Gary Wills in the New York Review of Books: People are amazed or disgusted, or both, at today’s “power of the media.” The punch is in that plural, “media”—the twenty-four-hour flow of intermingled news and opinion not only from print but also from TV channels, radio stations, Twitter, e-mails, and other electronic “feeds.” This storm of information from many sources may make us underestimate the power of the press in the nineteenth century when it had just one medium—the newspaper.
Alex Ross in The New Yorker: In Jonathan Franzen’s 2001 novel, “The Corrections,” a disgraced academic named Chip Lambert, who has abandoned Marxist theory in favor of screenwriting, goes to the Strand Bookstore, in downtown Manhattan, to sell off his library of dialectical tomes.
Rebecca Morelle at the BBC: In the 1960s, researchers unearthed two gigantic dinosaur arms. For decades, scientists have speculated about what kind of beast they belonged to.
Brendan Fitzgerald in The Morning News: A man dies, leaving behind, among other things, a combination lock.
Sophia Nguyen in Harvard Magazine: In the early 2000s, a riptide of business scandals toppled Enron, Arthur Andersen, and WorldCom.
Chris Lehman at The Baffler: Whether we like it or not, the big idea behind American democracy is to make us like each other more.
Nikil Saval at Dissent: Few institutions have offered themselves as less promising for the novelist than the modern office.
Norma Clarke at The Times Literary Supplement: Reynolds dominated British art for some three decades before his death in 1792, by which time the British portrait was firmly established.
Bruce Barlett in The American Conservative: A Republican stimulus would undoubtedly have had more tax cuts and less spending, even though every serious study has shown that tax cuts are the least effective method of economic stimulus in a recession.
Rohini Mohan in Guernica (Jagath Weerasinghe, Untitled, 2007): In the seventies, the government ratified a republican constitution that declared the Sinhalese the original inhabitants of the island, and their greatest duty the protection of Buddhism.
An excerpt from Tom Shachtman's Gentleman Scientists and Revolutionaries in Scientific American: During the Revolutionary War, while American laboratory and field research was much reduced, science did not grind to a halt.
Mark Kirby at GQ: Today would've been Matthew Power's 40th birthday. The GQ contributor and friend of GQ staffers past and present died this March while reporting a story along the Nile River in Uganda.
John Quiggin in Crooked Timber: Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975, died on Tuesday.
Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books: The Death of Klinghoffer, John Adams’s 1991 opera about the hijacking of the Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985, has achieved a rare distinction in contemporary classical music: it’s considered so dangerous by its critics that they’d like to have it banned.
David Remnick in The New Yorker: Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, the most charismatic and consequential newspaper editor of postwar America, died at the age of ninety-three on Tuesday.
Rory Stewart in the New York Review of Books: Ashraf Ghani, who has just become the president of Afghanistan, once drafted a document for Hamid Karzai that began: There is a consensus in Afghan society: violence…must end.