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The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books March 12, 2020

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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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United States
20 Issues

in this issue

2 min.

PAULA BOHINCE is the author of three books of poems, most recently Swallows and Waves. She is the 2020 John Montague International Poetry Fellow at University College Cork. CHRISTIAN CARYL is an editor at the Opinions section of The Washington Post and the author of Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the Twenty-First Century. JAMES FENTON is a British poet and literary critic. From 1994 until 1999, he was Oxford Professor of Poetry; in 2015 he was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize. He is the author of School of Genius: A History of the Royal Academy of Arts and, most recently, Yellow Tulips: Poems, 1968–2011. TIM FLANNERY’s Europe: A Natural History was published last year. RUTH FRANKLIN’s most recent book, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle…

1 min.
the beginning of the end

HITLER’S FIRST HUNDRED DAYS When Germans Embraced the Third Reich “Hitler’s First Hundred Days, a thoroughly researched and elegantly written book, is a must for understanding how a majority of Germans adapted to the new regime, even cheered it, merely a few months after Hitler’s accession to the chancellorship. A stark reminder of the blandishments of power.”—SAUL FRIEDLÄNDER, author of Nazi Germany and the Jews “Not all 100 days are the same. This riveting and troubling portrait of political and social depredation by a master historian of the Third Reich underscores liberal democratic frailty in the face of fierce determined attack. As such, it implicitly offers readers a clarion call to take incipient and assertive authoritarianism seriously lest they create an ugly new normal.”—IRA KATZNELSON, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and…

18 min.
warren in the trap

Since Elizabeth Warren’s formal announcement of her candidacy on February 19, 2019, the narrative about her has had little to do with her actual qualifications. From initially low poll numbers, she rode a brief upswing in October to the top of some national polls, immediately drawing a backlash, in part over concerns that her Medicare for All plan was too far to the left. After the debate on January 14, 2020, when Bernie Sanders denied having told her, at a private meeting in 2018, that he did not believe a woman could be elected, it was clear that the issue of “electability” swamped all else. To anybody paying attention, however, that issue has been central since the beginning. In Warren’s rhetoric, in the media, and in voters’ reactions to her, perceptions…

25 min.
foolish questions

SCREWBALL!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny by Paul C. Tumey. Library of American Comics, 303 pp., $59.99 The Art of Rube Goldberg an exhibition at the Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, February 11–April 23, 2017; the Grand Rapids Art Museum, May 21–August 27, 2017; Citadelle Art Foundation and Museum, Canadian, Texas, September 15–November 26, 2017; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, March 15–July 8, 2018; the Portland Public Library, Portland, Maine, August 3–September 22, 2018; the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, October 12, 2018–January 21, 2019; the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, April 28–July 21, 2019; and the Queens Museum, October 6, 2019–February 9, 2020 Two ladies on an outing to the Queens Museum one weekend last fall wander into “The Art of Rube Goldberg” exhibition.…

18 min.
a very hot year

This year began with huge bushfires in southeastern Australia that drove one community after another into temporary exile, killed an estimated billion animals, and turned Canberra’s air into the dirtiest on the planet. The temperatures across the continent broke records—one day, the average high was above 107 degrees, and the humidity so low that forests simply exploded into flames. The photos of the disaster were like something out of Hieronymus Bosch, with crowds gathered on beaches under blood-red skies, wading into the water as their only refuge from the flames licking nearby. But such scenes are only a chaotic reminder of what is now happening every hour of every day. This year wouldn’t have begun in such a conflagration if 2019 hadn’t been an extremely hot year on our planet—the…

20 min.
l’engle’s cosmic catechism

The Kairos Novels: The Wrinkle in Time and Polly O’Keefe Quartetsby Madeleine L’Engle, edited by Leonard S. Marcus. Library of America, 2 volumes, 1,899 pp., $80.00 Penguins and Golden Calves:Icons and Idols in Antarctica and Other Unexpected Placesby Madeleine L’Engle, with a foreword by Charlotte Jones Voiklis. Convergent, 252 pp., $15.00 (paper) The Rock That Is Higher:Story as Truthby Madeleine L’Engle, with a foreword by Sarah Bessey. Convergent, 311 pp., $15.00 (paper) Madeleine L’Engle, a fixture in the lives of generations of American children and teenagers as the author of the classic novel A Wrinkle in Time, looked back on the 1950s as her “decade of failure.” After finding critical success in the 1940s with fiction for both young readers and adults, she had a run of persistent bad luck. One novel went…