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The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books May 28, 2020

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

1 min.
labor in the time of crisis

“Functions as an examination of both how Uber’s algorithms are changing the way companies operate and exert control over their workers and how those workers are experiencing these changes.”—Slate“Written with clarity and style, this is a mix of people’s compelling, even tragic stories and an innovative contribution to what we know about work, highlighting a poorly understood phenomenon.”—Allison J. Pugh, author of The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity“As we turn to imagine what kind of economy and society we want after COVID-19, the work of Juliet Schor and her students will be indispensable.”—Raj Patel, author of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things“This hard-hitting book takes readers into the working world of ambulance crews. Josh Seim offers an exciting new lens for understanding…

2 min.

KWAME ANTHONY APPIAH teaches philosophy at NYU. His latest book is The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity. ANNE CARSON was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living. Her latest publication is Norma Jeane Baker of Troy. DAVID COLE is the National Legal Director of the ACLU and the Honorable George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy at the Georgetown University Law Center. His latest book is Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed. STEVE COLL is Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Directorate S: The CIA and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. MICHAEL DIRDA is a Pulitzer Prize–winning critic for The Washington Post and the author of several collections of essays, including…

11 min.
why we need postal democracy

Nothing symbolizes democracy like long lines at the polls on election day. They represent a collective act of faith, as chances are virtually nil that any one of the votes we cast over our lifetime will determine the outcome of an election. They remind us that many of our fellow citizens have had to fight to stand in such lines. And because long lines are also often a sign that election officials have failed to provide sufficient voting opportunities, they illustrate the tenacity of citizens who insist on casting their ballots even when the government seems more interested in obstructing than in facilitating the franchise. Not since the civil rights era, when African-Americans in the South braved death threats to exercise their right to vote, has a voting line embodied this…

18 min.
not even past

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry. Viking, 238 pp., $27.00 In a novel by Sebastian Barry from 2011, On Canaan’s Side, a very old Irishwoman in America is writing her life story, a story of obscure survival through the dark, violent dramas of twentieth-century history, stretching back to “a thousand thousand moons ago, as one might say.” Among her memories are two images of tiny, utterly lost things. One is a string of pearls that belonged to her dead mother, given to her as a child by her father, which she broke: “The little cultured pearls poured out on the floor, and made a dash for the gaps between the floorboards.” A few were rescued. “The others must still be there, a queer memorial to me and my mother, in the darkness.” The…

13 min.
covid & the courts

I am writing this piece while sitting, alone, in my chambers at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse in Lower Manhattan. I am one of several federal judges who have volunteered to come to the courthouse at least one day each week to deal with any emergency matters that cannot be handled remotely by other judges during the Covid-19 pandemic. Somewhat to my surprise, there have been relatively few such matters. With the important exception of jury trials, my court—the federal district court for the Southern District of New York, encompassing Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester, and several more northerly counties along the Hudson—has been processing cases at a rate pretty close to normal. This is in distinct contrast to many state courts—notably in New York, where they were essentially shut…

1 min.
explore the past to see a path forward

Being at Large Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts SANTIAGO ZABALA Paper $29.95 200pp The People’s Health Health Intervention and Delivery in Mao’s China, 1949–1983 ZHOU XUN Paper $37.95 384pp Techno-Fixers Origins and Implications of Technological Faith SEAN F. JOHNSTON Cloth $29.95, 344pp Clean Body A Modern History PETER WARD Cloth $34.95 336pp Objectively Engaged Journalism An Ethic STEPHEN J.A. WARD Cloth 34.95 288pp Wash, Wear, and Care Clothing and Laundry in Long-Term Residential Care PAT ARMSTRONG AND SUZANNE DAY Paper $29.95 216pp SARS in Context Memory, History, and Policy EDITED BY JACALYN DUFFIN AND ARTHUR SWEETMAN Paper $29.95 224pp We Resist Defending the Common Good in Hostile Times EDITED BY CYNTHIA LEVINE-RASKY AND LISA KOWALCHUK Paper $29.95 328pp Expelling the Plague The Health Office and the Implementation of Quarantine in Dubrovnik, 1377–1533 ZLATA BLAŽINA TOMIC AND VESNA BLAŽ Paper $39.95 384pp McGILL-QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY PRESS | mqup.ca…