Culture & Literature
The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books December 19, 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.

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20 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

JOAN ACOCELLA is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her most recent book is Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints. She is writing a biography of Mikhail Baryshnikov. RAE ARMANTROUT’s most recent collection of poems, Wobble, was a finalist for the National Book Award. NEAL ASCHERSON is the author of Black Sea, Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland and the novel Death of the Fronsac. He is an Honorary Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. MATTHEW AUCOIN is a composer and conductor. He is the Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Opera and a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. His new opera, Eurydice, will have its world premiere in Los Angeles in February 2020. KEN BABSTOCK’s sixth collection of poems will be published next year. COLIN B. BAILEY is Director of the Morgan Library and Museum.…

1 min.
america for americans

“As Erika Lee brilliantly shows, xenophobia has forever been an integral part of American racism. Forcing us to confront this history as we confront its present, America for Americans is essential reading for anyone who wants to build a more inclusive society.” —IBR AM X. KENDI, author of How to Be an Antiracist “America for Americans is unflinching and powerful. Through extensive research and crystal-clear prose, Erika Lee has masterfully tracked the phenomenon of xenophobia and its devastating effects on this nation’s democracy and its people.” —CAROL ANDERSON, author of White Rage “The most comprehensive and chilling history of antiimmigrant sentiment in America ever written. With narrative authority and analytic precision, Erika Lee shows how xenophobia has shaped America more than the ideals embodied by the Statue of Liberty.” —GARY GERSTLE, author of American Crucible basicbooks.com…

18 min.
making shakespeare sing

Verdi: Creating “Otello” and “Falstaff”—Highlights from the Ricordi Archive an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, New York City, September 6, 2019–January 5, 2020 The process of adapting a play into an opera is a little like forcing the original text to drink a concoction out of Alice in Wonderland: some aspects of it will shrink or evaporate, others are magnified to unrecognizable dimensions, and the whole thing falls through music’s rabbit hole into a parallel world where very different laws apply. This fraught alchemy has bewildered many a composer. Sources that seem unimpeachably strong (classic plays, beloved movies, Great American Novels) can wilt or fail to catch fire when set to music, while material that might seem slight, simplistic, or impractical can, in the hands of an inventive composer,…

1 min.
new and notable from the getty

Dora Maar Edited by Damarice Amao, Amanda Maddox, and Karolina Ziebinska-Lewandowska Richly illustrated with her enigmatic photographs and lesser-known paintings, this comprehensive exploration of Dora Maar’s career is the first to reveal her as an extraordinary and influential artist in her own right. J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM Hardcover $40.00 Book of Beasts The Bestiary in the Medieval World Edited by Elizabeth Morrison With Larisa Grollemond “Like the manuscripts it considers, the book is a feast for the eye and a breath-taking cache of knowledge, which offers a much-needed balance to pre-existing scholarship on the bestiary’s textual history.” —Times Higher Education J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM Hardcover $60.00 True Grit American Prints from 1900 to 1950 Stephanie Schrader, James Glisson, and Alexander Nemerov This engaging work examines a rich selection of early twentieth-century American prints, which frequently focused on the crowded, chaotic, and gritty modern city. J. PAUL…

3 min.
columbia university press

Klotsvog MARGARITA KHEMLIN Translated by Lisa C. Hayden Foreword by Lara Vapnyar “[Khemlin’s] masterful debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize … demonstrates just how unsuccessful love can be—particularly when it’s trapped in the antisemitic Soviet mechanism.” —The Times Literary Supplement Fandango and Other Stories ALEXANDER GRIN Translated by Bryan Karetnyk “Bryan Karetnyk’s sparkling translations bring out both the stylistic intricacy and the psychological depth of Grin’s tales … This expertly edited collection introduces, at long last, the full range of Grin’s gifts to the English-speaking world.” —Los Angeles Review of Books Cook, Taste, Learn How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking GUY CROSBY “As a foodie myself I was delighted to see all suspicions confirmed in Cook, Taste, Learn—that advances in the culinary arts are commonly empowered by curious scientists who also happen to be hungry.” —Neil…

17 min.
the drums of cyberwar

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg. Doubleday, 348 pp., $28.95 In mid-October, a cybersecurity researcher in the Netherlands demonstrated, online, as a warning,* the easy availability of the Internet protocol address and open, unsecured access points of the industrial control system—the ICS—of a wastewater treatment plant not far from my home in Vermont. Industrial control systems may sound inconsequential, but as the investigative journalist Andy Greenberg illustrates persuasively in Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, they have become the preferred target of malicious actors aiming to undermine civil society. A wastewater plant, for example, removes contaminants from the water supply; if its controls were to be compromised, public health would be,…