabine Pénot, Manfred Sellink, and Ron Spronk, with Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt. Thames and Hudson, 303 pp., $60.00 Close to half a million people saw the huge Bruegel exhibition in Vienna marking the 450th anniversary of the artist’s death. Pieter Bruegel the Elder died on September 9, 1569, but the Kunsthistorisches Museum pushed the show up a year so that lending institutions could celebrate with their Bruegels back on their walls. The exhibition’s slogan, “once in a lifetime,” was true. Never had so many works by this master been shown in one place: some twenty-seven paintings and seventy drawings and prints, more than half of his oeuvre and enough for a lifetime…

22 min.
resistance to immunity

Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines by Jennifer A. Reich. New York University Press, 315 pp., $75.00; $20.00 (paper) Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity by Michael Kinch. Pegasus, 334 pp., $27.95 The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman. Viking, 436 pp., $30.00 Not far from the hospital in Edinburgh where I work there’s a graveyard; it can be a calm, if morbid, place to reflect after a tough shift. Passing it acts as a memento mori on days when I need to be reminded of the value of medical practice—which for all its modern complexity remains the art of postponing death. Benches are set out in the shade of trees, between red-shingle walkways and rows of Victorian tombstones. Many of the…