Monthly Archives: September 2008

10 posts

A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn by James Donovan

Had Sitting Bull and his war chiefs reacted in the customary skirmishing style of Plains Indian warfare, the outcome would have been very different. But the Sioux and Cheyennes, fighting with their backs to the wall against the encroaching tide of white civilization, opted for a pitched battle and almost from the outset, Custer’s tactical plan went terribly wrong.

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster

The novel is narrated by August Brill, a writer, a widower, an old man. Brill is recovering from a car accident and sharing a house with his daughter and granddaughter, who are both grieving their own losses. Brill can’t sleep and so tells himself a story about a man called Owen Brick, who wakes up to find himself in another America, an America at war, but with itself rather than Iraq. An America in which the Towers stand while all around them falls apart.

Lisa Alcalay Klug: Releasing Your Inner Heebster

But for now, there is only one book and it’s a book that’s all about shouting loudly and proudly that it’s great to be a Jew. The idea for her book came about following an article she wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2005. “I was writing a feature about how cool it is to be a Jew in San Francisco and I profiled local ‘Heebsters’ as I now call them,” she says.

Engaging, Not Confronting, Russia

The West would exacerbate rather than ease this problem if it brought Georgia into NATO. Nor should we try to bring Ukraine into NATO. Ukraine is now independent and recognized by the world as such, but for most of its history its relationship with Russia has been, to say the least, very close; Kiev was the capital of the first Russian state. One assumes the Europeans will continue to prevent either Georgia or Ukraine from joining NATO; but this has not stopped George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and John McCain from continuing to push the idea.

Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder by David Healy

He refuses to accept the dominance of money over medicine and the alarming diagnoses of bipolar disorder in infants. ‘We now have a system that inhibits our abilities to find cures while encouraging companies to seek short-term profits by co-opting bipolar disorder for the purposes of increasing the sales of major tranquilizers to infants. Giving major tranquilizers to children is little different from giving children cancer chemotherapy when they have a cold.’

The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers by Rose Eichenbaum

In fact, the only one who doesn’t fall in with this uplifting sentiment is, God bless her, Shirley MacLaine. With a fabulous display of grande dame orneriness, she even takes Eichenbaum to task for trying to make something monumental out of the whole idea. Exploring the dancer within? Bah humbug.

Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness

Jaynes, a psychologist who taught at Princeton up until his death in 1997, showed how ancient peoples from Mesopotamia to Peru could not “think” as we do today, and were therefore not conscious. Unable to introspect or contemplate metaphor-driven scenarios, they experienced auditory hallucinations — voices of gods actually heard as the Old Testament or the Iliad — which, emanating from the brain’s right hemisphere, told an individual what to do in circumstances of novelty or stress.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Such a pity Mary Ann Shaffer is not around to enjoy her celebrity! Shaffer died in February of this year and thus missed her own miracle—best-sellerdom for a first book written by an already “mature” librarian, former bookseller, and unpublished, aspiring writer. The good news, however, is that her opus is engaging, ingenious and ahead of the publishing game.