Zeus Is Very Sorry January 18, 2018 / Volume LXV, Number 1 Whose Holy Land? Raja Shehadeh in the West Bank Sarah Helm in Gaza xMichelangelo x Alex xOffenbach x Katz x Making America Worse Again South Asian Rage TH CHICAGO MANUAL THE OF STYLE 17th Edition “‘Ch “‘Chicago’ is the rule of reason made ﬂesh. It is belief in se sensible authority and reasonable application thereof. . . . Everything is changing, but some truths there remain steadfast, and they should be not merely rema online but at your ﬁngertips.”—Washington Post onlin CLOTH $70.00 CLO HENRY DAVID THOREAU A Life Laura Dassow Walls “Luminous. . . . Through Walls’s biography, Thoreau once more challenges us to see, with his passion and intensity, the world in all its cruelty and its splendour, riddled with human lies and abundant in natural truths.”—Financial Times CLOTH $35.00 THE RED ATLAS VIVIAN MAIER A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife Pamela Bannos “The achievement of Bannos’s intelligent, irritable selfreﬂexive study is in its restraint. She unseats the ghost and restores to us the woman—but in her own words and images, and without psychologizing. It’s a portrait as direct as any of Maier’s, and what a distinct pleasure it is to meet her gaze again.”—Parul Sehgal, New York Times CLOTH $35.00 How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World John Davies and Alexander J. Kent WITH A FOREWORD BY JAMES RISEN “During the Cold War, the Soviet military undertook a secret mapping program that’s only recently come to light in the West. It was one of the greatest mapping endeavors the world has ever seen. . . . Much of what’s known about this secret Soviet military project is outlined in The Red Atlas.”—National Geographic CLOTH $35.00 THE AENEID A NEW MAP OF WONDERS Virgil A Journey in Search of Modern Marvels TRANSLATED BY DAVID FERRY Caspar Henderson “A marvel throughout. . . . Ferry’s blank verse is as understatedly traditional, and unﬂashy, as his diction. The whole accumulates into a stately, inevitable force.”—New York Review of Books “A magniﬁcent Baroque ediﬁce. Henderson’s composed a literary kunstkammer, one of those old-fashioned ‘cabinets of wonder,’ where learned scholars would cram fossils next to chalices next to seashells next to stuﬀed frog or birds of paradise—whatever captured their fancy. . . . [The book] will linger long after you put it down.”—Wall Street Journal CLOTH $35.00 CLOTH $29.00 OUTLIERS AND AMERICAN VANGUARD ART Lynne Cooke Outliers and American Vanguard Art oﬀers a wonderful opportunity to consider works by schooled and self-taught creators in relation to each other and deﬁned by historical circumstance. It is sure to inspire vigorous conversation about how artists and the work they make are represented. CLOTH $65.00 START-UP POLAND The People Who Transformed an Economy Jan Cienski “Cienski’s work is highly informative, and for Americans, provides an object lesson in what can be learned from the accomplishments, and failures, of other nations, regimes, and economic systems.” —Publishers Weekly CLOTH $27.50 THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS www.press.uchicago.edu Contents 4 8 9 13 16 19 22 24 27 29 34 37 41 43 45 50 52 57 58 James Mann Damage Bigly Prudence Crowther Zeus: The Apology Martin Filler Wiener Werkstätte, 1903–1932: The Luxury of Beauty an exhibition at the Neue Galerie, New York City Catalog of the exhibition edited by Christian Witt-Dörring and Janis Staggs Thomas Powers The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg Adam Kirsch Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture by Laurence Senelick The Real “Tales of Hoffmann”: Origin, History, and Restoration of an Operatic Masterpiece by Vincent Giroud and Michael Kaye, with a foreword by Plácido Domingo Les contes d’Hoffmann an opera by Jacques Offenbach, directed by Bartlett Sher, at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Raja Shehadeh Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror by Gary Fields Geoffrey Wheatcroft Churchill a ﬁlm directed by Jonathan Teplitzky Darkest Hour a ﬁlm directed by Joe Wright Sarah Helm Homeless in Gaza Andrew Butterﬁeld Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City Catalog of the exhibition by Carmen C. Bambach, with contributions from Claire Barry, Francesco Caglioti, Caroline Elam, Marcella Marongiu, and Mauro Mussolin Roderick MacFarquhar The Red Emperor Emily Wilson The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and The Shield of Herakles translated from the Greek by Barry B. Powell Mukul Kesavan The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide by Azeem Ibrahim, with a foreword by Muhammad Yunus Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim- Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging edited by Melissa Crouch Ruth Franklin Improvement by Joan Silber Antony Beevor The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad by Alexis Peri Leningrad 1941–1942: Morality in a City Under Siege by Sergey Yarov, translated from the Russian by Arch Tait Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster by Polina Barskova Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad edited and with an introduction by Polina Barskova, translated from the Russian by Anand Dibble and seven others Alan Ryan Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke by Richard Bourke Fintan O’Toole Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at London’s National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner Sue Halpern Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott Attack of the Fifty Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum and Smart Contracts by David Gerard David Salle Alex Katz an exhibition at Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York City Catalog of the exhibition with essays by Frank O’Hara and Tom McGlynn Letters from Matthew Evangelista and Strobe Talbott CONTRIBUTORS ANTONY BEEVOR , the author of Stalingrad, is a Visiting Professor at the University of Kent. His latest book is Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge. ANDREW BUTTERFIELD is President of Andrew Butterﬁeld Fine Arts. He is the author of The Sculptures of Andrea del Verrocchio, among other books. PRUDENCE CROWTHER is on the editorial staff of The New York Review. MARTIN FILLER’s Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume III: From Antoni Gaudí to Maya Lin, a collection of his writing on architecture in these pages, will be published in September. RUTH FRANKLIN’s most recent book is Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, for which she received the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography in 2016. SUE HALPERN is a regular contributor to The New York Review and a Scholar-in-Residence at Middlebury. Her latest book, the novel Summer Hours at the Robbers Library, will be published in February. SARAH HELM, the former Middle East Correspondent of The Independent, is the author, most recently, of Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women. MUKUL KESAVAN teaches the history of colonial India at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. ADAM KIRSCH is a poet and critic. His most recent book is The Global Novel: Writing the World in the Twenty-ﬁrst Century. RODERICK M ACFARQUHAR is Leroy B. Williams Research Professor of History and Political Science at Harvard. His latest publication as editor and contributor is The Politics of China: Sixty Years of the People’s Republic of China. JAMES MANN is a Fellow-in-Residence at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. His books include The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redeﬁne American Power and Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet. FINTAN O’TOOLE is a columnist with The Irish Times and Leonard L. Milberg Visiting Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton. His writings on Brexit have won both the European Press Prize and the Orwell Prize for journalism. THOMAS POWERS’s books include Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb and The Killing of Crazy Horse. ALAN RYAN is the author of On Tocqueville, On Marx, and the two-volume work On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present. DAVID SALLE is a painter and stage designer. His most recent book is How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art. RAJA SHEHADEH’s latest book is Where the Line Is Drawn: A Tale of Crossings, Friendships, and Fifty Years of Occupation in Israel-Palestine. He is a founder of the human rights group Al-Haq, an afﬁliate of the International Commission of Jurists. GEOFFREY WHEATCROFT is the author of The Controversy of Zion, The Strange Death of Tory England, and Yo, Blair! EMILY WILSON is a Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her verse translation of the Odyssey was published in November. Editor: Ian Buruma Deputy Editor: Michael Shae Senior Editors: Eve Bowen, Gabriel Winslow-Yost Prudence Crowther, Julie Just Senior Editor, Poetry: Jana Prikryl Assistant Editor: Andrew Katzenstein Founding Editors: Robert B. Silvers (1929–2017) Barbara Epstein (1928–2006) Publisher: Rea S. Hederman Associate Publisher: Catherine Tice Advertising Director: Lara Frohlich Andersen Max Nelson and Liza Batkin, Editorial Assistants; Lucy Jakub, Editorial Intern; Sylvia Lonergan, Researcher; Katie Jefferis and John Thorp, Type Production; Janet Noble, Cover Production; Kazue Soma Jensen, Production; Maryanne Chaney, Web Production Coordinator; Michael King, Technical Director; Ty Anania, Advertising Associate, Classiﬁeds and Special Listings; Nicholas During, Publicity; Nancy Ng, Design Director; Janice Fellegara, Director of Marketing and Planning; Andrea Moore, Assistant Circulation Manager; Matthew Howard, Editorial Director, Digital; Angela Hederman, Special Projects; Diane R. Seltzer, Ofﬁce Manager/List Manager; Patrick Hederman, Rights; Margarette Devlin, Comptroller; Pearl Williams, Assistant Comptroller; Teddy Wright, Receptionist; Microﬁlm and Microcard Services: NAPC, 300 North Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48106. NYRDaily Matt Seaton, Editor; Lucy McKeon, Assistant Editor. ART AS CONVERSATION nybooks.com/daily » Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Ravilious & the Neo-Romantics » Prudence Peiffer: Agnes Martin & Richard Tuttle » Jenny Uglow: Modigliani: Fevered Life, Pure Line » Adam Dalva: A Smashed and Splintered Music Plus: David Shulman on Trump and Jerusalem, Melissa Gira Grant on sexual harassment, and more LADY DYNAMITE Goddess of Anarchy The LIFE and TIMES of LUCY PARSONS, AMERICAN RADICAL J AC Q U E L I N E J O N E S 1 '$ -' ($#+&'# IUI[\MZ PQ[\WZQIV("(&& (##($#'(* &,' "(# #2 1(ZMUIZSIJTM ZM[MIZKPIVLQV[QOP\ ('(")''(#&" %) "#"'' &#*&( " (#)(# ",(&#&"&- PQ[\WZQKITÅO]ZM_PW_M & -"+2 0 ) (.&&./+""")(#&# 1)-&'#"'+')"%) ÅO]ZMQV\PMPQ[\WZaWN \PM !&" (%) " #"'WVMWN W]ZVI\QWV¼[ UW[\LQ[\QVO]Q[PML PQ[\WZQIV[ÅTT[PMZ "&&(*# ('&!& +(#((^Q^QL LZIUI"(&( )"&'("" ('&*'2 0 )(#&# On the cover: Zefat, June 14, 2010; photograph by Stephen Shore from his book From Galilee to the Negev, published by Phaidon in 2014 (Stephen Shore/ 303 Gallery, New York). Also on the cover: Zeus with Cupid (Luigi Spina/Electa/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images). The New York Review of Books (ISSN 0028-7504), published 20 times a year, monthly in January, July, August, and September; semi-monthly in February, March, April, May, June, October, November, and December. NYREV, Inc., 435 Hudson Street, Suite 300, New York, NY 10014-3994. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY 10001 and at additional ofﬁces. Canada Post Corp. Sales Agreement #40031306. Postmaster: Send address changes to The New York Review of Books, P.O. Box 9310, Big Sandy, TX 75755-9310. Subscription services: www.nybooks.com/customer-service, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-354-0050 in the US, 903-636-1101 elsewhere. 3 James Mann The tax legislation that was just rammed through Congress makes it quite clear that Donald Trump’s ﬁrst year in the White House has been much more damaging to the nation than that of any other president in modern times. Before this bill, it might have been possible, though wrong, to argue that as president, Trump had brought to his ofﬁce more sound and fury than action. The notion took hold for much of 2017 that his failures in Congress, along with a series of court rulings, had limited his impact; the failure to repeal Obamacare and the courts’ blocking of the early versions of his travel ban were cited as examples of the supposedly constrained Trump presidency. No more. The sweeping tax bill gives a huge tax cut to corporations and to wealthy individuals, and will add roughly $1 trillion over the next ten years to the federal deﬁcit. It will widen further the already enormous gulf between the very wealthy and the rest of America. And it sets the stage for an attempt by Republicans in Congress in 2018 to shrink the federal deﬁcit by cutting benefits to a large number of Americans through reductions in Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs. The end-of-year tax legislation forces a reexamination of quite a few other ideas about the Trump presidency that have taken hold from time to time over the past twelve months. One is the assumption that the Republicans in Congress and their leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan viewed Trump merely as a temporary tool. Once the Republicans got the tax cuts they were so desperately seeking (so this argument went), they would prove more willing to move against him, to condemn his excesses and his outrages. But now that the tax bill has been completed, they seem more wedded to Trump than ever; they will need his support for, among other things, their budget-cutting efforts to follow. So, too, the passage of the tax bill suggests a new look at the question of what might happen if Trump were to be replaced by Vice President Mike Pence. There has been a sotto voce line of argument among liberals that Pence would be even worse for the country than Trump. The logic of this was that Pence seemed more conservative than Trump and more beholden to ﬁnancial interests like those of the Koch brothers; at the same time, he is closer to congressional Republicans and thus would be more able to get legislation through Congress. But the tax bill underscores the fact that Trump himself can get spectacularly regressive legislation through Congress; the supposedly “populist” streak that he occasionally displayed during his presidential campaign is sheer ﬁction, at least when it comes to economic policy. 4 More importantly, although Pence stands on the far right of the political spectrum, he at least is on the spectrum of ordinary politics, while Trump is not. His tendencies veer toward authoritarianism and white nationalism, with an overlay of conspiracy theories and hucksterism. Pence is a conventional, even boring politician, and while deeply conservative, he would bring with him far less of the racism and far fewer of the attacks on enemies, truth, and the rule of law that have proved so incredibly damaging to the nation’s social fabric under Trump. E ven before the tax bill, Trump’s ﬁrst year had caused great harm to the nation. It is worth examining where he The wall along the Mexican border that Trump ordered to be constructed as soon as he took ofﬁce is nowhere close to being built. He has not persuaded Mexico to pay for it, and at this point Congress hasn’t agreed to fund it either. Trump’s original plan to restrict Muslim immigration into the United States was blocked for most of the year in the courts. The plan had to be revised not once but twice; then, in early December, the Supreme Court allowed the third version of the plan to go forward while legal challenges proceed. As Trump’s top-priority initiatives got bogged down in the courts, so too did some of his other campaigns. Last summer, he announced on Twitter one morning that he was barring transgendered Americans from the for Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who refused to conﬁrm him. Meanwhile, a new proposal is being circulated by a right-wing legal scholar to expand the number of appellate judgeships (now 179) by two- or threefold, and to increase the number of district judges as well, with the avowed purpose of “undoing the judicial legacy of President Barack Obama.”2 In short, while the courts have served as an occasional constraint upon Trump during his ﬁrst year in ofﬁce, he is moving quickly to reshape the judiciary so that, in the long run, it may prove to be less independent and less constraining than it has been. Elsewhere, across a range of environmental and regulatory agencies, Trump has appointed ofﬁcials with a record of hostility to the idea that the federal government operates for the beneﬁt of the public. The most prominent example is Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who as the Oklahoma attorney general had repeatedly gone to court to block various EPA actions. Over the past year, Pruitt has introduced a series of initiatives favorable to the industries the EPA regulates, for example eliminating rules that limit carbon-dioxide emission. He has also repeatedly questioned the work of the EPA’s staff on climate change and other scientiﬁc issues. It is a mistake to think that Trump has been causing damage only to a few speciﬁc regulations or areas of policy. The effects have been pervasive. One of the most detailed descriptions of what Trump has meant at the grassroots level comes from Michael Lewis, in a recent article in Vanity Fair about the Department of Agriculture. 3 Inside the department, the effects of the new Trump era are registered division by division, program by program: cuts for the food stamp program, a weakening of the regulations governing school nutrition, looser rules for meat inspection, the politicization of the department’s science programs, instructions to the career staff to stop using the phrase “climate change.” All of this has taken place within Trump’s ﬁrst year in ofﬁce. Gerald Scarfe Damage Bigly has had the greatest impact and where he has failed. Until the tax bill, many of the domestic proposals to which Trump had accorded the highest priority had run aground; either Congress failed to approve them or they were blocked in the courts. He said he was going to do away with the Affordable Care Act on the ﬁrst day of his administration, but it remains on the books today. It is sometimes argued that Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security program, created in 1935, did not become accepted as a permanent feature of American life until two and a half decades later, when Dwight Eisenhower, the ﬁrst Republican president after Roosevelt, ﬁnished his eight-year term without seeking to abolish it. In a comparable way, historians may someday come to view the Trump presidency as the time when Obamacare (or at least some of its central features, like required coverage for preexisting conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until age twenty-six) became an established part of America’s health system.1 1 Both Trump and the Republican Congress have sought to weaken the Affordable Care Act, Trump with an executive order eliminating some subsidies to insurance companies and Congress in a provision of the tax bill eliminating mandated coverage. But the law still stands. armed forces. That policy too has been blocked in the courts. Nevertheless, even when the courts have ruled against him or Congress has failed to do what he wants, Trump has inﬂicted considerable damage on domestic policy through his appointments and executive actions. The effects have been clearest and most lasting on the federal judiciary. For most of the past year Trump trumpeted his early appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as one of his greatest successes. That was a largely hollow boast, since the person most responsible for the appointment was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Court throughout the previous year. However, the harm to the judicial branch and Trump’s personal imprint on it are considerably greater when one considers the lower courts. By midDecember, Trump had appointed twelve judges to the US Court of Appeals, one level down from the Supreme Court, the most this early in any presidency since Richard Nixon’s. Virtually all of them are from the right. At the level of district or trial courts, Trump’s nominations have included ﬁgures like thirty-sixyear-old Brett J. Talley, who has never tried a case and was unanimously rated “not qualiﬁed” by the American Bar Association. This proved too much even When it comes to dealing with the rest of the world, Trump has been a oneman wrecking ball, destroying many of the understandings, agreements, and relationships that have served as the foundation for American foreign policy for a half-century or more. The damage is not conﬁned to speciﬁc policies: Trump has gone after the institutions that guide American foreign policy, 2 See Linda Greenhouse, “A Conservative Plan to Weaponize the Federal Courts,” The New York Times, November 23, 2017. 3 “Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against the USDA’s Scientists,” November 2017. The New York Review Stories by Lee Conell EXAMINE THE WORLD S U B C O RT I C A L SUBCORTICAL “Conell brings the characters in her rich debut collection to life in weird, wise, and often poignant ways.”—Publishers Weekly SEHERRN POETRY AND THEOLOGY IN THE MODERNIST PERIOD “A signiﬁcant addition to our understanding of the poetry and poetics of Eliot, Jones, and Auden. Highly informative and enlightening.”—Paul Mariani, author of God and the Imagination: On FROM MADMAN TO CRIME FIGHTER Poets, Poetry, and the Ineffable KFHERRN The Scientist in Western Culture RED MODERNISM American Poetry and the Spirit of Communism The story of the scientist in Western culture, from medieval images of alchemists to present-day depictions of cyberpunks and genetic engineers. SEHERRN press.jhu.edu “A fascinating, timely, and rigorous study, Red Modernism is a virtuosic treatment of the question of communism in American modernist poetry.”—Joel Nickels, author of The Poetry of the Possible: Spontaneity, Modernism, and the Multitude KFHERRN THE BLACK SKYSCRAPER Architecture and the Perception of Race “A must read for anyone interested in the intersections between buildings, bodies, and books at the turn of the twentieth century.” —William Gleason, author of Sites Unseen: Architecture, Race, and American Literature KFHERRN January 18, 2018 5 6 I n cases where his policies aren’t entirely new, Trump’s style—his pattern of tweets and personal insults—has added a new dimension to them, with unpredictable results. The biggest foreign policy challenge of his ﬁrst year came from North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear weapons program. Trump’s threats to use force against North Korea were not a departure from past American policy; under the rubric of “coercive diplomacy,” previous administrations have also considered possible military action against North Korea. But Trump went a step further by taunting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, calling him “Little Rocket Man” not only in tweets but in formal settings including the United Nations General Assembly. He even threatened that he would “totally destroy” the country. he is himself transferred away. With Trump’s evident support, he left a wide array of senior positions vacant for most or all of the past year. That meant, for example, that he dealt with North Korea without either an assistant secretary of state for East Asia or a US ambassador in South Korea; the US still does not have an ambassador to Egypt, whose government is beginning to deal with the Russian military once again. The result of the State Department’s short-handedness is that ever more policy is being made by overtaxed ofﬁcials at the National Security Council and the White House, which is apparently the way Trump wants it. The vacancies are merely the top of the heap of rubble at the State Department; Tillerson has acceded to a wave of deep budget cuts that eliminate large numbers of positions throughout the department. Samuel Corum/Anadolu/Getty Images especially the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. This has been a yearlong campaign, starting immediately after Trump took ofﬁce. In his ﬁrst week as president, he announced that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Paciﬁc Partnership (TPP), the trade agreement the Obama administration had negotiated that was aimed at strengthening America’s ties with eleven countries in Asia and elsewhere. That decision strengthened perceptions in Asia of the US as a nation in retreat and thus helps China in its ambitions to become the leading power in the region. In December, Trump tore up decades of US policy by deciding to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This threatens to harm America’s relations with nations in the Middle East that have long supported US policy, such as Jordan and Egypt. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said following Trump’s announcement that there will no longer be a role for the United States in the Middle East peace process. Far-reaching as they were, the decisions on TPP and Jerusalem merely served as bookends for the many foreign policy changes in Trump’s ﬁrst year. During 2017, he also withdrew the US from the Paris accord on climate change. He became the ﬁrst US president to waver on America’s commitment to NATO, refusing to say on his ﬁrst trip to Europe whether the US would abide by Article V of the NATO treaty, which provides for collective defense. (In that case, he later came around after repeated prodding by his foreign policy team.) He roiled America’s closest neighbors by ordering a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Beyond this undermining of past policies and agreements, Trump conducted himself in ways that eroded America’s friendships with other countries and their leaders. His penchant for confrontation extended even to America’s closest allies (indeed, more to allies than to adversaries, since he mostly held back from challenging Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping). Eight days after he was sworn in, he engaged in an icy phone-call standoff with Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull. (“I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous,” the new president told the leader of America’s closest friend in the Asia-Paciﬁc region.) In late November, Trump outraged the British public and drew a public rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May when he retweeted incendiary, inaccurate antiMuslim videos posted by a leader of the far-right group Britain First. Along the way, there were Trumpian dustups with Mexico, Germany, and South Korea, among others. Trump regularly suggests that America is paying too much for its alliances and agreements, and that other countries aren’t paying enough. It sometimes seems as though he believes that we don’t need allies and would be better off without them. America’s closest partners have responded accordingly. Early in December Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, said that the Trump administration has come to view Europe as a “competitor or economic rival” rather than an ally and that relations with the United States “will never be the same.” White supremacists marching through the campus of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, August 2017 In the midst of these policy upheavals, Trump was responsible for the most unstable foreign policy team of any president since World War II. His ﬁrst national security adviser, Michael Flynn, lasted less than a month in ofﬁce before he was forced to resign, and by the end of the year had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. At this writing, it appears that Tillerson may also be headed for a tenure shorter than any secretary of state in modern times: a series of reports in early December said that Trump would be replacing him within weeks. While Tillerson is still there, Trump has consistently undermined him. One day Tillerson states that the US is ready to talk to North Koreans. The following day, the White House says the exact opposite. US foreign policy can survive some personnel upheavals, but Trump has done institutional damage as well to the organizations that are responsible for shaping America’s relations with the rest of the world. At the time he took ofﬁce, Trump’s principal target was the CIA, which he and his supporters accused of being part of a “deep state” conspiracy against him, an attack prompted by the agency’s reports on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. He continued throughout the year to attack the CIA, accusing it of being partisan or biased and its former leaders of being “political hacks.” The harm at the State Department was worse. Tillerson appeared to be the sort of corporate hatchet man who is brought in from outside to cut the staff as drastically as possible, before Worst of all has been the harm Trump’s America First foreign policy has caused in the realm of ideas. Over the past seven decades, the United States at least professed to stand for principles of human rights and democracy (although American policies did not always live up to those ideals). Under Trump, the ideals have been all but abandoned. He seems to believe only in commercial advantage, and rarely if ever makes even a touchstone reference to human rights. The major countries he has courted most assiduously, avoiding confrontation wherever he can, have been autocratic regimes: China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Whether coincidentally or not, these also happen to be three countries with large sums of public or private money to invest overseas. T he greatest damage done during Trump’s ﬁrst year concerns neither domestic nor foreign policy, but something far deeper: it is the harm he has caused to America’s political system and to the democratic norms that underlie it. No evaluation of the impact Trump has had as president could be complete without addressing his attacks upon the rule of law, upon notions of political and racial tolerance, upon national unity, upon the freedom of the press, upon civil discourse, upon truth itself. The result has been to fray the bonds that hold American society together. Trump has abandoned the very notion of civil discourse by refusing to accord his political opponents even a minimum level of respect. No other president in modern times has so insistently portrayed his adversaries as dishonorable. The usual practice of ordinary democratic give-and-take seems alien to him. At various times, usually through his Twitter account, he has responded to criticism by lashing out at Republican senators such as John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Bob Corker, and Jeff Flake, as well as his attorney general Jeff Sessions, disparaging their motives, their character, their height (Corker, Marco Rubio), or their ancestry (the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel, impugned because of his Mexican-American background). Other presidents have aspired to become moral leaders; Trump has become America’s chief thug. He has seriously undermined the rule of law and the very principles of democracy by calling for the investigation and prosecution of his political adversaries. The cries of “lock her up” that marked his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton (which were denounced at the time, even by prominent Republicans, as typical of a banana republic) have evolved in 2017 into his repeated suggestions that the Justice Department should go after her (with, now, the support of many Republicans). Trump ﬁred the FBI director, James Comey, after he resisted Trump’s pleading to go easy on Michael Flynn. At this writing, it is not clear whether he will try to ﬁre Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who took over from Comey the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But by early December, his supporters were engaged in a campaign, with his evident support, to undermine the legitimacy of both Mueller personally and the FBI as an institution. When his travel ban was blocked in the courts, Trump responded by denouncing the judges. So much for the independence of and respect for the judiciary. Trump has shown even less willingness to respect the constitutional validity of another American political tradition: an independent press as a restraint and watchdog on government. Any stories he doesn’t like are dismissed as “fake news,” along with the news organizations that have published or broadcast them—the very word “fake” underscoring that he refuses to recognize their legitimacy. Beyond the press, Trump seems to reject the concepts of objective truth, rational discourse, and scientiﬁc expertise, the Enlightenment ideals on which this country was founded. From the earliest days of his administration, he has asserted his own contrary-to-fact versions of events even when plain, veriﬁable evidence proves otherwise. Consider, for example, his claims that the crowds at his inauguration were bigger than those for President Obama, or his insistence that he won the popular vote in the 2016 election. Finally, Trump has sought, repeatedly and deliberately, to sow divisions. He has attacked one group after another: Mexicans, Muslims, protesting black athletes. In the process, he has brought to the surface some of the raw, ugly emotions of hate in America that in ordinary times lay more or less suppressed, and has given presidential validation to racism and nativism, along with hostility toward education, science, and professionalism. The effects are poisonous. If the United States were to face some The New York Review J. PAUL GETTY TRUST OCCASIONAL PAPERS IN CULTURAL HERITAGE POLICY NUMBER 1 2017 THOMAS G. WEISS AND NINA CONNELLY Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict Zones MUST CULTURAL HERITAGE ALSO BE A VICTIM OF WAR? The J. Paul Getty Trust, prompted by the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq, is enlisting the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect to engage in an educational campaign for the protection of cultural heritage in conﬂict zones. The campaign will raise awareness of UN Member States regarding the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conﬂict and its additional protocols, as well as recent resolutions by the UN Security Council. To that end, the Getty has initiated a series of papers on culture at risk. Learn more about this effort at getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers A World of Art, Research, Conservation, and Philanthropy. GET T Y CONSERVATION INSTITUTE + GET T Y FOUNDATION + GET T Y RESEARCH INSTITUTE + J. PAUL GET T Y MUSEUM Image: The Umayyad, or Great Mosque, of Aleppo,Syria, March 10, 2017. Photo: Alfred Yaghobzadeh / Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images) / © 2017 The Associated Press Text and Design: © 2017 J. Paul Getty Trust January 18, 2018 7 sudden crisis—an attack overseas or at home, an economic collapse—Trump, like any president, would need to summon forth a sense of national unity in response. He would instead confront the sullen, divided nation he has so steadily provoked. Even if there is no such national emergency, the divisions he has created could last, harming the nation for years after he leaves ofﬁce. It is frequently said that through his incessant bellicosity, Trump is “playing to his base,” but that explanation raises more questions than it answers. His base represents less than 40 percent of the country. The election results of the past two months, particularly in Virginia and Alabama, demonstrate the limitations of merely exciting his base; by themselves, his core supporters are usually not enough for victory. Why, then, does Trump not try to expand his support in the way that other presidents have often done? (Bill Clinton’s strategy of “triangulation” comes to mind.) One unsettling possibility is that Trump believes that somehow, in some future crisis, his polarizing approach may succeed in galvanizing the country into some new political constellation in which his base of 35 to 38 percent will suddenly jump to a majority. Another possibility, even more disturbing, is that we are witnessing a strategic embrace of rule by minority: Trump may believe that his judicial appointments and his favoritism toward the donor class of the wealthiest Americans, when combined with political tactics like gerrymandering and voter suppression, will enable him to govern and win reelection without ever gaining anything close to a popular majority. The third possibility is that there is no strategy at all; Trump cannot expand his support simply because he is by nature unable to do so. He can manage to convey only anger, resentment, and prejudice; he lacks the ability to heal divisions, to win over those who oppose him, to seek common ground. On the day after Trump was sworn in, more than a million Americans turned out in protest demonstrations in Washington and other cities across the nation. The harm he has caused to the nation since then is severe enough to justify demonstrations many times that size. Street demonstrations, though, cannot remove Trump from ofﬁce. He will stay on, most likely, for four or eight years, until he is defeated at the polls or removed from ofﬁce through impeachment or the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. There are now extensive debates among Trump’s many opponents about which of these approaches to pursue. They involve serious questions of tactics and strategy that are beyond the scope of this article. After Trump’s ﬁrst year in ofﬁce, what is clear beyond doubt is that the damage he is causing to the nation, to its domestic and foreign policies, and even more to the rule of law, to its constitutional system, to its social fabric, and to its very sense of national unity, is piling up week by week. The longer he stays, the worse it will get. —December 21, 2017 Zeus: The Apology Heinrich Lossow Prudence Crowther The cloud-gatherer Zeus issued this message today through his public relations team of rustling oak trees: I came of agelessness just after heaven and earth were formed, when there weren’t many rules yet about behavior, since I’d hardly made any. If someone broke an oath, I threw a thunderbolt—that was one of the few. Nor was there any “workplace culture” on Olympus to speak of. That’s no excuse, I know now. I will leave it for others to judge whether the fact that my father cut off my grandfather’s genitals and ﬂung them into the ocean and ate all my siblings makes any difference. One way or another, clearly I have needed to channel some kind of insecurity, and over the last few weeks I’ve asked Athena to put together a phalanx of gods and mortals to help me wrestle with those demons that come with the territory of being able to mess with everything at will. It doesn’t happen overnight. But let me address the stories told to the media by four brave women named Leda, Io, Europa, and Danaë, who felt able to name themselves, if not those accusations leveled by Leto, Demeter, Thetis, Mnemosyne, and the hundreds of others who preferred to remain anonymous—smart women and good lays all, for whom I have nothing but the utmost respect. As for Ganymede, he will conﬁrm that I have already made him whole for his “cup-bearing.” We remain friendly. These stories are true. At the time, I told myself that because I always asked ﬁrst before blinding a woman with the sight of my full splendor as Lord of the Sky, it was OK. Yesterday I learned otherwise. We will all be sitting down soon with the Furies to see what kinds of remedies are out there. Leda: I shudder to think that you interpreted the caress of your thighs by my dark swan webs as anything other than a frank infatuation with your intellect. I totally accept that you did not “lead me on” (although even 8 your mother said, “Are you going out like that?”). And if you did somehow understand the consequences of what I thought were shared feelings at the moment I came—the Trojan War, etc.—that didn’t necessarily compensate for your terror and my falling asleep so fast afterward. I get it. “Indifferent beak,” c’est moi. Io—or “10,” as I used to call you in all genuine affection—I’m mortiﬁed to think I wrapped us in a dark cloud in broad daylight without your consent, though it was a pretty standard prank back then, as was turning you into a heifer the second Hera caught wind. Of course I was lying when I told her I’d never seen you before, and naturally she knew you didn’t buy that little bell for yourself. Playing the horndog with one of her own priestesses was inexcusable. Duh. Please do not blame her, therefore, for forcing you to wander the earth forever being stung by a gadﬂy. I owe a special apology to Europa, you who so innocently encouraged your young friends to mount my broad, chestnut-bright back, touching in gentle wonder my horns like the crescent moon, breathing in the ﬂowery fragrance of my magic dander as I licked your nut-brown feet. The dolphins, Nereids, and Tritons who appeared to normalize the abduction have been called enablers, but let’s face it, only the bull was at fault there—and I am not that bull. My lawyer wanted to argue that since I’m not, I can’t be held accountable. That sounded right to me, actually, but Chiron put his hoof down. I am on a journey for sure. And why on earth I imagined I could move on Danaë as a shower of gold coins and get away with it . . . Yes, they remain a good diversiﬁer to stocks and bonds, but you deserved so much more than a relationship with change. I am really, really sorry. All that conceded, some of what has been said is plain wrong. For instance, I would never have become a chicken to seduce a woman who had made herself into a rooster when she saw me coming. As I have admitted, however, there is enough truth in these stories to make me profoundly ashamed. I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my gazillions of offspring and their mothers. So after consulting with Edith Hamilton, I have decided to take a leave from rainmaking to earn back your trust. A Cyclops wrote: “I’m not half the man I used to be/There’s a shadow hangin’ over me/Oh I believe in yester-me.” I agree. But while I feel ghastly about those I have hurt, my travels, in whatever guise, have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers, with laid-off satyrs whose jobs have gone to other satyrs, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people and features of our planet, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they have had no choice but to place in me, given my prerogatives. I’m grateful to have this latest chance, and swear I will not blow the reckoning. Good night, and good luck with that. The New York Review Between Nouveau and Deco Martin Filler Private Collection Wiener Werkstätte, 1903–1932 : The Luxury of Beauty an exhibition at the Neue Galerie, New York City, October 26, 2017–January 29, 2018. Catalog of the exhibition edited by Christian Witt-Dörring and Janis Staggs. Prestel/Neue Galerie, 576 pp., $65.00 1. The imaginative fervor that gripped avant-garde master builders and artisans around 1900 in Vienna, the capital of the vast and culturally diverse Austro-Hungarian Empire, paralleled equally radical innovation in other creative realms, including the music of Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg, the painting of Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka, and the writings of Arthur Schnitzler and Sigmund Freud. Yet the singular contributions to the visual arts that the Viennese made during this epoch have never loomed large enough in general chronicles of modernism. The constant rewriting of art history is not solely the province of critics and scholars; cultural institutions exert enormous inﬂuence on the way the past is perceived. This has been demonstrated most forcefully by the strong Francophile bias of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, whose founding director, Alfred H. Barr Jr., set out a Gallocentric narrative of modernism—a begat-begat-begat genealogy that began with Cézanne and posited Cubism as the central development of twentieth- century art. Barr’s highly selective account deeply affected received opinion for many decades. However, even some loyal supporters of MoMA have been aware of how much has been neglected because of Barr’s preferences. Among them is Ronald Lauder, the New York cosmetics heir, collector, and longtime trustee of the Modern, who served as its board chairman from 1995 to 2005 and cofounded the Neue Galerie, a privately funded museum devoted to Austrian and German modernism, in 2001. The idea for the Neue Galerie began with Serge Sabarsky, a Vienna-born, New York–based dealer in Expressionist art who in 1993 bought a BeauxArts mansion on Fifth Avenue and started a foundation devoted to advancing awareness of that work. After Sabarsky’s death in 1996, his friend and client Lauder took over the project and created what now seems an indispensible part of the city’s cultural life, not least because the Neue Galerie’s high standards of programming and presentation have almost single-handedly redressed the Modern’s systematic overemphasis on the School of Paris. In recent years, such hugely popular Neue Galerie exhibitions as “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937” and “Berlin Metropolis: 1918–1933” have stood out as major curatorial accomplishments. They are now followed by yet another triumph, “Wiener Werkstätte, 1903–1932: The Luxury of Beauty,” a comprehensive survey of the applied January 18, 2018 Koloman Moser’s design for a poster announcing the opening of the Wiener Werkstätte Neustiftgasse showroom, 1904–1905 arts collective founded in Vienna by the architect Josef Hoffmann, the artist Koloman Moser, and the patron and collector Fritz Waerndorfer. The Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops) was a direct offshoot of the Vienna Secession, the maverick faction of avant-garde painters, sculptors, and architects who in 1897 broke away from the stultifyingly conservative Association of Austrian Artists. The new exhibition, brilliantly curated by Christian Witt-Dörring and Janis Staggs, makes a wholly convincing case for this brief efﬂorescence of incomparably exquisite high-style design. On view are more than four hundred objects, including furniture, glassware, ceramics, metalwork both precious and base, jewelry, wallpaper, fabrics, graphic design, and the charming artists’ postcards with which the alliance inexpensively propagandized its ambitious agenda. The show has been stunningly installed by the Chicago architect John Vinci, whose coup de théâtre is an uncannily accurate recreation of the quirky but captivating gallery that Dagobert Peche—a Wiener Werkstätte stalwart who might be termed the organization’s id because of his untrammeled and often disruptive inventiveness, in contrast to Hoffmann, the group’s rational superego—executed within Hoffmann’s Austrian Pavilion at the 1925 Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, the Paris extravaganza that gave its name to Art Deco. Although several scholars have already convincingly proposed that the Wiener Werkstätte was the missing link between Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the Neue Galerie show and catalog conﬁrm this notion. The eightpound exhibition catalog harks back to the doorstop museum publications of the 1980s. Yet however opulent WittDörring and Staggs’s gorgeously illustrated text might appear, it is ﬁlled with so much new research based on archival sources that it ranks as the most important reference work on the subject. Received notions of the group and its clientele have perpetuated clichés of a decadent imperial society obliviously waltzing on the rim of a political volcano. However, the rareﬁed objects produced by this decorative arts consortium do seem characteristic of a pre–Great War culture of plutocratic privilege—in stark contrast to the out- put of the Bauhaus, which was founded the year after that devastating conﬂict ended. But because the Wiener Werkstätte managed to persist beyond the downfall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for more than a decade—a period no less economically difﬁcult for hugely diminished Austria than for its co- combatant Germany—it is incorrect to see it as a cultural hothouse ﬂower. The exhibition demonstrates how the Wiener Werkstätte went through several successive phases to survive ﬁnancially. If one of its many product lines was not selling, there was no philosophical compunction against coming up with something completely different to please customers, at least within the group’s expansive stylistic parameters. This noble experiment in advanced design was nothing less than a conduit for a richly multicultural, if politically untenable, society that was coming apart at the seams bit by bit. Although there are strong underpinnings of Classicism in many of its designs—such as Hoffmann’s famous brass centerpiece, circa 1924, a ﬂuted, footed bowl with extravagant curlicue handles that spiral wildly outward with irresistible insouciance—it is the tension between tight control and wild abandon that gives them a contradictory quality so much in tune with that time, and ours as well. Apart from the duality of so many Wiener Werkstätte designs—which often juxtaposed urban sophistication and peasant vitality, as in Vally Wieselthier’s ceramic sculptures of women who seem equal part jaded showgirl and feckless milkmaid—the group’s broad range deﬁes easy deﬁnition. In its more folkloristic manifestations one can detect an afﬁnity for the Magyar side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while evocations of a far older empire—the Byzantine—are evident in jewelry designs such as Hoffmann’s rectilinear brooches, so densely encrusted with multicolored semiprecious stones that they recall the jewels of the empress Theodora as depicted in the Ravenna mosaics. It now seems incredible that one company could turn out both Bertold Löfﬂer’s anorexic stoneware bud vases (circa 1906) and then a year later Michael Powolny’s chubby ceramic putti representing the Four Seasons (high-style precursors of the kitschig Hummel ﬁgurines ﬁrst made in 1935). Moser’s silver-and-niello sugar box of 1903, its cubic form further reinforced by an all- over black-and-silver- checked surface, is as severe as a Donald Judd sculpture. Conversely, Peche’s bombastic walnut writing desk of 1922 is so massive and overwrought that it could be best described as Babylonian Baroque. Yet they all bore the superimposed double-W label devised for the ﬁrm by Moser (who also came up with distinctive initialed logos for each of its participating artists), and one cannot say that any single aesthetic represents the Wiener Werkstätte, which can only be understood in all its bewildering complexity. The group faced the same basic problem that bedeviled several of its earlier 9 2. The economic premise of design reform groups was always shaky. The Bauhaus was a rare exception, thanks to its being a state- sponsored school (hence its ofﬁcial name, Staatliches Bauhaus) and thus free from the ﬁnancial pressures of a commercial enterprise. In due course its numerous design patents and licensing agreements (especially the hugely popular Bauhaus wallpaper lines) brought in a steady if not enormous income that, with admirable equity, was parceled out to students who devised the 10 MAK , Vienna Private Collection Koloman Moser and Fritz Waerndorfer in the ofﬁce of the Wiener Werkstätte on Neustiftgasse, circa 1904 Josef Hoffmann: brooch acquired by Bertha Waerndorfer, 1907 Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of the Wiener Werksätte counterparts in the British Arts and Crafts movement, including the Century Guild of Artists, established by Arthur Mackmurdo in 1883; the Art Workers’ Guild, founded in 1884 by the architect William Lethaby and others; and C. R. Ashbee’s Guild and School of Handicraft (1888). Each of them was self- consciously modeled after medieval craftsmen’s guilds (though with less emphasis on exclusionary job protection, a central element of those precursors of modern labor unions). They all espoused preindustrial fabrication methods and sought to bring good design to the masses. Yet the objects they produced—even those not made from intrinsically precious materials—were so labor-intensive that they could never compete with machinemade items affordable by the working class, and thus became luxury goods for the rich. Design reform groups that were established on conventional business models fared better ﬁnancially than their utopian counterparts. William Morris’s London-based home furnishings concern, Morris & Co. (as it was renamed in 1875 to capitalize on its mastermind’s increasing renown), weathered successive changes in popular taste and lasted until 1940, forced out of business only by the Blitz. Interestingly, it was not the earnest Morris, a crusading socialist, to whom the Vienna avant-garde gravitated among British designers, but rather the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose outlook was darker and more emotionally complex than the heartily straightforward ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Not for nothing was Mackintosh’s Glasgow circle dubbed “The Spook School,” in response to the wraith-like quality and spiritual subtext of its decorative schemes. Indeed, one of the Wiener Werkstätte’s signature motifs—repetitive right-angled grids in wood or metalwork—came directly from Mackintosh. His designs were extensively published in the new halftone-illustrated international applied art journals (especially The Studio, founded in London in 1893, and Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, established in Darmstadt in 1897) that allowed a rapid and reciprocal exchange of design ideas across great distances. Mackintosh also met several of his Viennese admirers in 1902 at the First International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts in Turin, which led the Wiener Werkstätte’s greatest early benefactor, Fritz Waerndorfer, to commission a music room for his suburban Vienna villa from him. This otherworldly environment was completed in 1903, the year the Wiener Werkstätte opened for business. Dagobert Peche: vase, circa 1930 product prototypes in their workshop classes. The Wiener Werkstätte, in contrast, was a money pit from its inception. This has long been known, but a comprehensive account of the group’s parlous ﬁnances has never before been laid out in such disheartening detail as it is in the most important chapter of the exhibition catalog, “Economics,” by Ernst Ploil. The Wiener Werkstätte’s economic dilemma is summed up in a letter from Hoffmann to the Belgian engineer and ﬁnancier Adolphe Stoclet—patron of the architect’s masterpiece, the Palais Stoclet of 1905–1911 in Brussels: The lady [Miss Wittgenstein] wanted (for months now) two can- delabra, each two meters tall, of gilded wood. Finally the drawings were ﬁnished and correct, and a cost estimate was drawn up in my absence. That alone is madness, since it is simply impossible to produce a cost estimate for an object you haven’t yet made. . . . Fortunately, Miss Wittgenstein came and said the estimate was too high. And at that moment I already told her that we were freed of any obligation because she did not accept the estimate and that now we will not make the candelabras at any price, because we no longer make unique objects. . . . “Strange,” said Miss Wittgenstein, “and we always thought you were getting extremely rich from these commissions.” And I said to her: “You can best see just how much such commissions can enrich us (she wanted to pay eight thousand crowns [equal to more than $100,000 today] for the candelabras) from the fact that now we simply no longer accept such commissions.” Miss Wittgenstein (a sister of Ludwig’s, though it’s not clear which) was a member of a steel-manufacturing dynasty that had converted from Judaism to Protestantism and was the second richest family in Austria, after the Rothschilds. As Witt-Dörring explains in the catalog: The Werkstätte was supported by a small group of artists and primarily Jewish wealthy families that were relatives or friends or were connected by economic interests and backed the project of Vienna’s artistic springtime with their commissions. The members of the Jewish families had generally assimilated into Vienna’s Christian culture in the second generation after Austria-Hungary’s Jewish population obtained full civil rights from around 1860. Their desire to integrate ﬁt well with . . . [the] search for a modern Austrian style . . .which gained acceptance in the international market as the “Viennese style,” [and] offered the assimilated Jewish population the potential of a feeling of belonging that was not deﬁned in terms of nation. Another mainstay of the Wiener Werskstätte was the Primavesi family, descended from Italian Jewish bankers who during the eighteenth century emigrated from Lombardy to Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic but ruled by the Austrian Empire from 1809 to 1918). Hoffmann designed two large residential schemes for members of that clan. He carried out a complete interior remodeling of the baronial Primavesi Country House, near the Moravian town of Winkelsdorf (1913– 1914), for the entrepreneur and parliament member Otto Primavesi. And for Otto’s younger cousin-and-brother-inlaw, the banker and industrialist Robert Primavesi, and his wife, Joseﬁne Skywa, he created the neo- Classical Villa Skywa-Primavesi in Vienna (1913–1915), which includes a large formal garden (as does the Palais Stoclet). Otto Primavesi took over Waerndorfer’s role as commercial director of the Wiener Werkstätte in 1915, and he The New York Review and Robert became its principal underwriters after Waerndorfer’s ﬁnancial collapse. T he idealistic but impractical Waerndorfer came from another rich Jewish family, whose proﬁtable cotton mills allowed him to realize his aesthetic dreams. Yet this true believer’s unstinting support of the Wiener Werkstätte soon had disastrous economic consequences. As Witt-Dörring writes, “Waerndorfer’s absolute faith in Hoffmann’s genius oscillated between the extremes of ‘Can I afford it?’ and ‘I owe it to the world to afford it,’” but the latter attitude invariably won out. This Maecenas’s willful lack of caution eventually impoverished him; he immigrated to the US, became an artist, and during the Great Depression took up farming in a Philadelphia suburb, where he died a month before the outbreak of World War II. Appropriately for a New York audience, the Neue Galerie exhibition includes a separate gallery on Joseph Urban, the Vienna-born architect who immigrated to the US in 1911 and was instrumental in bringing the Wiener Werkstätte’s concepts to the attention of an unprecedentedly large public. Although Urban designed one of Manhattan’s early modernist gems—the crisp gray-brick and strip-windowed New School for Social Research of 1929–1931, as fresh looking now as the day it was completed—his lucrative and highly publicized career as a stage decorator for the interwar years’ quintessential Broadway extravaganza, the Ziegfeld Follies, has overshadowed his other achievements. Much less remembered today is Urban’s design work for Cosmopolitan Productions, the movie studio bankrolled by the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, in large part to advance the career of his mistress, Marion Davies, an erstwhile Ziegfeld girl. As art director on more than thirty Cosmopolitan ﬁlms and with Hearst’s lush budgets at his disposal, Urban created settings that were either directly based on Wiener Werkstätte interiors or incorporated actual pieces made by the consortium. He was particularly fond of the assertive designs of Peche, which veritably popped off the screen, including his boldly patterned white-turquoiseand-black Daphnis wallpaper, used by Urban for E. Mason Hopper’s The Great White Way (1924). And in E. H. Grifﬁth’s Unseeing Eyes (1923)—for which, as Janis Staggs writes in her superb catalog essay, “perhaps Urban overcompensated for the dreadful picture by creating one of the most luxurious interiors he ever designed”—a cameo appearance is made by Peche’s silver-gilt and coral jewel box of 1920. Fifteen inches high and topped by a sprightly three- dimensional doe munching on grapes overhead, this bizarre but endearing caprice is on loan from the Metropolitan Museum, which has always been much more openminded about collecting such oddities than the comparatively puritanical Museum of Modern Art. Urban’s commitment to the cause went even further when he decided to establish a New York showroom for the Wiener Werkstätte in order to help its artists survive during a decade when America was prospering but Austria, like its World War I ally Germany, was mired in the economic depression that followed its defeat. In 1922 he opened a shop at 581 Fifth Avenue. America had never seen anything like it, starting with the octagonal, silk-paneled reception room dominated by Gustav Klimt’s nearly six-foot-tall canvas The Dancer, with a Klimt landscape and an Egon Schiele Madonna hung elsewhere on the premises. But the same impracticalities that had dogged the Wiener Werkstätte for the two preceding decades persisted in Manhattan, where Urban perversely made it as difﬁcult as possible for anyone to actually buy anything. Even well- disposed visitors wondered whether they were in a private home or a museum rather than a store. As Urban’s daughter Gretl reminisced years later, “It was funny to see father upset when one of his favorite pieces was being looked at by a potential purchaser.” No wonder the store lasted less than two years. Most of the pieces offered at a landmark show held in 1966 at New York’s Galerie St. Etienne—the ﬁrst exhibition of Wiener Werkstätte designs in the United States since the Fifth Avenue outpost closed more than four decades earlier—came from the Urban family’s considerable stock of unsold merchandise. 3. Interest in the nearly forgotten Wiener Werkstätte grew during the 1960s as part of a widespread Art Nouveau revival. But whereas the more psychedelic aspects of Art Nouveau that so captivated the Sixties counterculture were soon deemed passé, the work of the ﬁn- de-siècle Viennese avant-garde became even more highly prized during the 1980s with the rise of Postmodernism. The proponents of that neotraditional style were eager for a return to pattern and ornament, which had been anathema during the half- century ascendance of the International Style, and they felt a strong kinship with the Wiener Werkstätte’s suave melding of Classical and early modernist elements. Among the younger American architects most beguiled by Hoffmann and his coterie were Richard Meier (who during the 1970s began to collect turn- of-the- century Austrian design objects) and Charles Gwathmey. Both of them created china and metalwork, much of it based on the Wiener Werkstätte’s familiar quadratic motifs, for the Swid Powell company, which during the 1980s catered to the new vogue for objects designed by celebrated architects. But the Postmodernist most taken with Hoffmann was Michael Graves, who eagerly turned out furniture, products, and interior designs for numerous clients and modeled his practice after that of the multitalented Viennese master in an attempt to broaden the writ of the architect. Being able to control all aspects of a large commission had immense appeal for those who, after the interchangeable-parts ethos of postwar modernism, wanted to achieve New and Notable “This is a triumph, a worthy successor to Peter Green’s outstanding translation of The Iliad. No version known to me is better at conveying the feeling of the original.” —Christopher Pelling, Oxford University The Odyssey is vividly captured and beautifully paced in this swift and lucid new translation by acclaimed scholar and translator Peter Green. Also Available “Taken as a whole this is the best line-forline translation of the poem I know.” AVAILABLE MARCH 2018 —London Review of Books TO LEARN MORE: WWW.UCPRESS.EDU January 18, 2018 11 “Wolff’s magnum opus is a highly timely book, for it contains a trove of interesting material that is highly germane to a political moment when the issue of wealth inequality is on everyone’s lips.” —Gregory Clark, Wall Street Journal “A remarkably easy and valuable read ... Anyone trying to understand the rise of Donald Trump would be well advised to study Wolff closely.” —Duncan Weldon, Prospect Belknap Press | $39.95 After Ireland Writing the Nation from Beckett to the Present Declan Kiberd +A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year “It is wonderfully written, jargon-free, witty and exuberantly engaging. What makes Kiberd a great critic is his disdain for barriers—between Irish and English, between literary forms, between works and their historical moments. He is as superb on Máire Mhac an tSaoi and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill as he is on Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon.” —Fintan O’Toole, Financial Times $39.95 Numbers and the Making of Us Counting and the Course of Human Cultures Caleb Everett +A Smithsonian Best Science Book of the Year “Numbers is eye-opening, even eye-popping. And it makes a powerful case for language, as a cultural invention, being central to the making of us.” —Vyvyan Evans, New Scientist “A fascinating book.” —James Ryerson, New York Times Book Review $27.95 A Cold Welcome The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America Sam White “[White] tells strange and surprising tales of drought ... famine, bitterly cold winters, If you look at it very carefully you see a rhythm, you see a pattern, you see what we call push-pull between negative and positive. So that was very inspirational to Rafael Viñoly and I. In fact, the extremely attenuated proportions of 432 Park—the world’s highest residential structure—make it more closely resemble Hoffmann’s white-painted metal vases, tall but narrow, which employ the same Gitterwerk (latticework) technique. (This design and its numerous variants became one of the Wiener Werkstätte’s most notable commercial successes.) But because a $225 reproduction of Hoffmann’s trashcan is on sale in the Neue Galerie’s gift shop, few commentators could resist citing it as a source for the $1.3 billion skyscraper. All the same, the transmogriﬁcation of an object devised for one purpose but grossly altered both in scale (whether bigger or smaller) and function meets the textbook deﬁnition of kitsch, even if its aesthetic is minimalist rather than naturalistic.* desperation, and death ... He weaves an intricate, complex tapestry as he examines the effects both of climate ... and of weather.” —Susan Dunn, New York Review of Books *See my “New York: Conspicuous Construction,” The New York Review, April 2, 2015. MAK , Vienna/Katrin Wisskirchen Edward N. Wolff Further evidence of the Wiener Werkstätte’s obsessive perfectionism but hopeless business model can be found in another Gitterwerk piece now on display at the Neue Galerie. At ﬁrst glance, Moser’s silver breadbasket of 1904 would seem to be identical to Hoffmann’s better-known essays in pierced metalwork. Yet instead of hewing to either a ﬂat or an evenly rounded surface like most of Hoffmann’s gridded metal objects, the approximately oval Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel: wallpaper sample, Urwald, 1912 Hulya Kolabas, New York A Century of Wealth in America a cohesive look that would express a more grounded sense of place and be distinctively different from prevalent taste. Graves envisioned a return to the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) as sought by many artists around the turn of twentieth century, including Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest American exponent of that concept, whose uniﬁed approach to all details of a scheme perpetually resonates with the public. But Graves soon faced the same dilemma that thwarted his many predecessors in the design reform movements: luxury objects, no matter how high the retail markup, are unlikely ever to be as proﬁtable as plentiful machine-made goods. Graves ultimately concentrated on moderately priced consumer items (for Alessi, Target, and other household product companies), while his architecture came to resemble super-sized kitchen gadgets. He got rich on royalties from his bird-topped Alessi teakettle (1.5 million units sold), but grew increasingly embittered as he dropped off the radar of the architectural press. Though he blamed his shift of critical fortune on a prejudice against those who don’t focus primarily on buildings, many thought the fault lay in the quality of his work rather than the genres he pursued. Another distant echo of the Wiener Werkstätte now spikes the skyline of midtown Manhattan. The real estate mogul Harry Macklowe, developer of Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue condominium tower of 2011–2015, revealed that while the building was under construction, a white-painted gridded-metal wastepaper basket created by Hoffmann in 1905 served as an “important touchstone” for the design. As Macklowe explained: Koloman Moser: bread basket, 1904 bread basket—ten-and-a-half inches long by two-and-a-half inches high— swells outward in ﬁve symmetrical pairs of curving segments, like the ground plan of a Bavarian Rococo pilgrimage chapel, and is a reminder of the playful eighteenth- century inﬂuences that lay beneath so much of the Wiener Werkstätte’s output, even early on. However, when you look more closely at Moser’s apparently identical perforations you begin to realize that although every square seems to be equal, each turns out to be very slightly calibrated to compensate for the billowing curvature. This sleight of hand conveys an impression of uniformity that would not exist without exacting and costly attention to detail. Moser’s almost imperceptible and uneconomical deception—like so much else in the Neue Galerie’s dazzling treasure chest—helps explain why the grand illusion of the Wiener Werkstätte continues to enchant us a century after its frenetic heyday. $29.95 WILLIAM H. GASS (1924–2017) HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS 12 www.hup.harvard.edu tel: 800.405.1619 We mourn the death of William H. Gass, a long-standing contributor and friend. The New York Review The Nuclear Worrier The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg. Bloomsbury, 420 pp. $30.00 Daniel Ellsberg in his youth and Daniel Ellsberg in his age are the same man—a born worrier quick to spot trouble, take alarm, and issue warning. He is best known for worrying about the American war in Vietnam, which time in the war zone convinced him was a crime, and for doing what he could to bring it to an end. In that case he copied and illegally released a huge collection of secret documents about the war, ﬁrst published in June 1971 by The New York Times, which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. But Vietnam was not the ﬁrst or the biggest thing that worried Ellsberg after he went to work in his late twenties as an analyst for the RAND Corporation in 1959. His ﬁrst and biggest worry was the American effort to defend itself with nuclear weapons. When Ellsberg ﬁnally got a look at the plans for such a war he realized immediately that the Strategic Air Command had built a military instrument that not only could but in his view probably would break the back of human civilization. It was Vietnam that got in the way of his plan to do something about the nuclear war plans. In his new memoir, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, the second about the big things that obsessed Ellsberg in his youth,1 he does not try to explain why he set aside worry about the bomb to tackle America’s hopeless war in Southeast Asia, then in its sixth year. The probable answer is that he had gone to see it. Arguing about nuclear weapons with other supersmart young analysts and Air Force colonels was dismaying but not horrifying in the way of war itself. In Vietnam hundreds of Americans and thousands of Vietnamese were dying every month, and sometimes every week, with no end in sight. The commitment of American policymakers to go on killing peasants rather than confess failure was the crime that Ellsberg felt impelled to expose and denounce. B ut he never stopped worrying about nuclear weapons. He was far from alone, of course. The horror of the bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was immediately apparent to all who did not refuse to see. What separated Ellsberg from ordinary civilian worriers was his access to the actual war plans for doing it again. By the time he received his ﬁrst clearances to know ofﬁcial secrets about types and numbers of weapons, the handful of ﬁrst-generation bombs, assembled one by one by hand at Los Alamos, New Mexico, had been replaced by more and better devices. Fat Man, the ﬁssion bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, was blimplike in shape, weighed about 10,000 pounds, and ex- 1 The ﬁrst was Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (Viking, 2002). January 18, 2018 Siegfried Woldhek Thomas Powers Daniel Ellsberg ploded with the energy of 20,000 tons of TNT. By the late 1950s the ﬁrst few ﬁssion bombs had been replaced by ever- expanding numbers (soon to be thousands) of thermonuclear fusion weapons, small enough to ﬁt in the nose cone of a missile or under a jet ﬁghter, and roughly a thousand times more powerful than Fat Man. RAND did many studies for the Pentagon on the best way to defend America with these superweapons, and the best way to ﬁght a war with them. Ellsberg’s initiation into the secrets did not happen in a day, and it took him awhile to realize that there were many levels of clearances, each more secret, more tightly held, and shared with fewer people than the last. Beyond Top Secret, the highest clearance known to exist by the general public, were the code-word clearances for what is now called “sensitive compartmented information.” These permitted an individual to know certain speciﬁc secrets, like the fact that the United States had developed tools—spy planes and reconnaissance satellites—to photograph the Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could carry thermonuclear warheads. The number of Soviet missiles was not the one hundred argued by Air Force alarmists in the Pentagon or the ﬁfty claimed in a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in June 1961. In September of that year Ellsberg learned that the United States would not ﬁnd it hard to destroy the Soviet missile force. Only four ICBMs were ready to go and they were all at the missile-testing site in Plesetsk, about ﬁve hundred miles north of Moscow and a hundred miles south of the White Sea. The four missiles were liquid-fueled and took a long time to prepare for launch. They were standing up in the open and were close enough together to get all four with a single nearby hit. To know this you had to have code-word clearances for Talent and Keyhole, the systems of overhead reconnaissance that ﬁlmed the vulnerable Soviet missile force. There is a widespread belief, Ellsberg writes, that “everything leaks; it all comes out in the New York Times.” That, he says, “is emphatically not true.” Even analysts at the heart of the secret world are not cleared for many categories of secret information and are not cleared to know that they are not cleared. While Ellsberg was being initiated into these secrets he did not know that his own father had once enjoyed an early version of a code-word clearance, a “Q” clearance that protected the secret work on fusion weapons in the years after World War II. Ellsberg’s father told him this in 1978, when he also confessed that he had resigned in 1949 from a bomb-related engineering job—“the best job he’d ever had,” Ellsberg writes—because he wanted no part in building anything a thousand times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Ellsberg was astonished. Why had he never known about this? “Oh, I couldn’t tell any of this to my family,” answered the senior Ellsberg. “You weren’t cleared.” The Doomsday Machine addresses three subjects. The ﬁrst is the history of Ellsberg’s work at RAND on nuclear war planning just before and during the Kennedy administration, when he discovered what Air Force General Curtis LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command, had planned and prepared by 1960 to do to the Sino- Soviet bloc in the event of war. The second is how city- destroying attacks became the air strategy of choice during World War II, with the effect of gradually resigning airmen to the efﬁciency of nuclear weapons, one of which could do what it had taken three hundred B-29 bombers over Japan to do using conventional bombs. The third is how to end the dependence of so many nations on nuclear weapons before a spark creates a conﬂagration that incinerates the world. Ellsberg writes briskly in the service of opinions formed by long and sober study. What he means is never in doubt and it is always interesting. But even so it is the ﬁrst and longest section of his new book that makes the greatest contribution. Many able historians of planning for nuclear war—Gregg Herken and Fred Kaplan thirty years ago, Ron Rosenbaum and Eric Schlosser more recently2 —have set the scene for Ellsberg’s narrative, but he adds numerous revealing stories of important ﬁgures at the time while providing what is probably the best ﬁrst-person account of what nuclear war planning was actually like. It was intellectually exciting, but at the same time it fed a sense of dread. Catastrophe did not require a monster running things, just a moment of headto-head dispute about something hard to give up, a couple of wrong guesses, or a run of bad luck. Nuclear weapons, as Ellsberg describes them, are like the pistol in the bedside drawer of a man subject to wild mood swings—too close to hand in moments of fear or despair. Ellsberg loved the intellectual energy of RAND, where men like the “enormously fat” Herman Kahn, author of On Thermonuclear War and Thinking About the Unthinkable, never softened their opinions. When Ellsberg at his very ﬁrst group discussion in the summer of 1958 hazarded a thought, Kahn shot back, “You’re absolutely wrong.” Ellsberg didn’t mind; he welcomed the “gloves- off” debate. But thinking it all over in the sixty years since, he has concluded that if security were really their goal, they were all wrong just about all of the time. The problem was not so much the terrible power of nuclear weapons, but what the Air Force planned to do with them. The principal author of the Strategic Air Command’s 1960 plan was LeMay, the cigar- chomping former commander of the American bomber ﬂeet that had aimed to destroy Japan’s will to ﬁght in 1945, one burned city at a time. LeMay’s strategy for preserving the peace was to threaten war so terrible that no 2 See Fred Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon (Simon and Schuster, 1983); Gregg Herken, Counsels of War (Knopf, 1985); Ron Rosenbaum, How the End Begins (Simon and Schuster, 2011); and Eric Schlosser, Command and Control (Penguin, 2013). 13 T he sudden and utter destruction of the Soviet Union was the goal of LeMay’s strategic thinking. The SAC’s actual plan never included one bomb big enough to destroy all of Russia, but it promised the same result with many, many bombs. When Ellsberg started to work at RAND the immensely complicated and seldom- changed American plan for nuclear war was spelled out in Annex C of a document called the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP, pronounced Jay- SCAP). Annex C was very closely held by planners and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so closely that not even the secretary of defense or civilians in his ofﬁce were ever shown or informed about the plan or told even the name of the document by order of the Joint Chiefs. That was still the case when the Kennedy administration arrived in 1961. None of them had ever heard of the JSCP, Annex C, or its recent successor, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP, pronounced Sy- OP). The reasons for this secrecy had to do with service rivalries, technical complexities in executing the plan, and the personality of LeMay, who had made up his mind that he would know and decide when a nuclear attack on Russia was necessary, and what ought to be on the target list. Freedom from meddling was what LeMay wanted, and the Joint Chiefs had helped him to get and keep it. Ellsberg began to pierce the veil of secrecy while working on a study of war preparations in the Paciﬁc. The plan he discovered was basically the Strategic Air Command’s plan, which was essentially LeMay’s. Herman Kahn’s term for it was “wargasm.” As drawn up by LeMay’s team the ﬁrst SIOP called for nuclear strikes on just about every city in Russia and in China. Why China, too, if the war was with Russia? The answer, stripped to plain language, had nothing to do with politics: one plan was all the planners could handle at a time. The ﬁrst SIOP in December 1960 planned an overwhelming knockout blow. Moscow alone was targeted with at least eighty nuclear weapons, and every Russian city with a population greater than 25,000 would be hit by at least one. China would get the same, 14 for no particular reason. Ellsberg was started to read The Doomsday Maand why he had failed to see it at the surprised to discover that the planners chine I was struck immediately by the time. had not been afraid to add up the probsense that I had heard his stories before able number of dead. Over the ﬁrst six and hunted up my old notes. Page after he ﬁrst day of the Cuban Missile months following the initial strike they page might have come almost verbatim Crisis caught Ellsberg by surprise, just estimated that about half the populafrom his new book. as it did almost everybody else. What tion of Russia and China would die Ellsberg’s compulsion to share what alarmed him most was President Kenof radiation effects alone—a total of he knew was rare in my experience. I nedy’s threat to respond to any launch about 380 million people. Three things had encountered something like it only of a missile from Cuba on any country about this plan convinced Ellsberg to once before, in 1984 with Ellsberg’s in North or South America with “a do what he could to stop it: its magnifriend Sam Cohen. Both men had quit full retaliatory response on the Soviet tude, its all- or-nothing character, and worrying about the rules of secrecy Union.” Ellsberg knew what was in the the fact that General LeMay had rebut for different reasons. Cohen was SIOP. “I wondered if the speechwriter served to himself the power to decide compelled to break his silence by the had any idea what he was saying,” he when to order the attack. stupidity of American war plans, which writes. Scores of millions would die in Some readers may draw up at this offended his intelligence. He wanted a day, hundreds of millions within six point and wonder whether these horto stop people from talking nonsense. months or a year. Ellsrors were really true. The berg called up his friend answer is that they were, Harry Rowen in the as the reader may learn Pentagon, ﬂew to Washfrom the stout books by ington the next day from Kaplan, Herken, RosenCalifornia, and joined baum, and Schlosser. the analysts and ofﬁcials Ellsberg was not the only trying to think their way analyst absorbed in this through the challenge struggle, but he was in raised by Nikita Khruthe thick of it. The heart shchev’s secret move to of his plan, he writes, base thirty- eight Soviet was “moving a few pieces missiles in Cuba. What of paper from one level follows is Ellsberg’s rich of authority to a higher personal account of the one”—that is, from the crisis, including many level of the Joint Chiefs new details, to join the of Staff, where everybody others already published. agreed that the LeMay The big new thing in approach was ﬁne, up to Ellsberg’s book, the imthe level of the president portant contribution he and the secretary of demakes to our thinking fense, who had been kept on the danger that never out of the loop for ﬁfteen goes away, began with a years. Ellsberg believed conversation with Rowen that Kennedy and Secreabout odds: What had tary of Defense Robert been the real chance McNamara would be horthat we would go to war riﬁed by the details and in 1962? In the ﬁrst few would insist on changdays of the crisis Ellsberg ing the plan, and he was had convinced himself right. that the chance was really The story of that effort quite small. Khrushchev, is the meat of the ﬁrst half in Ellsberg’s view, was in of his book. What was at a box—if push came to stake was succinctly capshove in the Caribbean tured without exaggeraDaniel Ellsberg when he was a lieutenant in the Marines, 1954 he couldn’t win, and if tion in the title of another he chose to ﬁght anyway book published twenty Ellsberg was driven instead by moral Russia would be reduced to a vestigial years later, when things had reached horror; what we planned to do struck state. a still more desperate state, by the him as just inexcusably wrong. In 1986 Ellsberg had been arguing about this writer Jonathan Schell—The Fate of he was on ﬁre to warn the world. I was with Rowen and Herman Kahn and the Earth. writing often about nuclear weapons at many others for two years, and the logic that time and Ellsberg devoted eight or was clear—you can’t use nuclear weapgot China off the automatic tarten hours to making sure I knew the ons if your victim can come back at you, get list” was the very ﬁrst thing Daniel worst. There was nothing scattershot or which the United States was prepared to Ellsberg told me in March 1986 when erratic about his message; it poured out do to the Soviet Union in overwhelming we met at a conference of antinuke in crisp paragraphs with dates and full fashion. Khrushchev was facing somegroups in San Francisco. That was not names and a clear narrative structure. thing like a desperation move in chess; the absolute worst moment of East– Ellsberg told me that he was trying to he could push that last piece out there West nuclear tension, but it was close. put it all into a book but something was but the American response would be In 1986 the Russians and the Ameriblocking him; with a ready listener like check and mate. So Khrushchev had to cans had thousands of weapons tarme he could talk forever, but as soon as back down, in Ellsberg’s view. Rowen geted on each other, ﬁring procedures he sat down in front of a typewriter, the thought the same thing, and so did the on both sides were on hair-trigger stawords froze. Joint Chiefs and Paul Nitze, one of the tus, and neither side really knew how to Eventually (it took thirty years) he principals on the Executive Committee stop an “exchange” once it began. On cleared the jam by dividing his story making the decisions. “At thirty- one,” more than one occasion in those years and writing two books, Secrets: A Ellsberg writes, “I was overconﬁdent (and since), war was brought suddenly Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon that a leader who was outgunned would close by improbable things like radar Papers and now at last, in his eightyback down under threat.” bouncing off a ﬂock of geese or the risseventh year, The Doomsday MaIn fact, that’s the way it worked ing moon, which both mimicked a mischine. Everything that alarmed and out. Khrushchev backed down. When sile attack. horriﬁed him back in 1986 is in the things were still tense Rowen had reWhen I met Ellsberg he had already new book, but something important marked that he thought the Executive been thinking about these dangers for has been added. During the intervenCommittee, which included the presitwenty-ﬁve years. From the conference ing years while Ellsberg struggled, he dent and his top advisers, had been our conversation moved to his house read widely, talked to people, went putting the chance of war too high— in the Berkeley Hills, where he talked back over everything in his own mind, maybe even ten times too high—not nonstop about nuclear war planning and took his story a big step further. one in a thousand (Rowen’s estimate) until the sky turned light. Two days What changed was his slow realization but one in a hundred. Then a day after later he did the same again. When I of how close we came in October 1962, the crisis ended Rowen told Ellsberg he T DOD /Life Picture Collection/Getty Images Soviet leader would ever risk it. How terrible? An answer was given to Ellsberg by a RAND friend, the physicist Sam Cohen, who had been one of the youngest of the bomb-makers who worked on Fat Man, and Little Boy, which destroyed Hiroshima. Later Cohen invented the neutron bomb, which he believed might help save us from big bombs because it would make little ones safer to use. Ellsberg thought Cohen was dead wrong on that point but they were friends anyway. Cohen told Ellsberg that in the early 1950s he had been part of a planning group sent by General Bernie Schriever to ask General LeMay about nuclear force requirements, starting with the question of how big was the biggest bomb he wanted. LeMay’s answer: “One bomb, for Russia.” He meant one bomb for all of Russia. There were two problems with LeMay’s approach—it ignored the fact that war often comes unwanted and unexpectedly, and it offered no clear guidance for knowing when the moment for the one bomb had arrived. “I The New York Review had been way off. Nitze had conﬁded to Rowen that he had been guessing the chance of war at “one in ten,” and he was the optimist on the committee— other members thought the chance was even higher than that. Ellsberg’s ﬁrst reaction was “puzzlement.” Nitze knew the facts and he understood the logic of nuclear confrontation. War couldn’t possibly make sense in Khrushchev’s position. But then Ellsberg’s eyes opened to the thing that has obsessed him ever since: the Executive Committee had chosen a course of action that they believed risked a one in ten chance of a nuclear war that would kill hundreds of millions of people. T his point is the crux of The Doomsday Machine, what Ellsberg contributes to our understanding of the danger we continue to face: the knowledge that decent men of courage and intelligence with a personal horror of war were prepared to run a one-in-ten chance of killing hundreds of millions of people—to avoid what? “I’ll be quite frank,” the secretary of defense told President Kennedy at a meeting of the Executive Committee early in the crisis. “I don’t think there is a military problem. . . . This is a domestic political problem.” What McNamara meant was that Soviet missiles in Cuba might look bad but did not really change the military balance—might look so bad, he did not have to say, that Kennedy might even lose the next election. The meaning of that fact has grown in Ellsberg’s mind over the decades since 1962. What hope in the long term could there be if presidents or other national leaders were willing to run a one-in-ten chance of killing hundreds of millions of people just to help win the next election? That deﬁed all the logic that Ellsberg and the rest of the RAND analysts had been counting on to protect the fate of the earth. Over the last ﬁfty years new information has emphasized the real gravity of the confrontation between the US and the USSR. The problem wasn’t in the logic, but in the mammoth military organizations that began to stir at the outset of the crisis. Unplanned events began to happen that could have triggered catastrophe, like the shooting down of an American reconnaissance plane over Cuba. When that happened a furious Robert Kennedy called in the Soviet ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin, and threatened to attack Cuba right away if they tried it again. Bobby thought Khrushchev had ordered the shootdown to crank up the pressure, but he was wrong; it was Castro and the Cubans who did it on their own. Another thing Bobby and the Executive Committee didn’t know was how the Soviets in Cuba would respond to the attack the US planned if the missiles weren’t moved. They didn’t know that the Soviets had a military force of 42,000 men in Cuba, not the 7,000 estimated by American intelligence. Nor did they know that the Soviet force had been supplied with more than a hundred tactical nuclear weapons. And they did not know that local Soviet commanders in Cuba had authority to use those weapons to halt an invasion. Some commander of a Cuban antiaircraft unit might have shot at another American reconnaissance plane; the US might have gone ahead with its planned invasion; and a Soviet commander might have used a tactical nuclear weapon to attack American ships drawing close. “And where would it have ended?” asked McNamara when he learned for the ﬁrst time in 1992 that Russian soldiers had been cleared to use nuclear weapons. “In utter disaster.” But it was not only Soviet ground troops that had nuclear weapons. Soviet submarines in the Caribbean were also armed with “a special weapon”—nuclear torpedoes. On two occasions Soviet submarine commanders believed they were under attack by American surface ships that were trying to force them to surface. The Americans were “signaling” the submarines by bombarding them with “practice” depth charges, not real depth charges, but the Soviet sub commanders did not know these were practice explosives. They believed the Americans were attacking in earnest, their subs were running out of air, and on the second occasion the commander felt he had only two choices—surface and surrender or use the special weapon, and he did not dismiss the second possibility out of hand. The consequences of that are almost unimaginable, but not quite. E llsberg has a great deal else to say about nuclear weapons in The Doomsday Machine, but he avoids the easy and the obvious, which means there are few mentions of the overheated posturing of Kim Jong-un and Donald J. Trump, who before his inaugura- tion tweeted that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” During a meeting last summer of national security ofﬁcials, he reportedly called for a tenfold increase in the number of American nuclear weapons. It is not fear of the wrong ﬁnger on the red button that makes Ellsberg tremble, but the weapons themselves. Rousing the comfortable is never easy, but Ellsberg is a vigorous writer with a gift for dramatic tension and the unfolding of events as they cascade toward disaster. His story wakes old concerns. We worried about nukes for decades, but then the Soviet Union collapsed and the cold war ended. Now we have grown used to thinking that the danger is fainter, not the planet-busting wargasm once planned by General LeMay when both nations were armed and wired to shoot off everything in a day. Ellsberg says the danger persists as long as the weapons are there. The great achievement of his new book is to make clear what was hidden ﬁfty years ago—that Khrushchev’s decision to move missiles into Cuba, and Kennedy’s decision to stop him, threatened a war that neither man wanted. The crystal logic prized by analysts, the faith in reason that allowed us to think the unthinkable, evaporated under the pressure of events. We came this close. This is not a young man’s argument, assured and conﬁdent. It is an old man’s warning, the fruit of long reﬂection and tinged with sorrow, as clear as he can make it: these weapons are too dangerous to have because they are too dangerous to use. Digitalization promises to reshape fiscal policy… AD LO E WN BL DO L A EE AI F R AV “A fascinating assessment of the next frontier–digital everything, applied to government finances....It is greatly encouraging that the IMF is paying attention to these developments. “ —Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management “ An engaging read that is relevant to all who are keen to discover and study the possibilities that digitalization and data brings to governments and people, across the world. “ —Nandan Nilekani, Founding Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (Aadhaar) $25. English. ©2017. Approx. 263pp. Paperback ISBN 978-1-48431-522-4. Stock#DRPFEA Support for this book and the conference on which it is based was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Free download available at bookstore.imf.org/drpf January 18, 2018 15 Classical Cancan Adam Kirsch Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture by Laurence Senelick. Cambridge University Press, 354 pp., $120.00 The Real “Tales of Hoffmann”: Origin, History, and Restoration of an Operatic Masterpiece by Vincent Giroud and Michael Kaye, with a foreword by Plácido Domingo. Rowman and Littleﬁeld, 563 pp., $130.00; $75.00 (paper) sical myth, turning Orpheus and Eurydice from symbols of deathless love into a pair of quarreling, adulterous spouses. Offenbach, who delighted in musical parody, impudently quoted the aria “Che farò senza Euridice?” from Gluck’s version, sticking out his tongue at its sublimity. The show’s popularity was ensured when an indignant music critic, Jules Janin, lambasted it in print as a “profanation of holy and glorious antiquity.” It was as if Janin was auditioning for the role of Public Opinion, who serves to drop his objection after hearing the boy play just half a page of music. As it turned out, however, it was the teenage Offenbach, now going by Jacques, who rejected the Conservatoire. After a year he dropped out, preferring to earn a living as an orchestra player for the Opéra- Comique, one of the city’s leading theaters. To understand why, one only has to look at the memoirs of Hector Berlioz, who had been a student at the Conservatoire a By the time he died in 1880 at the age of sixty- one, Jacques Offenbach had composed more than one hundred works of musical theater, from twocharacter sketches to full-scale operas. Yet today, in the United States at any rate, his reputation rests primarily on just one piece, his very last—Les contes d’Hoffmann. Hoffmann is a staple of the operatic repertoire and has been recorded many times, while the works that made Offenbach world-famous in his lifetime—comic operettas like La belle Hélène, Orphée aux Enfers, and La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein— are known only to devotees. And even they represent just the peaks of Offenbach’s immense output; there must be many hours of his music that no one alive today has ever heard. This bifurcation of Offenbach’s achievement, into Hoffmann and everything else, makes it hard to appreciate his real signiﬁcance—not just as a composer but as a major ﬁgure in the history of popular culture. For Hoffmann is, both musically and thematically, unrepresentative of his work. It is an intellectual, poetic, and melancholy creation, the story of a poet’s disillusionment in love. But if you asked a Parisian theatergoer in the 1860s what was unique about the shows known as offenbachiades, he would have named quite different qualities. They were comic, knowing, exciting; they lampooned everything respectable, from classical mythology to military glory to the sanctity of marriage; they featured actresses baring their legs and shoulders as they danced the cancan. The contrast can be captured in the two tunes of Offenbach’s that are best known today: the Barcarolle from Hoffmann, with its swaying langour, and the galop infernal (often referred to as Offenbach’s cancan), with its mad propulsion. The moral insouciance of Offenbach’s stage works was crucial to their appeal from the beginning. His ﬁrst hit was a sketch called “The Two Blind Men,” which featured a pair of beggars who fake blindness and quarrel over prime begging spots. Several of Offenbach’s collaborators urged him not to stage the piece, on the grounds that it was in bad taste to mock the poor; but he was vindicated when it drew cheers and laughter. He pushed the envelope further with Orphée, which became a worldwide sensation by spooﬁng clas16 Bibliothèque de l’Opéra Garnier, Paris/Bridgeman Images Les contes d’Hoffmann an opera by Jacques Offenbach, directed by Bartlett Sher, at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, September 26–October 28, 2017 Jacques Offenbach; engraving by André Gill from the cover of La Lune, 1866 as the moralistic chorus in Orphée. (It is Public Opinion who compels Orpheus to try to rescue Eurydice from Hades, even though he is quite glad to be rid of her.) That kind of ofﬁcious high-mindedness was the butt of Offenbach’s music, and of the witty libretto by his frequent collaborator Ludovic Halévy. Offenbach, knowing the publicity value of a scandal, replied gleefully in the pages of Le Figaro: “Bravo Janin! Thanks Janin, good old Janin, excellent Janin, the best of friends, Janin, the greatest of critics!” By then, Offenbach was already one of the best-known ﬁgures in Paris, his face—long nose, bald head, benevolent smile—made familiar by caricaturists. It was an improbable fate for a man born to a poor, obscure family of German Jews, and a sign of how powerful a solvent of social boundaries fame had become in the nineteenth century. The composer’s father, Isaac Eberst, had been a cantor, itinerant singer, and violinist who eventually settled in Cologne, where he adopted the name of his hometown, Offenbach am Main. His son Jakob was born in 1819, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars that brought Jewish emancipation to Germany. The doors now stood open to a much wider world, and when Jakob proved to be a prodigy on the cello, his father seized the opportunity, bringing him to Paris to audition for the Conservatoire in 1833. Family legend had it that the director, Luigi Cherubini, initially turned young Jakob away on the grounds that he was not French, only few years earlier. Berlioz depicts his own ﬁrst run-in with Cherubini, who chased him out of the library for using it without authorization. It was a foretaste of things to come. The Conservatoire was a hidebound, hierarchical institution, more concerned with musical politics than musical progress, and it drove the young Berlioz wild with impatience. Perhaps Offenbach had the same reaction, or perhaps he simply realized early on that the theater, not the academy, was his native element. His dream was to see one of his works staged at the prestigious Opéra- Comique. But while his career as a cello virtuoso took off, and he had the opportunity to tour Europe and play for crowned heads, he could not budge the theater’s management. It was not until 1855 that Offenbach the composer got his big break. This was the year of the Exposition Universelle, with which Napoleon III aimed to outdo the famous Great Exhibition that had brought so many tourists to London four years earlier. Knowing that Paris would be ﬂooded with visitors, Offenbach used his government connections to obtain the lease on a small, unused theater on the ChampsElysées. At the time, the law strictly regulated what kind of work could be performed at each Paris theater, and the license for Théâtre des BouffesParisiens, as Offenbach’s house was named, speciﬁed that it could feature no more than four characters on stage. Yet within this limitation, Offenbach’s comic genius ﬂourished. “In an opera which lasts only three- quarters of an hour . . . and [in which] an orchestra of at most thirty persons is employed, one must have ideas and tunes that are as genuine as hard cash,” he observed. Instead of the pompous, overstuffed pageants that played at the Opéra, the Bouffes would give people what they actually wanted—entertainment. “The Two Blind Men” premiered on the opening night, soon to be followed by Ba- ta- clan, a farce set in China. (The title, which was meant to sound Chinese, was popular enough for a Parisian theater to be named after it; the Bataclan became known around the world in 2015, when terrorists killed eighty-nine people at a rock concert there.) The Bouffes became one of the city’s most popular theaters, and Offenbach was dubbed—by no less an authority than Rossini—“the Mozart of the Champs-Elysées.” By 1858, Offenbach was permitted to put on shows with bigger casts, and he seized the chance with Orphée aux Enfers, his ﬁrst full-scale operetta. The next decade was the peak of his success. His great operettas followed in quick succession: La belle Hélène, another Greek travesty, this time of Helen of Troy; Barbe- bleue, a retelling of the Bluebeard legend; La GrandeDuchesse de Gérolstein, set at a ﬁctional German court, which was seen by just about every royal visitor to the 1867 Paris Exposition. Indeed, one of the remarkable things about Offenbach’s shows is that, for all their burlesque of gods, kings, and generals, the powerful found them highly congenial. In his inﬂuential book about Offenbach, Orpheus in Paris (1937), the German cultural critic Siegfried Kracauer argued that in the France of the Second Empire, theater became a cultural power because power itself was just a variety of theater. Napoleon III was a play- emperor who maintained his grip on power with a series of showy adventures abroad and grands projets at home. No wonder he admired Offenbach and showered him with signs of favor, including making him a French citizen and awarding him the Légion d’honneur. Indeed, the overlap between theater and government was sometimes even clearer: Offenbach’s favorite librettist, Halévy, held a senior position in the civil service. Halévy’s boss, the Duc de Morny, who was Napoleon III’s half-brother, served as foreign minister but wrote plays in his spare time. If our own era is characterized by the intersection of politics and celebrity—when a reality TV personality can be elected president of the United States—we are following in the footsteps of the Second Empire. F or Offenbach’s critics, by the same token, his music stood as a symbol of everything they detested in the public culture of their time—the ﬂash, the decadence, the frivolity. Kracauer saw Offenbach as an ambivalent ﬁgure whose music hastened the very social decay it embodied. In a dialectical fashion, Offenbach was a progressive because he exposed the Second Empire’s reactionary corruption for what it really was: he “had done more than The New York Review anyone else to destroy the Empire from within,” Kracauer wrote. (In its deft Marxist analysis of Paris as the capital of the nineteenth century, Orpheus in Paris is the book that Walter Benjamin hoped his Arcades Project would be.) Of course, it was not lost on Offenbach’s enemies that this agent of corruption was Jewish. (By birth, at any rate: he converted to Catholicism at the age of twenty-ﬁve, in order to appease his wife’s family, and was generally irreligious.) As Laurence Senelick shows in Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture, his comprehensive study of Offenbach’s reception around the world, the composer’s Jewishness was always close to hand as a hostile explanation for his irreverence. When La belle Hélène was performed in Berlin in 1875, a local newspaper described it as a “Jewish speculation on the spirit of modern society [that] caricatures whatever is regarded as sublime and sacred in family life.” In the same spirit, Édouard Drumont, one of the leading French anti- Semites during the Dreyfus Affair, railed against the “obscene innuendo, the lecherous rhythms” of Offenbach’s music. In these attacks, Offenbach’s Jewishness is made to serve as a shorthand for corrosive modernity and the vulgarization of mass culture. In the twentieth century, Tin Pan Alley and rock and roll would face similar attacks; and as with those genres, it was precisely the democratic, irreverent, liberating energy of Offenbach’s music that made it so popular. Because listeners in the English-speaking world tend to associate operetta with Gilbert and Sullivan, it can be hard for us to appreciate just how transgressive the genre originally was. For Gilbert and Sullivan, knowing English taste and Victorian prudery, deliberately excised the qualities that made Offenbach so original—the overt sexuality, the rhythmic agitation. To his ﬁrst listeners, Offenbach captured the thrill of being modern: “La belle Hélène is the present, our society, it is us, our beliefs and our tastes and our gaiety and our spirit of analysis which knows not parents nor friends nor tradition,” wrote a Parisian journalist in 1864. The year before, in his essay “The Painter of Modern Life,” Baudelaire had declared that beauty is a compound of the ideal and eternal with the ephemerally modern, which he called “the amusing, enticing, appetizing icing on the divine cake.” Offenbach was the musical equivalent of that icing—not nourishing, perhaps, but undeniably delicious. Indeed, many qualities of his work—its abundance and novelty, its catchy melodies and exciting rhythms that people loved to sing and dance to—bring it close to today’s studiogenerated pop hits. If he were alive today, he would probably not be a classical musician but a music producer. Because Offenbach was so closely associated with the Second Empire, the fall of Napoleon III in 1870 marked a turning point in his career. After a long run of hits, he seemed to lose his touch, and a couple of box ofﬁce failures reduced him to bankruptcy. He was forced to lease his country house, the Villa Orphée, and undertake a well-paying tour of the United States in 1876. When he returned to France, he dedicated himself to a new project that was very different from anything he had done before: an opera based on the January 18, 2018 stories of the German Romantic writer E.T. A. Hoffmann, who had been a favorite in France since the 1820s. In 1851, a play incorporating the plots of several Hoffmann stories and featuring the writer himself as the hero had been a success in Paris. The authors, Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, went on to write the libretto for Gounod’s Faust, among many other works. By now Carré was dead, but Offenbach and Barbier joined forces to turn Les contes d’Hoffmann into an opera. O ffenbach typically composed at a frantic pace: in 1873 alone he had ﬁve new works on the boards. His carriage was equipped with a desk so he could keep writing music on the road. But with Hoffmann he took a different approach, working on it for three years, and he achieved a musical and dramatic complexity beyond even the best of his earlier work. In his last days, he was heard to say that he was living only to see Hoffmann performed. The wish wasn’t granted. By the time he died, Offenbach had mostly completed the piano score, but the orchestrations had to be entrusted to another composer, Ernest Guiraud. Just as important, Offenbach was not able to guide the production or revise the opera in response to audience reaction, as he usually did. The result was that, for decades after, producers and directors felt free to alter Hoffmann in accordance with their own dramatic instincts or the needs or limitations of their troupes. In the very ﬁrst production, in 1881, one of the opera’s three acts was cut. Later versions of the score reassigned tunes to different characters and even included a spurious aria, “Scintille, diamant,” based on a melody borrowed from another Offenbach work. (There was at least good precedent for this: the opera’s most famous tune, the Barcarolle, was recycled by Offenbach himself from an earlier opera.) In recent decades, musicologists have used Offenbach’s manuscripts to restore the opera to something like its original form, but there will never be a single, authentic version of Hoffmann. This protean quality seems oddly appropriate for a work so resistant to formula and ﬁxity. In an age that set great store by genre distinctions— Offenbach’s catalog includes opéracomiques, opéra- bouffes, operettes, and more—the composer gave Hoffmann a unique designation: it was an opéra-fantastique, a fantastic or supernatural opera. In The Real “Tales of Hoffmann,” a phonebook-sized new volume that includes the full libretto of the opera, the script of the 1851 play, and a collection of scholarly essays, the editor Vincent Giroud explains that Hoffmann’s stories were translated into French as contes fantastiques—supernatural tales. For the ﬁrst generation of French Romantics, the unique atmosphere of Hoffmann’s tales—the way they combined magical elements with depth psychology, giving the effect of nightmares come to life—came as a revelation. Gérard de Nerval proclaimed, “In literature we aim at the fantastique.” What makes Les contes d’Hoffmann so appealing and so dramatically challenging is the way Offenbach ﬁlters this German Romanticism through his own French psychological realism, thus uniting the two halves of his In Black and White A Novel JUN’ICHIRŌ TANIZAKI Translated by Phyllis I. Lyons “Written as a serial ‘newspaper novel,’ this is a fascinating view of the writer’s mind and of the evolution of a literary genius in a rare experimental mode, as Tanizaki (1886–1965) mingled noir and the fantastic long before Haruki Murakami made his name using the same formula.” —Publishers Weekly Facing the Abyss American Literature and Culture in the 1940s GEORGE HUTCHINSON “A richly detailed investigation of Sisters of the Cross ALEXEI REMIZOV Translated by Roger Keys and Brian Murphy burgeoning creativity in a decade marked “Dark and beguiling; Remizov is a writer by both hope and dread.” worth knowing about.” —Kirkus Reviews —Kirkus Reviews Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature Writings from the Golden Age of Russian Poetry GLORIA FISK KONSTANTIN BATYUSHKOV “[An] important and challenging book . . . Presented and translated by Peter France Not for or against Pamuk, this book is with “Poets and general readers should him in his attempt to enter the gates of the appreciate this volume as much as Western canon without at the same time teachers and scholars . . . it treats an losing his soul.” essential Russian poet, and it shows a —Keith Gessen, cofounding editor of n + 1 master translator at the height of his powers.” —Los Angeles Review of Books CUP.COLUMBIA.EDU 17 Did you not proudly dream of hearing, Like the wind through the trees in a forest, The soft murmuring rustle of the packed crowd, Praising your name and following you with their eyes? The substitution of ambition for desire has the effect of lowering the emotional temperature. Indeed, Les contes d’Hoffmann is a self- conscious, self-reﬂexive work, in a way that Hoffmann’s own tales are not. Because everything in the opera is a symbol or parable, the audience experiences Hoffmann more as the artist devising the tale than as the hero living through it. This makes it difﬁcult to keep the stage action uniﬁed and give it narraMarty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera 23 identity. The opera’s three central acts each depict Hoffmann’s doomed love for a different woman. The ﬁrst, Olympia, turns out to be a living doll, an automaton built by her mad-scientist “father”; the second, Antonia, is a singer who can’t resist the call of performance, even though she is doomed to die if she sings; and the third, Giulietta, is a heartless Venetian courtesan who aims to steal Hoffmann’s reﬂection. These stories are framed by a prologue, in which we see the drunken Hoffmann at a tavern with friends, and an epilogue, in which we learn that each of the love objects is ﬁctional, meant to represent a different aspect of the woman he really loves, the actress Stella. In this way, the three episodes are made to serve as stages in a young man’s sentimental education. STEPHEN SHORE Mark Schowalter as Spalanzani and Erin Morley as Olympia in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent production of Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann First comes blind love, based on ﬁrst impressions, without knowledge of the woman’s real nature; then an idealistic, romantic passion thwarted by circumstances; and ﬁnally a debauched love that alienates him from his true self. The psychological acuity of the composite portrait gives the opera the unity that it lacks dramatically. In the original Hoffmann stories, each See It Now Allianz is a partner of contemporary art at MoMA. Top: Stephen Shore. U.S. 93, Wikieup, Arizona, December 14, 1976. 1976. Chromogenic color print. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Thomas and Susan Dunn Bottom: Stephen Shore. West 3rd Street, Parkersburg, West Virginia, May 16, 1974. 1974. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York. © 2017 Stephen Shore 11 West 53 Street, Manhattan 18 of these unrelated characters points to a different moral than they do when brought together by Barbier and Offenbach. Take Antonia, who appears in the story “Councillor Krespel.” In Hoffmann’s version, Antonia’s singing is clearly a version of sexual passion: it leaves her ﬂushed, “intoxicated with bliss,” “swimming in delight,” yet it terriﬁes her father, Krespel, who refuses to allow her to meet with her suitor, the composer B. When B. ﬁnally does get Antonia to sing, she perishes in a kind of Liebestod. In the opera, on the other hand, sex is absent from the equation. Instead, Antonia’s singing is seen—in terms that Offenbach surely understood and identiﬁed with—as a form of theatrical ambition. When the diabolical Doctor Miracle tries to coax Antonia into singing, it is by using the lure of fame: All the blessings that heaven entrusted to you, Must they be buried in the shadow of a household and family life?. . . tive momentum. The recent revival of Bartlett Sher’s production of Les contes d’Hoffmann, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 2009, often lost sight of Hoffmann himself: Vittorio Grigolo sang beautifully and cut a handsome ﬁgure, but was generally to be found off to the side of the stage, striking a tragic pose while events unfolded around him. By contrast, Tara Erraught as Nicklausse, Hoffmann’s sidekick who is actually his muse in disguise, was more central to the action. Always on stage as an ironic observer of Hoffmann’s follies, she shares the audience’s point of view, and thus serves as a more natural focus of identiﬁcation than the nominal hero. Meanwhile, the set design, by Michael Yeargan, gave in to the almost irresistible temptation to disintegrate the work into a series of spectacular tableaux. The Olympia act, in particular, was awash in Surrealist imagery, which was certainly striking, yet emotionally unrelated to what is supposed to be Hoffmann’s plight. Offenbach himself, who was always keen on spectacle—indeed, he frequently turned hit shows into ﬁnancial disasters because he overspent on sets and costumes—would have sympathized. Yet of all his works, Hoffmann is the one that demands the most restraint. Offenbach’s delicacy, well hidden for much of his career, emerges in this last masterpiece, and it demands a certain reticence on the part of the production, lest it be scared back into hiding. The New York Review Raja Shehadeh Stephen Shore/303 Gallery, New York This Land Is Our Land elled from Jerusalem to Hebron to Beir Sabaa [now Beersheba] to Gaza to Khan Yunus to Majdal to Ramle to Lydda to Kalkilia to Tul Karam and only passed through Arab lands. What is owned by the Jews compares as nothing to what is owned by the Arabs in Palestine. His observation was not far from the truth. By 1949, a year after the State of Israel was established, only 13.5 percent of its land was under formal Jewish ownership, either by private individuals or by the state. In the course of the 1948 Arab– Israeli War, some 750,000 Palestinians ﬂed the ﬁghting or were forced off their land. In 1950 Israel passed a law designating those lands as “absentee” territory and through a series of other legal measures reserved it for the use of the Jewish Israeli population. But there remained heavy concentrations of land— in the Galilee, the north of Israel, and the Negev in the south—that was still owned by the Palestinians who stayed in Israel and became Israeli citizens. In these areas, Palestinians still far outnumbered Jewish Israelis in 1950. The new state was confronted with two questions: how to “Judaize” those areas, and how to transfer most of the land there to Jewish Israelis. As Gary Fields makes clear, the IsNabi Musa, West Bank, January 19, 2010; photograph by Stephen Shore from the exhibition Stephen Shore, on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, through May 28, 2018. The catalog is by Quentin Bajac, with contributions by David Campany, Kristen Gaylord, and Martino Stierli. It is published by MoMA . Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror by Gary Fields. University of California Press, 404 pp., $29.95 (paper) Between 1922 and 1925 my great-uncle, the journalist Najib Nassar, rode on horseback throughout Mandate Palestine and the newly created country of Transjordan. He published his observations as a series of letters in Al-Karmil, the weekly newspaper he edited in Haifa. In a number of these letters Najib voiced his fears about the fate of Palestinian farmers, especially in the north of the country, where absentee Arab landowners were selling their large estates to new institutions of the burgeoning Zionist movement. During his travels northward from Jenin to Nazareth, Najib proposed that the nature of the Palestinian struggle with the Zionist movement was in essence economic. In the north of Palestine, wealthy Lebanese landowners owned entire villages. Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, a series of legal developments in the Ottoman Empire—which ruled Palestine until 1917—had enabled the growth of these large land holdings. They included the promulgation of the Ottoman Land Code of 1858, which attempted to eliminate the musha system, whereby land was held in common, and required that the cultivator-turnedowner register his land with Treasury ofﬁcials. Two things dissuaded farmers from doing so: the desire to avoid paying taxes on their land and the fact that the land registry was based in faraway urban centers such as Beirut and Damascus. January 18, 2018 These developments had nothing to do with the Zionist project. They were simply intended to help implement a more centralized and rational method for the collection of taxes. In the hilly parts of Palestine, where the land was mainly planted with olive and fruit trees, holdings were small and the arrival of the Zionists changed little. But in the arable plain and valley regions, where water was more readily available, the Zionists sought to acquire land. Soon Lebanese landlords—the Sursuk, Twani, and Khoury families—started selling their holdings in Marj Bani Amer (now called the Jezreel Valley). These feudal landowners had little interest in supporting the Zionist enterprise; they were unconcerned with colonization. But the proﬁts from their lands were falling, and the cotton crops they planted had failed. They were investing in large-scale capitalist ventures in Egypt and Lebanon, such as the Suez Canal Company and the port in Beirut, and they needed cash. “By selling all they had in this plain,” Najib predicted, “these landowners would be contributing to the distress of the country that would arise from the establishment of a Jewish kingdom.” T he legal processes the Ottomans had begun were continued in the years after the end of their rule—ﬁrst by the British military occupation of Palestine from 1917 to 1922, and then when the League of Nations granted the British a mandate over Palestine from 1922 to 1948. During both periods, the British continued to revise the land laws with a view to making the land more marketable and facilitating its sale to the Zionists. Among the British ﬁgures whose ideas provided the foundation for British land policy in Palestine was Sir Ernest Dowson, who believed that what the Palestinian fellah, or peasant, needed was “enclosure and partition of the common ﬁelds.” In his book Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror, Gary Fields deﬁnes enclosure as “a practice resulting in the transfer of land from one group of people to another and the establishment of exclusionary spaces on territorial landscapes.” Dowson was intent on creating blocks of property that could be surveyed and registered with the Mandate Land Authority. Mandate authorities also sought to repeal the musha system. British ofﬁcials were convinced that the enclosure of common land, which had already been implemented in England, had brought about “improvement” and “progress,” and they sought to replicate it in Palestine. This British policy represented a victory for the Zionist movement. It made it possible for more Palestinian land to be sold to Zionist Jews. Yet although many offered lucrative sums for the land, not all landowners were tempted to sell. In some places, Najib wrote, landowners were establishing an agricultural school and planting more olive trees to stand against the encroachment. Enough Palestinians refused to sell that the Zionists ended up acquiring little land. The Palestinian writer and educator Khalil Sakakini was an educational inspector under the British Mandate. In his diary he described a trip he took on December 13, 1934: If the Jews have a few impoverished colonies the Arabs have thousands of villages. We trav- raeli government used methods to achieve these two objectives not unlike the ones it used in the West Bank after the Six-Day War of 1967. In these areas, most of the land ownership was recorded only as written descriptions, such as that a particular parcel was bordered in the north by a road and in the south by an escarpment. The Israeli government did not recognize such descriptions as valid records of ownership. In the Galilee, Fields writes, Palestinians were compelled to prove, through documents, that they were the legal owners of the land: Palestinians who held rights to their land through the Ottoman notion of continuous occupancy and cultivation were invariably unable to meet this requirement. As a result, their land passed into the category of state property. This newly designated state property became the foundation of Jewish settlement. Over the past two decades, most of the land used for Jewish settlements in the West Bank has been acquired on the grounds that it belongs to the state. This tactic has enabled Israeli leaders to maintain that the state of Israel does not conﬁscate land from Palestinians to build settlements. The state only began to use this legal ploy in earnest after 1982. Until then, the authorities acquired land for settlement primarily by requisitioning it for military purposes. A smaller percentage of land had been acquired by declaring it absentee land or territory formerly held by the Jordanian government. By 1979, when I cofounded the organization Al-Haq with several other lawyers to bring legal challenges against the Israeli occupation, Israel had gained control of roughly 30 percent of the land in the West Bank. But those acquisitions were for the most part scattered and separated by plots 19 of private land, rendering most of them unsuitable for settlement building. It was around this time that I was driving to Tel Aviv and passed by the land of François Albina from Jerusalem, one of my clients. I could see that mobile homes were being brought in. When I next returned to the site I saw a cluster of nine houses, which later developed into the settlement of Beit Horon. That evening I wrote in my diary that what was built so hastily could just as quickly be removed. I should have known better. I had seen the settlement master plan that the Jewish Regional Council in the West Bank had drawn up in cooperation with the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization. According to this plan, 80,000 Israeli Jews were to be settled in the West Bank by 1986 in twenty-three settlements and twenty outposts. Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s minister of defense, declared that “we are going to leave an entirely different map of the country that it will be impossible to ignore.” The custodian of absentee property had transferred Albina’s land to the Zionist agency with a long-term lease, because it was deemed to be state land. When I proved before an Israeli court that the land was privately owned by Albina, the judge decided that the transaction had been “in fact standard, strong and binding and this in spite of the fact that we concluded in our opinion that the ownership of the said land belongs to the appellant.” The Israeli judges based this oddly contradictory decision on Article 5 of Military Order 58, according to which “any transaction carried out in good faith between the Custodian of Ab- sentee Property and any other person, concerning property which the Custodian believed when he entered into the transaction to be abandoned property, will not be void and will continue to be valid even if it were proved that the property was not at that time abandoned property.” The presiding judge did not concern himself with the question of how the custodian could “in good faith” have believed that Albina’s land was abandoned. The custodian had, after all, had access to the area’s land registry, which was conﬁscated by the Israeli military immediately after the occupation. A circular dated November 14, 1979, restricted public access to land records. Such records are still restricted for most of the land in the West Bank that Israel controls. Soon after the court ruled against Albina, two representatives from the illegal settlement of Ofra—established mainly on private Palestinian land— came to see me at my law ofﬁce in Ramallah. They wanted me to register a local West Bank company for them. When I refused, they were incensed. “Why not? We are bringing progress to the area. Do you want to say you’re against that?” I responded that most Palestinians felt as I did and would not want to have anything to do with the settlers. They answered: “But why? We are not depriving you of anything. The more settlements, the more progress. How can that be bad for you?” Albina’s case, which began in 1979, dragged on for several years. During that period, a change took place in the primary method the Israeli govern- ment used to acquire land for building Jewish settlements in the West Bank. We began seeing fewer cases of seizure for military purposes and more cases like that of Albina, which turned on the declaration of land as state property. The case that forced this shift in strategy occurred in 1979 and centered on a settlement called Elon Moreh. On June 7, 1979, from a hilltop within the boundaries of the village of Rujeib, 1.5 miles east of the Jerusalem– Nablus highway, Mustafa Dweikat and sixteen other owners of 125 dunums of land (about thirty- one acres) witnessed the start of a “settlement operation.” With the assistance of helicopters and heavy equipment, a road was being built from the highway to the hilltop. The chief of staff had given his approval on April 11 for the requisitioning of the area for military purposes. On June 5, Brigadier General Binyamin BenEliezer, the military commander of the West Bank, had signed the requisition order, which designated an area of approximately seven hundred dunums as “seized for military purposes.” The seventeen owners of the land appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice. At the trial, their counsel presented an afﬁdavit signed by the former chief of staff of the Israeli army, Haim Bar-Lev, in which he refuted the claim that the settlement contributed to Israel’s security. If anything, it would impede military operations. In the event of a war, he testiﬁed, the army might ﬁnd itself having to protect the civilian Israeli settlement instead of ﬁghting the enemy. For their part, the settlers submitted an afﬁdavit by Menachem Felix, who maintained on behalf of Gush Emunim, the early pioneers of settlement in the West Bank, that “the settlement of the People of Israel in the Land of Israel is the realm of the most effective, the truest act of security.” He then concluded: “But settlement itself does not arise out of security reasons or physical needs, but by the power of destiny of the return of Israelites to their land.” The Israeli court did not accept Felix’s statement. Nor did it accept BarLev’s; but for the ﬁrst and last time, lawyers for Palestinians succeeded in having the establishment of a settlement overturned. In its ruling the court said that the military government could not create facts about military needs that are designed ab initio to persist even after the end of the military rule in a given area, when the fate of the area after the end of such rule cannot yet be known.1 After that ruling, the government depended signiﬁcantly less on military land seizures. The primary method of acquiring land for settlement construction from then on was to declare it state property. To determine what land could be so designated, a 1979 military survey estimated that 1.53 million dunums of land in the West Bank lacked a registered title or had been recorded, as in the Galilee, through written description only. When I traveled to the United States in 1985 to promote my book Occupier’s 1 The case is discussed at length in Michael Sfard’s excellent new book, The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights, translated by Maya Johnston (Metropolitan, 2018), pp. 164–176. 20 Law: Israel and the West Bank, I spoke about the settlements and the danger they presented to solving the Israeli– Palestinian conﬂict. I found that many audience members were convinced by what they had been told by Israeli propagandists: that the settlements were necessary for the security of the State of Israel. I would remind my audiences of Bar-Lev’s statement, but most still accepted Israel’s security justiﬁcation for building settlements. Now that the occupation of the West Bank is in its ﬁftieth year, the Israeli government no longer uses that justiﬁcation. The leaders of the settlements and state ofﬁcials today claim that this is their God-given land. This biblical justiﬁcation does not apply only to what Israel has classiﬁed as public property. It also applies to privately owned Palestinian land. According to Fields, a report by Talia Sasson of the Israeli State Attorney’s Ofﬁce documented systematic conﬁscations of private Palestinian land by settlers who, assisted by complicit government ofﬁcials, established numerous unauthorized outposts on the landscape . . .which were later granted legal status as ofﬁcial settlements. Nothing has been done to right this wrong and return the land to its registered owners. Menachem Felix’s justiﬁcation for Jewish settlement using the authority of the Bible has trumped the secular law of the land. The story of the transformation of the land in Palestine/Israel from the Ottoman period to the present takes up much of Fields’s book. But he tells it in a larger setting, tracing the idea of “enclosure” through England and North America before arriving at his discussion of the Palestinian landscape. What has happened there, he argues, belongs to a “lineage of dispossession” that can be followed back “to the practice of overturning systems of rights to land stemming from the enclosures in early modern England.” He describes at length how maps, property law, and landscape architecture were enlisted by modernizers from the seventeenth century onward in the Zionist practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to “gain control of land from existing landholders and remake life on the landscape consistent with their modernizing aims.” In his chapter on the colonization of North America and the subjugation of Native Americans, Fields describes how “the law emerged as a crucial instrument in dispossessing Amerindians and transferring their land to colonists.” In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, he argues, the English “tended to favor acquisition of Amerindian land through what colonists considered lawful purchase,” although it was invariably the colonists who had the advantage in such transactions. By the early nineteenth century, in contrast, “the law had become an instrument . . . enabling the transfer of Amerindian land to settlers through forcible seizure.” A crucial moment in this development, for Fields, was Chief Justice John Marshall’s ruling in the 1823 Supreme Court case Johnson v. M’Intosh that “conquest gives a title which the courts of the conqueror cannot deny.” In this way, Fields concludes, a discourse of land improvement and property rights—suppleThe New York Review mented with notions of savagery and racism—had settled upon the landscape . . .while a ravaged and decimated population of Indians was enclosed in reservations. The claim continues to be heard that the Zionists made the desert bloom and that the Palestinians were not forced off their land. And yet, as Ramzy Baroud shows in his moving new book, The Last Earth, A Palestinian Story: “The Nakba, the genesis of all the pain that has been endured by every Palestinian over the last four generations, persists.”3 In his conclusion, Fields tell us that he wrote Enclosure to show Anisa Ahmad Jaber Mahamid, born in 1908 in the Palestinian village of al-Lajjun, Jenin District, and photographed by Fazal Sheikh in the Arab-Israeli city of Umm el-Fahem, 2011. Her portrait appears in Memory Trace, the ﬁrst volume in Sheikh’s Erasure Trilogy, published by Steidl in 2015. tary one. But reading Fields’s chapters on North America, I recognized the similarities between the treatment of Native Americans and some of Israel’s tactics and attitudes toward the Palestinians. Yet I doubt that, despite Israel’s assiduous efforts over several decades to push Palestinians into conﬁned areas within the West Bank, the outcome will be the same. What distinguishes Israel/ Palestine from the other regions Fields describes is that the usurpation of land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is taking place long after the age of colonialism came to an end, sixty-nine years after the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in deﬁance of international law. Jewish settlements violate Article 49 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own people into occupied land. And this is happening in full view of the media in one of the most reported conﬂicts in the world. Despite the extensive documentation, both visual and textual, of what took place in the part of Mandate Palestine where the Israeli state was established sixty-nine years ago and is currently taking place in the West Bank, Israel remains unable to come to terms with its past, unwilling to recognize the Nakba (catastrophe) that took place in 1948, and unprepared to accept that the Palestinians are a nation entitled to self- determination.2 In the West Bank, where I live, the effect of the creation of “white space” became more evident as time passed. In the ﬁrst decades of the Israeli occupation settlements were established mostly in remote areas and did not have a signiﬁcant impact on the daily lives of Palestinians. It is entirely different now. The separation wall divides many communities from their arable land; roads have been built that Palestinians are not allowed to use; nature reserves have been established from which Palestinians are excluded. Now when I try walking in most of the hills in the West Bank I am called a trespasser. The enclosure of the land has given rise to a system of discrimination over the use of natural resources of land and water that is akin to apartheid. Where interaction between the two communities was possible in the past, they now live entirely separate existences in the tiny space that they share unequally. Although Fields’s book provides convincing evidence that what took place in Palestine/Israel shares a common lineage with what took place in England and North America over the past three centuries, it must be pointed out that most of the land in Israel was taken after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. In the West Bank it was only after the Oslo Accords of 1993–1995 that Jewish settlements tripled in number. Only then did the Israeli public come to believe that the more than 60 percent of the West Bank classiﬁed as Area C—under sole Israeli control—would eventually be annexed to Israel. Reading Enclosure brings home the tragedy of such immense and irrevocable destruction. The sad truth is that the creation of gated communities and walled states is spreading well beyond the three regions he discusses and is fast becoming the norm in today’s world. A few years ago, while taking a hike close to my home, I encountered a young settler from Dolev who objected to my presence in the hills where I’ve walked for many years. Challenging my right to hike there, he tried to call the army to evict me from the land. As we waited for them to arrive, he claimed with unﬂinching conviction that it was he, not I, who “really lives here.” 2 See Sarah Helm’s article on page 24 of this issue. January 18, 2018 1917 RUSSIAN REVOLUTION Overtaken by the Night how the making of private space, the making of white space, and the making of Jewish space on territorial landscapes all spring from the same exclusionary impulses deriving from the enclosures and the appropriation of land in England. Such impulses have enabled groups of people across time and territory to proclaim: “This is my land and not yours.” Fazal Sheikh The popular image of Native Americans in the minds of most Palestinians is mostly derived from Hollywood movies and bears little similarity to the lives and social worlds they made in North America before the colonists arrived. Yasser Arafat was fond of repeating that “the Palestinians are not Red Indians,” by which he meant to distance us from the Native Americans and suggest that ours was a much more highly developed culture than what he judged to be their wild, rudimen- Commemorating the Centennial of the 3 To be published by Pluto in February. One Russian’s Journey through Peace, War, Revolution, and Terror Richard G. Robbins Jr. “Dzhunkovsky’s story spans not just one, but several of the most tumultuous periods in modern Russian history, and Robbins nicely positions Dzhunkovsky’s life as a way to tell the story of the Soviet revolution from its inception to its bloody aftermath. A well-researched biography of a consistently inﬂuential Russian leader.”—Foreword Reviews $39.95 Cloth Roads Not Taken An Intellectual Biography of William C. Bullitt Alexander Etkind “A brilliant portrait of one of the most important American diplomats of the twentieth century. A man of immense charm, a friend and savior of Freud and his family in 1938, an admirer of Russia and witness to the horror of the purges, a ﬁgure turned into ﬁction by Bulgakov, Bullitt comes to life in Etkind’s remarkable book.” —Jay Winter, Yale University $24.95 Paper $24.95 Paper Greetings from Novorossiya Eyewitness to the War in Ukraine Pawel Pieniazek “An excellent rendition of the intense, strange atmosphere that prevailed in 2014 Ukraine, complete with descriptions of trains full of corpses from the downed Malaysian airliner, the corrupt political circus in the people’s republics, and the inﬁltration of the country by the now-familiar phenomenon of ‘fake news.’ A lively and detailed account.”—Publishers Weekly UNIV E RS ITY OF PIT T S B U R G H P R E S S 800.621.2736 21 A Star Is Born BBC ; Focus Features; Everett Collection ; RJR Collection/Alamy Geoffrey Wheatcroft Churchill a ﬁlm directed by Jonathan Teplitzky Darkest Hour a ﬁlm directed by Joe Wright In May 1941, Winston Churchill gave orders for a cinema to be installed at Chequers. This house in Buckinghamshire, built under Queen Elizabeth I but heavily gothicized under Queen Victoria, and which a benefactor had presented to the nation in 1917 as a country residence for the prime minister, had acquired a new importance as it was forty miles from Downing Street and the Blitz. There Churchill would retreat on weekends to brood about the war undisturbed by bombs, and to relax as best he could. He had always enjoyed drama, on stage and then on screen, and he saw public life as a kind of dramatic performance, with himself in the lead: Jonathan Rose gets this right in the subtitle of his valuable book The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (2014). Churchill’s hugely proliﬁc literary output (from around 1930 onward much assisted by researchers and ghostwriters) had included ﬁlm scripts and one novel—the swashbuckling if not quite bodice-ripping 1900 Savrola (“a tale of the revolution in Laurania”), of which he later endearingly said that “I have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it.” In 1929 he visited Hollywood— where he befriended Charlie Chaplin, among others—and between 1934 and 1936 he was paid the very large fee of £10,000 by the Hungarian-born producer Alexander Korda to write two screenplays. One was about the Great War and the other about the life of George V. In the former, an American ﬁghter pilot who has pretended to be a Canadian to join the Royal Flying Corps hears the news that his country has entered the war and says, “Oh! I’m so glad! I was brought up on George Washington, who never told a lie.” This might have been an uncanny premonition of that remarkable phenomenon of our time, the American cult of Churchill. It is expressed through presidential invocations, warships and high schools named after him, statues from New Orleans to Kansas City, dinners in Washington and exhibitions in New York, and endless books, movies, and television series. This cult has had consequences that are serious, and too often lamentable. Maybe it was as well that neither of Churchill’s two screenplays was ﬁlmed, but Korda would continue to play an important if little-known part in Churchill’s ﬁnancial life. During World War II, enormous sums were paid, in strictly private deals, for the ﬁlm rights to Churchill’s biography of his ancestor the ﬁrst Duke of Marlborough and his History of the EnglishSpeaking Peoples, which would not be published for years to come. Again neither movie was made, but Korda became Sir Alexander as an expression of gratitude. At Chequers, Churchill and his colleagues would watch the latest ﬁlms 22 appeaser who thought that England was ﬁnished in 1940.) In 1964 came The Finest Hours, a documentary narrated by Orson Welles, with Churchill’s words spoken by Patrick Wymark. That was the year before Churchill’s death. Eight years later came the ﬁrst biopic, Young Winston, based on My Early Life, Churchill’s most enjoyable book. Produced by Carl Foreman, a leftist fugitive from Hollywood, it was directed by Richard Attenborough with a stellar cast: Robert Shaw, Anne Bancroft, John Mills, Anthony Hopkins, and Jack Hawkins. The title role was played by a then unknown, Simon Ward; Pippa Steel was the girlish Clementine Hozier, whom Churchill married in 1908. O Four Churchills, clockwise from top left: Albert Finney in The Gathering Storm, 2002; Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, 2017; Richard Burton in Walk With Destiny, 1974; and Robert Hardy in The Wilderness Years, 1981 and newsreels showing the progress of the war. George Orwell said that Churchill had “a real if not very discriminating feeling for literature,” and the same could be said of his cinematic tastes. He detested Citizen Kane, but then he may have been aware that it was to some degree based on William Randolph Hearst, with whom and with whose newspapers he had established a lucrative relationship after he stayed with Hearst at San Simeon in California, the model for Kane’s Xanadu. On the other hand, he loved Laurence Olivier’s ﬁlm of Henry V, a Churchillian vision of war-as-epic released the same year that another army crossed from England to Normandy. It was the war years that saw the ﬁrst depictions of Churchill onscreen. The very ﬁrst may have been Ohm Krüger, a 1941 German agitprop ﬁlm about the Boer War (winner of the best foreign movie award at that year’s Venice Film Festival—and how many ardent cineastes remember that?), with a whisky-sodden Queen Victoria and a brutal commandant of a concentration camp—a phrase used by the Spanish in Cuba shortly before the Boer War and borrowed by the British in South Africa—who butchers women. He is unnamed but bears a striking resemblance to Churchill, who had been a war correspondent there and was imprisoned by the Boers. Scarcely less of a curiosity is Mission to Moscow, directed by Michael Curtiz in 1943, and based on the fatuous memoirs of Joseph Davies, the American ambassador to Moscow. In the ﬁlm, the Moscow Trials are portrayed as a judicially proper punishment of ﬁfth columnists and traitors. It was bitterly denounced by the anti-Stalinist left, including Edmund Wilson and Dwight Macdonald, although Churchill called Stalin’s purges “merciless but perhaps not needless.” On his way to Moscow Davies meets Churchill, played by Dudley Field Malone, an American lawyer and politician with a sideline as a character actor, who was thought to bear a close resemblance to the prime minister. Slowly, steadily, increasingly, movies and television programs about Churchill began to multiply, until a trickle became a stream and then a torrent. This past year has seen at least two new biopics: Churchill, set in May 1944 before D-Day, and Darkest Hour, set in May 1940 before the fall of France. There’s also the hugely successful Dunkirk. Churchill doesn’t appear in that noisy ﬁlm, but at the end a soldier brought back from France picks up a newspaper and reads, “We shall ﬁght on the beaches . . .” In the outpouring of war movies after 1945 there were sometimes brief appearances by Churchill. But the great breakthrough in Churchilliana, and the ﬁrst real burgeoning of the Churchill cult, began around ﬁfteen years after the war. Shown over 1960 and 1961, the twenty-seven-part The Valiant Years was based on Churchill’s The Second World War. One of the ﬁrst important documentaries broadcast on American television, it was directed by Anthony Bushell and John Schlesinger and seen by huge numbers of viewers. The producer, Jack Le Vien, originally hoped that the narrator would be Prince Philip, but he had to make do with Gary Merrill, while Richard Burton spoke Churchill’s words. Given the dates it was shown, it’s possible that The Valiant Years had a part in John Kennedy’s photo-ﬁnish defeat of Richard Nixon in November 1960. Kennedy was the ﬁrst president to invoke Churchill, as did Rose Kennedy, reminding voters that her boy Jack had been in London just before the war, and had written the Churchillian Why England Slept as his senior thesis at Harvard. (She understandably didn’t remind them that her husband, Joseph, ambassador to the Court of St James’s and surely FDR’s most eccentric appointment, was a corrupt, anti-Semitic ne small part in Young Winston was taken by Robert Hardy, as the headmaster of Harrow. Hardy had actually met Churchill twice—ﬁrst when he was introduced to him as a boy by a family friend, Dr. William Temple, the archbishop of York, later of Canterbury; and then in 1953 when he was playing in Hamlet at the Old Vic with Richard Burton in the title role. After the play, Churchill went backstage and entered Burton’s dressing room with the words, “My Lord Hamlet, may I use your facilities?,” which became one small part of the great corpus of Churchillian anecdotage. Little can the two actors at the Old Vic have guessed that they would one day impersonate their backstage visitor. After The Valiant Years, Burton played Churchill in the 1974 American television biopic The Gathering Storm. At the time, he incautiously told an American reporter that “to play Churchill is to hate him,” and recalled the loathing felt for him in the South Wales of his boyhood as an enemy of the working class and a man who had sent troops to Tonypandy during a mining dispute in 1910. Burton was not asked to play Churchill again. But Hardy almost cornered the market. He began in 1981 with Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, an eight-part television dramadoc with Siân Phillips as Clementine, and never looked back. By the time he died last summer at ninety-one, Hardy had almost lost count of his Churchills, from supporting appearances in the television movies The Woman He Loved and Bomber Harris to a last hurrah in Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain in 2015. In between there was Winnie, by all accounts a simply excruciating musical that closed soon after it opened, and even a French play, Celui qui a Dit “NON .” Hardy won a BAFTA, the British Oscar, for The Wilderness Years, in which he set the tone for Churchill as larger-than-life bulldog, with the scowls and the jowls, the hats and the cigars, the mannerisms and the lisping speech that could make Churchill sound drunk even when he was sober. Since then one actor after another has taken on the part, even though, as the late A. A. Gill rightly said, Churchill was an “iceberg for titanic thespian aspirations.” Maybe the best was Albert Finney in The Gathering Storm, The New York Review These movies tend to have a tenuous basis in fact. In the case of Churchill, it was certainly true that Churchill dragged his feet as long as he could over a cross-channel invasion, which was the one way that the Western Allies could make a serious contribution to the defeat of Germany. Even as D-Day approached he was deeply apprehensive, and told Clementine that he foresaw terrible casualties, many more than there were in the event. But the idea that he tried to call off the landing at the last moment is silly. And even more misleading is any idea that he was guilt-ridden about Gallipoli. He knew that lamentable episode clouded his reputation and resented that, since he continued to think, against all evidence, that it was a brilliant enterprise undone by incompetent execution and sheer misfortune. What makes Churchill more curious is Cohen Media Group a 2002 BBC -HBO biopic with Vanessa Redgrave, who was so good that Mary Soames, the Churchills’ youngest and last surviving child, exclaimed while watching, “It’s Mama!” Most recently, in what must be an incomplete catalog, were two better-than-usual television Churchills, Michael Gambon and John Lithgow. In Churchill’s Secret (2016) Gambon wisely eschewed the usual shtick—Churchill deﬁant, Churchill triumphant—and gave us Churchill in unhappy decline. The “secret” of the title was the severe stroke that incapacitated the prime minister for weeks in the summer of 1953, while the country was run by a handful of senior ministers. The public was kept completely unaware of this by a conspiracy among the press lords, principally Churchill’s friends Beaverbrook and Camrose. In World War II: When Lions Roared (1994), set at the Tehran conference in 1943, Bob Hoskins was an againsttype Churchill. Michael Caine was Stalin, and Roosevelt was played by Lithgow, who has since switched roles: in the very successful, although sometimes historically misleading, Netﬂix drama The Crown, to quote Gill again, “Lithgow’s Churchill is a marvellously monstrous rendition of the old sot.” It was surely signiﬁcant that a program ostensibly about the queen and her family should have digressed into such pure Churchillian territory as his meeting with Graham Sutherland, who was painting his portrait. T his year’s cinematic incarnations aren’t bad by those variable standards, although it seems that Clementine is as easy a part to get right as Winston is to get wrong. There have been few bad performances of that highly intelligent, highly strung, intimidating lady. Harriet Walter was good in The Crown, and Miranda Richardson in Churchill and Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour both shine. As to Churchill, Brian Cox is more than adequate in the former, and Gary Oldman surprisingly good in the latter, another improbable piece of casting for an actor whose previous roles have included Sid Vicious and Lee Harvey Oswald. Both these movies are heroic fantasies. As Churchill opens, shortly before D-Day, our hero walks by the seashore and sees the water running blood red. He is, we are to suppose, obsessed by the horrors of the Gallipoli landings twenty-nine years earlier—“so many young men, so much waste”—and consumed by dread of another futile slaughter on the beaches of Normandy. He attends an unlikely open-air conference with Eisenhower, Montgomery, and King George VI, where he pleads for the landings—the greatest of their kind in history and years in the planning—to be canceled. Not surprisingly he’s politely ignored and goes home to sulk. To add a bizarre touch, Churchill insists, before leaving home, that he must wear formal dress with knee breeches to meet the sovereign. Later on there are some more droll moments, as when Churchill tells a minion to ﬁnd out from General Sir Harold Alexander whether he has taken Rome yet, something that the Allied commander in Italy would quite likely have communicated quickly to the prime minister when it happened. January 18, 2018 Brian Cox in Jonathan Teplitzky’s Churchill, 2017 that it was written by Alex von Tunzelmann, who has published Reel History (2015), a collection of essays about how the movies travesty historical truth. Although Darkest Hour has already garnered critical praise and may prove a greater success, it is in some ways a more dangerous warping of the truth. After an absurdly unlifelike scene in the House of Commons (which neither large nor small screen ever gets right), with the whole House seemingly wanting Neville Chamberlain to resign, Churchill is appointed by King George VI with the odd words, “It is my duty to invite you to take up the position of prime minister of this United Kingdom,” rather than Churchill’s plausible and amusing account of what actually happened: the king playfully asked Churchill if he knew why he had been summoned to the palace, to which Churchill replied, “Sir, I simply couldn’t imagine why.” As the calamity in France unfolds, the evil Chamberlain and Lord Halifax (Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane) still conspire against him. These portrayals are coarse caricatures, outrageous in the case of Halifax, who was the least enthusiastic of the appeasers, although ten years earlier as viceroy of India he had certainly tried to appease Gandhi—to the rage of Churchill, who called Gandhi “a half-naked fakir” unﬁt to rule India with its “primitive” inhabitants. In one absurd scene, the two continue their wicked plot over dinner, wearing white tie and sloshing brandy. In another, the king visits Churchill late at night to promise him his support. Almost by convention now, there is a pretty young woman (Lily James) working for Churchill whom he bullies but then befriends. At one point, she tells him that he’s making his V-sign the wrong way, palm backward, which means “Up your bum,” at which they dissolve into giggles. All of that is surpassed by a scene in which Churchill leaps out of his car and into the Underground. In the train, he ﬁnds a group of stout-hearted Londoners full of the Dunkirk spirit. When he quotes Macaulay’s “Horatius at the Bridge,” his line is ﬁnished by a black passenger. Soon our hero is cheered in the Commons by MPs on all sides. In fact, the Tory benches were sullenly subdued through his ﬁrst famous speeches in May and June, and only cheered him when he announced the perﬁdious sinking of the French ﬂeet at Mers-el-Kébir. D o these fantastical entertainments matter? And what do they say about Churchill—or about us? There is a standard defense that such movies are dramas, not documentaries, but that’s disingenuous. For every person who has read serious, detached books about Churchill and his times, there will be thousands whose knowledge of him comes from cinema and television. And by now the encrustations of mythologizing and hero worship have gone beyond a point where they can be easily corrected. The line at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence— “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”—is the guiding principle for depictions of Churchill in popular culture. Almost more dangerous than obvious hokum are the dramadocs. The Wilderness Years that launched Hardy on his long Churchillian career was cowritten by Martin Gilbert, then still engaged in his monumental, informative, but uncritical ofﬁcial biography, and the program gave the authorized Churchillian version of the 1930s: Churchill the prophet unheard, the giant struggling against the pygmies of appeasement. Orwell’s life was changed by the Spanish civil war, not just from ﬁghting in it but from reading so many lies about it that he wondered whether a true account of contemporary events could ever be written. One sometimes wonders whether a true account of the 1930s will ever penetrate public consciousness, against the version Churchill so successfully if spuriously imposed of his lonely voice against the craven appeasers who failed to enlist other nations and the German generals to thwart Hitler’s aggression. Robert Harris’s new novel Munich, published in America in January and already a British best seller, is most unusual in giving a sympathetic portrait of Chamberlain. It’s true that senior British politicians wavered at the time of Dunkirk, when it seemed for some days that most of the British army would be lost. Even Churchill for a moment talked of possible concessions to Hitler that might lead to a negotiated peace. But why is that surprising? England could see no help at hand, and not much objective reason for hope. Americans who lap up Dunkirk and Darkest Hour might remember that their own compatriots were resolutely united in their determination to have nothing to do with resisting Hitler, not only in September 1939 and June 1940 but until December 1941, when Hitler left them no choice by declaring war on the United States. It matters to remember such things, because Churchill is still all too much with us. The Brexit referendum campaign was one of the most unpleasant public events I can remember, distinguished by bombast and downright mendacity on both sides—and with Churchill continually invoked, also by both sides. Sir Nicholas Soames MP, Churchill’s grandson, and the present Duke of Wellington both claimed that their illustrious forebears—the great Marlborough, the Iron Duke, and Sir Winston himself—would have supported Remain. But Churchill’s image constantly appeared on the front pages of the Sun and the Daily Mail, supposedly urging Leave. On the American side of the Atlantic, the uncontrollable Churchill cult has had its own dark consequences. Reverence for Churchill and disdain for Chamberlain stiffened President Lyndon Johnson’s resolution to send more troops to Vietnam, as he said himself. President Ronald Reagan paraphrased Churchill in his ﬁrst inaugural address to justify his economic policies. And President George Bush the Younger never stopped quoting Churchill, above all when urging the invasion of Iraq. In somewhat optimistic words, Joe Wright, the director of Darkest Hour, sees his movie as a rebuke to Donald Trump: “Churchill resisted when it mattered most, and as I travel around America I am really impressed and optimistic at the level of resistance happening in the US at the moment.” However that might be, Wright must know what effects his ﬁlm and Dunkirk are having in England at present. Max Hastings recently pointed out in these pages that Dunkirk, doubtless without its makers’ intending it, is taken by some as a Brexit movie, as we plucky islanders once more shake the dust of Europe from our feet.* As if to make that point, a headline in the Daily Telegraph spelled it out: “When it comes to Brexit, we need our Dunkirk spirit back.” But could “our Dunkirk spirit,” however splendid it was at the time, have been our undoing since? More than a century ago, Giovanni Giolitti, the Italian prime minister, claimed that “beautiful national legends” help sustain a country. He should have added that they can also do great harm. For the English, “1940” is now the greatest of such legends: Dunkirk and “Very well, alone!,” the Battle of Britain and “the few,” the Blitz and “London can take it,” and Churchill’s speeches echoing all the while. In 1940, Churchill said that “if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall ﬁnd that we have lost the future,” which is one way of putting it. Another way is Orwell’s in Nineteen Eighty-Four: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Churchill— real or imagined—now controls the past, the present, and, alas, the future, maybe with bleaker consequences than we can yet know. *Max Hastings, “Splendid Isolation,” The New York Review, October 12, 2017. 23 Homeless in Gaza Sarah Helm A slice of land just twenty-ﬁve miles long and seven miles across at its widest, the Gaza Strip sits at the southwest 24 tip of Israel, bordered to the west by the Mediterranean, to the south by Egypt, and to the east and north by Israel. The other chunk of Palestinian territory, the West Bank, lies ﬁfty miles away, with Israeli territory in between. Until 1948 there was no “Gaza Strip”; the area around Gaza City was part of a much larger region of British-ruled Palestine known as the Gaza District, which contained scores of Palestinian villages. During the 1948 war a total of 750,000 Arabs ﬂed or were expelled from all over Palestine. About 200,000 The only point of entry from Israel for human trafﬁc is the Erez checkpoint, on Gaza’s northern border. Yet even while making that crossing it’s hard to believe anyone lives on the other side. The only other people passing through with me on a recent visit were a group of British surgeons from the charity IDEALS, their suitcases packed with prosthetic limbs. Inside Gaza, the medieval and the modern seem to coexist, as horses after villages the residents once lived in. A man Emad and I met named Ali Abu Aleish, who lives on Huj Street, produced documents showing that his family owned land that is now part of an estate constructed by Ariel Sharon, the deceased former prime minister of Israel. In view of Gazans’ daily struggles, it seems surprising that they have time to think of the past. But it is precisely because of recent wars that memories of 1948 have been strengthened. The bombardment of Gaza in 2014 caused people to feel that a “second Nakba” was occurring. I ﬁrst heard the phrase soon after that war from an old man named Abu Ibrahim, who was sitting on the pile of rubble that had recently been his home. His family had herded sheep around Beersheba for centuries, and in the war of 1948 they were forced to ﬂee, ﬁrst living in a tent, then building a house near Gaza’s border, from which they could see their old land. He showed me an urn his mother had carried on her head from Beersheba; the urn had survived the ﬁrst and second Nakba, he said proudly. Ali Hassan/Anadolu/Getty Images On November 11, 2017, the gray streets of Gaza suddenly turned yellow as tens of thousands of people came out to wave the ﬂag of Fatah, the party of their former leader Yasser Arafat. This was the thirteenth anniversary of Arafat’s death, and, for the ﬁrst time since 2007, when the Islamic resistance movement Hamas defeated Fatah in the bloody civil war that followed Hamas’s electoral victory the previous year, it had permitted a public commemoration of Arafat Day. By allowing the celebration, Hamas had given the ﬁrst substantial sign that it was serious about a new reconciliation deal, signed with Fatah in October. According to the agreement, the more moderate Palestinian faction, led by Mahmoud Abbas, which rules in the West Bank, would also assume local administrative control inside Gaza. With such a prospect, the people of Gaza hoped that Israel might be persuaded to lift the siege of the territory, which was meant to isolate Hamas and had the effect of punishing all Gazans for having voted for the party, which Israel, the United States, and the European Union consider a terrorist organization. Some Gazans have dared to hope the deal might even pave the way for tentative new discussions about wider peace. A carnival atmosphere took hold across the besieged strip during the commemoration, with children selling sweets and cakes. As the crowds packed into a central square, leaders of Hamas and Fatah promised to end their division and ﬁnd unity. The people cheered but seemed fearful, too: after such a long time they were once again putting battered trust in their leadership to try to bring a resolution to the conﬂict with Israel. An eighty-nineyear-old woman named Aisha waved her yellow ﬂag, tears in her eyes: “I can’t breathe,” she declared, “but I can cry.” The sudden joyous outpouring reminded some of the euphoria that erupted in 1993, after Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel’s prime minister, signed the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn. But as Gazans know, Oslo failed to address what many of them believe was the root cause of the conﬂict between Israelis and Palestinians: the dispossession of Palestinians during the Arab–Israeli war of 1948, during which the Jewish state was created. Oslo proposed to reverse Israel’s illegal land seizures of 1967, offering a “two-state solution,” with the Palestinian state constructed out of Gaza and the West Bank, joined by a safe passage across Israel, and East Jerusalem as its capital. But the negotiators did not address the long-standing claim of Palestinian refugees that they have a right to return home. Nowhere is that right as deeply felt as it is in Gaza, which holds the highest concentration of Palestinian refugees, many living within a few miles of their pre-1948 homes. I Mohamed Shuman playing music near the wreckage of his family’s house, Gaza City, June 2015 of those living in the south sought refuge in the Gaza City area, which Egypt had seized during the war. In December 1948 the United Nations passed UN Resolution 194, stating that the Palestinians should have the right to return to their homes, but Israel’s ﬁrst prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, refused, saying that Palestinians would “never return.” Within a few years Israel had erased almost every Arab village in the former Gaza District. “The old will die and the young will forget,” Ben- Gurion is said to have declared. The Arabs of Palestine, however, have not forgotten the events of 1948, which they refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe, and they have been working harder in recent years than ever before to preserve the memory of their lost homes. Ben-Gurion also expressed the hope that the refugees would move away from camps near Israel’s border and disperse into Arab countries, but while some did move away, most have stayed in order to be close to their land. The original 200,000 refugees who ﬂed to Gaza now number up to an estimated 1.7 million. (Each descendant of a refugee is also classiﬁed by the UN as a refugee.) And with them in the Strip live another 300,000 Palestinians, indigenous to Gaza. Today more than two million people live in Gaza, which is surrounded by walls and fences patrolled by Israeli soldiers. Israeli drones ﬁll the skies above, its gunboats patrol the sea. On Gaza’s southern border is the Rafah crossing into Egypt, usually closed because Egypt has cooperated with Israel’s siege. and carts crowd the streets along with cars and trucks, while children in pristine uniforms pour out of schools. A new UN school is built each month in order to accommodate the population growth. In the middle-class Rimal area, students speaking into mobile phones struggle to be heard over hawkers selling wares. Shops seem well stocked, but prosperity is an illusion, since many of the luxury goods have been smuggled through tunnels from Egypt and hardly anyone can afford them. Thundering generators struggle to provide emergency power as Gaza itself struggles to survive the siege while still rebuilding after recent wars. The Israeli assault of 2014 lasted ﬁfty-one days and killed 2,200 people, including ﬁve hundred children, as well as destroying thousands of homes, schools, water plants, and hospitals. Israel lost sixty-six soldiers and seven civilians during the conﬂict. The UN says that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Sitting on stones by the seafront with Emad, my twentyﬁve-year-old Palestinian driver, we could see why: raw sewage was pouring out into the water, the electricity cuts having crippled the sewage system. Emad pointed out that the stones we were sitting on carried the names of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. He was sitting on Majdal, where his family came from. He looked up the coast to the swinging cranes of the thriving Israeli port city Ashkelon, built on the spot were Majdal once stood. I was sitting on a stone named Huj, a village just a few miles from Gaza. Many areas and streets in Gaza are named brahim’s reference to the second Nakba was echoed up and down Gaza. The destroyed houses, the panicked ﬂight, the tents in which the homeless had to live—these have reminded many of what happened seventy years ago. In the aftermath of the 1948 war, the refugee tragedy caused headlines and protests around the world, but the story soon faded from view. The Israeli government told the world that Palestinians had ﬂed their villages of their own accord or on orders from Arab armies that wanted them out of the way. There was no obligation on Israel, therefore, to let Palestinians return, since, according to this argument, their displacement was not Israel’s responsibility. Any “inﬁltrators” who tried to go back were criminals, and they were shot or put in prison. With the US standing behind the new Jewish state, Palestinian accounts of 1948 were too often ignored. In the late 1980s Israel’s so-called new historians, most notably Benny Morris, examined newly opened Israeli archives and found no evidence that the refugees had ﬂed on orders from Arab leaders, but had done so mostly out of terror after hearing reports of massacres carried out by Israeli soldiers in villages such as Deir Yassin, where Jewish militiamen killed over 150 Palestinian civilians. Ilan Pappé, another of Israel’s new historians, went further, identifying what he called a plan of “ethnic cleansing.” By this time, however, Israel’s ofﬁcial narrative of 1948 was so entrenched that the voices of these new historians were barely heeded by politicians, and in the 1990s it was considered impossible to secure Israeli support for the Palestinian right of return. Even Arafat agreed to set it aside during the Oslo talks. Today many Palestinian analysts blame Arafat, as well as Israeli and Western The New York Review In Gaza more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of twentyﬁve, and it is among the young that the deepest despair often takes root. Some are turning to radical Islam, others to drugs. As many as eighty suicides are reported in Gaza each month, according to local aid groups, many among the young. Most of Gaza’s younger generation have nevertheless remained remarkably resilient, preparing against the odds for a better future, while also making an effort to learn about their past. Earlier this year I encountered this resilience at a Gaza girls’ school, where I met with a class of seventeen-yearolds preparing for ﬁnal exams. All had plans to study further in order to become doctors, social workers, journalists, and lawyers—“anything that helps Sarah Helm negotiators, for Oslo’s failure, warning that a newly uniﬁed Palestinian leadership will not remain uniﬁed for long if it doesn’t insist on addressing the right of return in any new peace talks. “During the Oslo process the right of return was relegated as if a mere irritant, not a fundamental human right,” said Ramzy Baroud, the son of a 1948 Gaza refugee, editor of The Palestine Chronicle and author of the forthcoming book The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story.* “The collapse of the peace process and the failure of Oslo brought the right of return back to the center.” In Israel, however, where the policies of the extreme right-wing have received endorsement from Donald Trump, particularly through his stunning recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the prospects of putting a Palestinian !%$# !-47*;-4&38.(.5&8*)8-*)*2.7*4+ 6*1.,.43&3)8-*&):*384+&5*&(*+91 7*(91&6.>*),14'&1:.11&,*-&:*7**3 8-*1&788;4)*(&)*7(43+493)8-*.6 56*).(8.437*3?.6&6)C72.2*8.( 8-*46=.7&0*=8493)*678&3).3,8-* 3*;(-&11*3,*7547*)'=496;461) 4+6*796,*38:.41*3(*&3)5196&1.78.( (91896*7&3)86&).8.437.6&6)749,-8 84*<51&.3-4;8-*9)*4-6.78.&33&66&8.:**<547*7&+493).3, PXUGHUDWWKHRULJLQRIKXPDQFLYLOL]DWLRQDQGGHP\VWLÀHVWKH EORRG\VDFULÀFHVRIDUFKDLFUHOLJLRQV0HDQZKLOHKLVERRN 6DFULÀFHDUHDGLQJRIFRQÁLFWDQGVDFULÀFLDOUHVROXWLRQLQWKH9HGLF 6&-2&3&779,,*7878-&82.2*8.(8-*46=C7.37.,-87&1746*743&8* ;.8-7*:*6&1343$*78*636*1.,.497&3)75.6.89&186&).8.437!-.7 :4192*(411*(87*3,&,*2*387;.8-.6&6)'=7(-41&674+9)&.72 -6.78.&3.8=71&2.3)9.72&3)9))-.72&3)7.89&8*78-*2 ;.8-.3(438*2546&6=8-*414,=5-.14745-=&3)6*1.,.497789).*7 ■■5&5*6■ 5,7 Palestinians posing for selﬁes on a pier by the Mediterranean Sea, Gaza City, March 2017 right of return on a negotiating table seem more unlikely than ever; the mere mention of it is enough to destroy the possibility of a rapprochement. Even the dovish Yossi Beilin, an architect of Oslo, says the two-state approach remains the only option: “The right of return will never happen. All this talk of ’48 is a mood, not an opinion.” Some Palestinians agree with Beilin. “Palestinians always claimed their rights to historical Palestine,” said Ghassan Khatib, professor of politics at Birzeit University in the West Bank. “Then someone came along and convinced them that this was utopian and would not happen, offering a trade-off to go for the possible instead. Now people realize the possible and the impossible are both impossible, so they might as well stick to the impossible. But they have no strategy, no plan.” Gaza’s own “new historians,” however, like Salman Abu Sitta, founder of the Palestine Land Society, which maps pre-war Palestine, say the prospects are not hopeless. “The conﬂict began in 1948, not 1967. It cannot be solved without returning to the root cause,” said Abu Sitta, who ﬂed the Gaza District as a child. And there is a Palestinian plan, he said, which is to win back ground in the narrative war by challenging Israel’s version of the 1948 war. A form of peaceful resistance, this campaign of retrieving the facts is already well underway, he said, largely thanks to the younger generation of Palestinians. *To be published by Pluto in February 2018 (distributed by University of Chicago Press). January 18, 2018 free Gaza,” as one said. I asked how many had lost family in the war, and at least ten hands shot up. “Why did Balfour give away our land?” asked one girl, referring to the declaration made in 1917 by Arthur Balfour, then British foreign secretary, pledging to create in Palestine a Jewish homeland. “Why did the world not implement UN Resolution 194 [the Palestinian right of return]?” “Why should I be a refugee when my land is one kilometer away?” Their teacher explained to me that schools were placing more emphasis than ever on teaching history, studying the pre-1948 villages and the Nakba, since it helped the children understand the present. “They have lived through three wars”—in 2008, 2012, and 2014. “They want to understand how this can be. Their parents don’t have answers but if they can learn their story from the beginning they can make their own minds up and ﬁnd connections to the present.” The teacher herself had lost her father in the most recent war. “He survived 1948 but was killed in 2014,” she said. Many of the young are profoundly disillusioned with Palestinian politics, openly scorning the “old men,” as they call leaders of both Hamas and Fatah who have failed to ﬁnd solutions for their generation, preoccupied instead with internal squabbles. Despite the unity displayed on Arafat Day, few young Gazans believe the reconciliation agreement will hold, saying that the only way to bring Palestinians together is around the issue of 1948. “At a popular level Palestinians everywhere including citizens of Israel are resurrecting these ’48 values in response " ,QWHOOHFWXDO6DFULÀFHDQG2WKHU0LPHWLF 3DUDGR[HV.7&3&((49384+&414 .*,49''.4C78;*38==*&6.38*11*(89&1 /4963*=8-649,-8-*8;.787&3)89637 4+.6&6)C72.2*8.(8-*46=!-*&98-46 &3&1=>*75-.14745-=&3)6*1.,.43&7 A*3*2=7.78*67B*3,&,*).3&3*3)1*77 FRPSHWLWLYHVWUXJJOHDQGLGHQWLÀHVWKH .38*11*(89&175&(*;-*6*8-.76.:&16=(&3 *.8-*6'*5*65*89&8*)46(42*84&5&6&)4<.(&16*74198.43*,4*7 4384*<5146*845.(76&3,.3,+642&6,92*387+468-**<.78*3(*4+4) 842.2*8.(8-*46=C75478&38.&31*,&(=541.8.(&1.251.(&8.437&3) (&5&(.8=+46.)*38.+=.3,*54(-&15-*342*3&79(-&78-*(6.7.74+ 8-*7*1+.354591&6(91896*9''.4(43(19)*7'=&):4(&8.3,+46&3 *3(4938*6'*8;**32.2*8.(8-*46=&3)(438*2546&6=5-.14745-.(&1 KHUPHQHXWLFV³DQHQFRXQWHULQZKLFKHDFKDSSURDFKEHQHÀWVDQG .7*36.(-*)'=8-*6*7496(*74+8-*48-*6!-*:4192*+*&896*7& 56*:.4971=9359'1.7-*)1*88*6'=*3?.6&6)438-*6*1&8.437-.5 '*8;**35-.14745-=&3)6*1.,.43 ■ ■5&5*6■ 5,7 '= %!# '= 6,0216,0216( 11'4407.38-* 89).*7 LQ9LROHQFH0LPHVLVDQG 91896*7*6.*7&6*&174 &:&.1&'1*&7*4407 ■ 06835(6625* 25 to divisions of their leadership. It is an issue that uniﬁes everyone,” said Ramzy Baroud. Talking of 1948 certainly uniﬁes Gazan families as they live under siege. In Shati refugee camp, power cuts force families to sit together in the dark, often passing the time by listening to a grandparent describing life in his or her old village, which appears so much better than life today. “In summer I ran into the long grass or lay in the cool orange groves,” said Fatmeh Tarqash as her children and grandchildren listened. “In winter we built a ﬁre and took the embers indoors for warmth.” Fatmeh’s grandchildren have nowhere to run today. In winter the asbestosroofed homes in the camps are cold and damp, and in summer the walls sweat. Fatmeh’s twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who works with people whose hearing has been impaired by explosions, listened carefully, and then exclaimed: “They grew their own food. They were self-sufﬁcient. But today we must be beggars.” She pointed angrily to a UN food box. When the electricity to the house suddenly came back on she showed me her family’s old village on Google Earth. Would she settle for a two-state solution? “No. If they give us part of the land back, they will expect us to be grateful to them. Why should we be? It’s ours.” Gazans have a new tool in their campaign to raise awareness about their dispossession: the Internet has allowed them to bring their erased villages back to life by posting photographs of documents and land deeds. Gaza’s “new historians” are also journalists who contribute to the Electronic Intifada and other burgeoning Palestinian news sites. A young journalist, who didn’t wish to be named, ﬁlms close to Gaza’s northern border and streams his footage of Gazan ﬁshermen being monitored by Israeli gunboats as they haul in a catch. “We live in a box,” he told me. “A fake place. We want to show people what it’s really like and not rely on others to tell our story.” New technology also allows the young to look to the future. At the Islamic University of Gaza, architecture students redesigned their ancestral villages as futuristic cities for a competition to be judged in London. One showed a Palestinian town that had been destroyed in 1948 rebuilt with skyscrapers and huge highways. A month later I saw the ﬁnalists’ drawings posted on the wall of a London art gallery, where the participants joined us from the West Bank and Gaza via Skype. Talk of construction rather than destruction was moving, but these futuristic designs for Palestine after “the return” seemed fanciful. It is unlikely that construction by Palestinians on land recognized as theirs will begin anytime soon. After all, it is Israel that is carrying out the construction by building settlements across Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel is increasingly intransigent about granting any land at all, even in the West Bank, where illegal settlement continues at speed, as it does in Arab East Jerusalem. Yet some new ideas for a resolution are emerging, particularly among the new generation of Palestinians who talk about a one-state solution with Jews and Arabs living as equals in a single democratic state on all of mandate Palestine. Among Israeli Jews today this prospect seems especially fanciful, but some Israeli radicals predict it must come. Ilan Pappé, speaking in Cambridge recently to launch his new book, The Biggest Prison on Earth, said that the one-state solution was “not an impossible scenario” and that the alternative is for Israel to continue developing as “an apartheid state.” Although the concept of a one-state solution is still in its infancy, we are certain to hear more about it, precisely because the prospects for two states seem dead. The one-state idea is already being discussed within senior ranks of the moderate Palestinian Authority. Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for Mahmoud Abbas, responding to Trump’s Jerusalem move, declared that by recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, Trump had ﬁnally killed the twostate idea, adding: “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historical Palestine from the river to the sea.” There is even a smartphone program called the iNakba app that provides maps indicating where Palestinian villages once were and what Israeli towns might be there now. Driving across Israel to reach Gaza, I used the app as a guide back in time, passing the site of the Palestinian village of Yibneh, which is now Yavneh. Near the huge Israeli port of Ashdod lie the remains of Isdud, where a Gazan friend of mine, Abu Hasan, once lived. On a recent visit to Gaza he told me how to ﬁnd his house, but it was no longer there. Almost all traces of the Palestinian villages have disappeared. A woman I met in Ashkelon, who had recently emigrated from Ukraine to Israel, had never heard of Majdal, which had been a thriving textile center before 1948. “There were never any Arabs here,” she told me. “It’s a lie.” The iNakba app revealed that the Arab market that still stands in Ashkelon’s Old City was once the main market of Majdal. T here are some signs that Palestinians are gaining ground in their narrative war. They have new allies inside Israel, where a small number of young Jewish Israelis are helping Palestinians excavate their history. A group called Zochrot (“remembering,” in Hebrew), a nonproﬁt organization formed in 2002, aims to “raise awareness of the Palestinian Nakba.” Zochrot devised the iNakba app. Israel’s “ofﬁcial historians” have gone on the defensive, busying themselves with reclassifying sensitive historical ﬁles, held in Israeli archives, relating to 1948. Benny Morris found that among the reclassiﬁed ﬁles were those relating to the massacre at Deir Yassin. Morris ﬁrst saw the documents in the 1980s, but said that “the Defense Ministry offered no explanation” for why they have been reclassiﬁed. Whatever small gains the Palestinians are making in their narrative war, however, they are under no illusion about the monumental task they face if their objectives are ever to be achieved. At a café in Gaza, the author Dr. Mohammed Bugi expressed skepticism. “We need a new Mandela,” said Bugi, recently banned from traveling to Amman to promote his new 26 book on pre-1948 Yibneh. “And a new de Klerk,” said Fayez Sersawi, an artist whose studio was bombed in 2014. “Now they are trying to crush our culture and shut our history down. The Nakba has never stopped. The patterns just repeat themselves.” At Rafah, a border town on Gaza’s southern tip, the repeated patterns of the conﬂict are highly visible. Camps here are named after the old villages— Yibneh, Isdud, and Huj—and have been regularly bombed in recent times, just as the villages were in 1948. Rafah’s streets are full of posters of martyrs; its camps have always produced the most determined resisters, including suicide bombers. Many of them— including some who were responsible for the carnage across Israel during the Second Intifada, which erupted in 2000 in the despair that followed Oslo’s collapse—were descendants of those who arrived in 1948. Close to the Egyptian border, where the Sinai sands sweep into Gaza, small plastic shelters cover openings of tunnels being dug into Egypt, though in recent months Israel has begun working on a new underground wall, sunk deep into the desert, to block off such tunnels. Nearby on Rafah’s beach is a jumble of shacks, home to ﬁshermen, descendants of villagers from Jura, once a thriving ﬁshing community just up the coast. History is about to repeat itself for the people of Jura whose refugee dwellings lie in the path of bulldozers clearing the area to create a wider buffer zone. Most residents of Rafah, so exposed here on the border, have suffered too much as a result of the conﬂict to wave ﬂags for Arafat or anyone else. Those I spoke to did not express hope for the near future, often saying in chilling terms that “something worse than the Nakba” is about to happen. And yet they also know that in Gaza a change of mood—too easily dismissed by Yossi Beilin—can be the harbinger of change. When the mood in Gaza changed in 1987, it led to the First Intifada, which in turn led to the ﬁrst moves toward peace negotiations. Even in Rafah the renewed attention being given to the Nakba has also spread a kind of conﬁdence, a sense that one day the refugees’ story will be known and the injustice they have suffered recognized. The very fact that evidence of the Nakba is now preserved online, the history now already widely available, has contributed to this conﬁdence. While in Rafah I visited my friend Abu Hasan, whose erased village I had searched for on my drive to Gaza, and I told him I’d failed to ﬁnd his house. He was not surprised, but expressed the view that the Nakba would not be forgotten. He had just completed his own history of his village. “How can our Nakba—our catastrophe—be forgotten? For us it continues every day,” he said. “What would you think if you were told you had to leave your home one day and suddenly abandon everything you’d ever loved and known and never go back. Would you forget?” Was he still expecting to go back to Isdud? “I go back every night. In my dreams I go back and play among the trees and chase the birds. Perhaps I won’t go back myself. I’m very old. And Isdud won’t be like I knew it. But Palestinians will go back one day, I’m sure.” —December 20, 2017 The New York Review Divine Lust Andrew Butterﬁeld In a career lasting more than seventy years Michelangelo reigned supreme in every art: sculpture, painting, architecture, drawing, poetry. So absolute was his mastery, and so Olympian were his creations, that he seemed more than mortal to his contemporaries. They called him “divine,” said his works were the most sublime ever made, even greater than those of antiquity, and used a new term, terribilità, to describe the awesome majesty of his art. His titanic creativity can never be fully conveyed within the conﬁnes of a museum exhibition. His greatest masterpieces, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome and the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo in Florence, must be experienced at their sites, and even the works that can be moved are deemed so precious that they are rarely loaned; some never are. While there have been exhibitions on parts of Michelangelo’s life and oeuvre, few museums have tried to outline the broad sweep of his inexhaustible artistry. Yet that is exactly what “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art sets out to accomplish. It covers the entire career of the artist, from his ﬁrst extant drawings made while he was a teenager to works created shortly before his death at eighty- eight in 1564. The heart of the exhibition is a selection of 133 of his drawings, the largest group of them ever displayed at one time. It also includes his earliest painting, one late architectural model, and three of his sculptures, from very different points in his life. Michelangelo’s activity as a poet is included as well, with two manuscripts in his own hand of his very moving sonnets; these add signiﬁcantly to our understanding of the artist. Brilliantly curated by Carmen Bambach, a scholar of drawings at the Metropolitan, and beautifully presented by the museum’s exhibition and lighting designers, this is likely the ﬁnest show on the artist any of us will ever see. The material is arranged mainly in chronological order, but this is meant to do more than merely tell the familiar story of Michelangelo’s career. His fame as the greatest artist of all time both trapped and liberated him. For almost his entire life he was compelled by rulers to slave away on their pet projects, yet he was more free than anyone before him to make art in any style he willed, and to devise new imagery wholly of his own choosing. His works have a deeply personal character January 18, 2018 he intended to paint on a wall of the Great Council Hall in the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, but was unable to execute owing to demands from other patrons. Although the cartoon does not survive, many of his preparatory studies for it do, and the exhibition brings together a selection of them plus an early painted copy. These show nude or nearly naked men, rendered with great anatomical accuracy and portrayed in taut and twisting poses. One particularly beautiful image from this group is a Study of the Torso of a Male Nude Seen from the Back. Here Michelangelo demonstrates ab- matter this was. To be sure, only a few years before, Luca Signorelli had ﬁlled his frescoes in the cathedral of Orvieto with naked bodies, but those ﬁgures seem to be made of dirty and mortal ﬂesh, while Michelangelo’s exult in triumphant and noble beauty. As he worked on the cartoon, the artist began planning other major paintings and sculptures, principally for Pope Julius II. The ﬁrst was the pontiff’s tomb, which Michelangelo originally designed to be a colossal monument, ringed with as many as forty-seven massive marble sculptures. This project was to bedevil him for forty years, and ﬁnally end with a wretched wall tomb in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, best known for the artist’s statue of Moses at its center. As the drawings shown here demonstrate, from the start the commission inspired Michelangelo perhaps prophetically to imagine statues of heroic men, bound and struggling for freedom. Another commission of Julius II was the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which the artist completed in 1512. At the Metropolitan, the studies for the painting appear out of historical sequence; they are grouped together in a gallery two rooms away from where they would appear according to a more strict chronology. This disrupts the crucial continuity of these drawings with those of The Battle of Cascina and Julius’s tomb. Seemingly this was done so these sheets could be shown below a large glowing photograph of the Sistine fresco, hung from the ceiling of the muMichelangelo: Studies for Adam in the Fresco the Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, seum. At ﬁrst glance this brightly red chalk, 7 5/8 x 10 3/16 inches, 1511 illuminated picture may seem distracting, but it allows the spectator solute control of every element of after frescoes by Giotto and Masacto understand the place of the sketched draftsmanship. The depiction of the cio, these sheets reveal the penetrating ﬁgures in relation to their intended lomusculature is of astonishing subtlety, study of Florentine masters that lay at cation in the overall scheme, and to and the fall of lights and darks across the foundation of his art, and also his grasp that the sublime ﬁnished whole the skin is so ﬁnely graded that the enprecocious conﬁdence in his own sense was the result of countless preparatory tire ﬁgure seems to throb with life. Reof form. He not only imitates but also studies of every detail, which Michelanmarkable too is the undulating line that corrects his celebrated predecessors. gelo drew with obsessive abandon. runs around the contours of the body. For instance, his Study after Saint The arc of the artist’s life changed This varies continuously in thickness Peter by Masaccio, drawn perhaps signiﬁcantly following this zenith. In and tone, adding signiﬁcantly to the around 1490, looks more like a powerthe remaining ﬁfty years of his career, sense of quickening vitality. Each of ful sculpture than like the painting he Michelangelo never completed another these effects was new, and their comcopied it from. The saint’s robes billow large-scale work, with the exception of bination so stunned other painters, with stately grace, and his head has the the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chaincluding Raphael, Pontormo, and Ansharp edges and rectangular shape of pel, the frescoes for the Pauline Chapel drea del Sarto, that they obsessively a block of stone; it even bears a strong in the Vatican, and the greatly reduced studied and copied the cartoon. In the resemblance to Michelangelo’s marble tomb for Julius II. This failure was words of Benvenuto Cellini, Michelanportrait of Brutus, made many decades partly the result of political circumgelo’s majestic drawing became “the later, which is exhibited near the end of stance and the competing aims of his school of the world.” the show. Despite the drawing’s monudomineering patrons, and it left him In his great biography of Michelanmentality, there is nothing stiff about it; with a sense of bitter frustration, even gelo, ﬁrst published in 1893 and never the outlines of the ﬁgure are ﬂuid and as his renown grew. surpassed, John Addington Symonds calligraphic. So great is the vitality of Correspondingly, the works on view calls the Battle of Cascina cartoon “the this youthful sheet that by comparison in the exhibition that follow the comcentral point” and the “watershed” of the drawings of his teacher Ghirlandpletion of the Sistine ceiling change the artist’s career. It was the ﬁrst work aio shown nearby look scratchy and dramatically in mood, subject, and in which Michelangelo broke free of ﬂat. intended audience. Whereas previall convention and dedicated himself ously Michelangelo had concentrated to the subject that was to occupy his on creating sculptures and paintings hen you enter the second room the imagination for the rest of his life: the of heroic ﬁgures for public display, he exhibition really takes off. The centermale nude. As Vasari remarked, “the now often composed drawings full of piece of this section is a drawing, but intention of this extraordinary man private meaning and meant for his own remarkably one that was destroyed has been to refuse to paint anything satisfaction and that of a tight circle of more than ﬁve hundred years ago, soon but the human body . . . [and] the play close associates. Two galleries of the after its making. This is Michelangelo’s of the passions and contentments of exhibition are given over to these imgiant cartoon for his fresco The Battle the soul.” It is hard for us to conceive ages from the 1520s and 1530s, and enof Cascina, from around 1506, which how revolutionary a choice of subject tering this section is like crossing into that was unprecedented in the history of art. As Bambach writes, “his drawings, like his sculptures, often exude a certain autobiographical intensity of feeling.” Without ever being tendentious, this grouping of works allows the viewer to begin to see the passion, melancholy, fear, and frustration that drove the artist. The exhibition opens with a long room dedicated to Michelangelo’s youth and brief training in Florence with the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and the sculptor Bertoldo. Nearly all of his few extant drawings from this time are on view. Mostly copies British Museum, London Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, November 13, 2017–February 12, 2018. Catalog of the exhibition by Carmen C. Bambach, with contributions from Claire Barry, Francesco Caglioti, Caroline Elam, Marcella Marongiu, and Mauro Mussolin. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 392 pp., $65.00 (distributed by Yale University Press) W 27 —The Guardian “Gullette argues that pharma and cosmetic companies aren’t catering to the old so much as catering to the ageist idea that getting old is unbearable. [Ending Ageism] grapple[s] thoughtfully [with society’s assaults]. Ageism is further fuelled, Gullette believes, by what she calls the ‘ideology of scarcity’—the trope that the elderly are locusts who swarm the earth consuming all our resources.” —New Yorker “Ending Ageism is arguably Gullette’s most memorable and persuasive work to date...The rallying cry that echoes throughout this book is worth committing to memory: ‘Fight ageism, not aging.’ It is a crucial distinction.” —Tikkun “This is a profoundly engaged, urgent work of the humanist imagination.” —James Clifford, author of Returns 30% off with free shipping in the US. Use code “02GUNY18”. rutgersuniversitypress.org 28 some mysterious domain of dream and fantasy. death I grasp eternal life.” Another poem, not in the exhibition, expresses his disillusionment in even more stinging words. While carving the ﬁerce and he ﬁrst of these rooms features in one tragic Pietà now in the Florentine Cacorner drawings Michelangelo made thedral museum, Michelangelo wrote, as gifts for friends, and in the opposite “In great slavery, with such weariness, corner are studies on themes of birth, and with false concepts and great dandeath, and resurrection. The most spellger to the soul, sculpting here things dibinding of the latter group is an image vine.” Given his anxious discontent, it is from the Casa Buonarroti of the Maperhaps no wonder he later attacked the donna and Child, in which Michelanstatue with a hammer and abandoned it. gelo intentionally left the two ﬁgures in Some of the last ﬁgure drawings starkly different states of ﬁnish. Richly in the exhibition date from just a few drawn in black and red chalk, brown years before Michelangelo’s death and wash, and white heightening, the arm depict the Cruciﬁxion. Softly drawn in and torso of the Child have glowing skin black chalk with weak and wavering and exquisite roundness of lines, these sorrowful imform; He seems to be coming ages look like they are made into being before our eyes. By of shimmering smoke. They contrast, Michelangelo drew seem to depict an unattainthe Madonna in trembling able phantasm, at once eterand wispy lines of sooty black nal and impermanent, and chalk; she looks as if she is beyond the reach of human about to vanish into the air. understanding. In a poem written at the time “Michelangelo: Divine of the drawing, Michelangelo Draftsman and Designer” used comparable imagery: aims at comprehensiveness. “Man’s thoughts and words . . . There are two galleries of his are as . . . smoke to the wind.” architectural drawings, a secHaunting too is the dispartion on his studies for the Last ity of the expressions of the Judgment, and two rooms Madonna and Child. The of his drawings for works inbaby seems utterly content as tended to be executed by his He obliviously nurses at her collaborators. The show conbreast; she stares fearfully cludes with three portraits into the distance, distraught of him, which is ﬁtting as by visions of the horriﬁc the exhibition is itself a kind death He will one day suffer. of portrait, one that is both The drawings Michelanbeautiful and hard to hold gelo made for friends are also onto. This sense of elusivefull of striking contrasts. One ness does not result solely rapturous image portrays a from the sprawling scale of young nobleman, Andrea the presentation; it also arises Quaratesi, who studied with from the art, which often the artist. Michelangelo ususeems to be distancing itself ally disdained lifelike portraifrom the viewer and abounds ture, but this picture seems to with images of ﬁgures in ﬂight Michelangelo: Female Figure Seen in Bust-Length From the Front be a keenly accurate record of or in ascent or turning away. (Cleopatra), black chalk, 9 3/16 x 7 3/16 inches, 1530–1533 the youth’s appearance, and Michelangelo’s art was the expression on his tender often driven by the desire face is sad and sultry. Not long after this to escape the mundane, physical, coryounger than the artist, one might asdrawing was made, the artist’s friend rupt, and sinful world. He burned with sume that he is the youth in the drawSebastiano del Piombo wrote Michelintense passion for the beauty of the ing. Yet Michelangelo’s poetry suggests angelo to advise him to guard against human body and face, but he hoped that the artist actually identiﬁed with “melancholy love that has always ruthat this ardor would transport him to Ganymede. He wrote in a sonnet for ined you.” This delicate portrait is the another realm, one of ideal form and Tommaso, “Though lacking feathers I very image of hopeless infatuation. deathless purity, above and beyond the ﬂy with your wings; with your mind I Nearby are other gift drawings, but of earthly. The incarnate moved him to asam always carried to heaven.” wholly different temperament. In conpire to the uncarnate, the immortal, the During Michelangelo’s lifetime, close trast to the frankness and naturalism of eternal, the fantastical, the impossible: friends reported that his art was full the Quaratesi portrait, they are imagiunbodied beauty. He felt enchained and of “Socratic love and Platonic ideas.” nary pictures of unreal heads in fantastrapped—by his work, by his patrons, There is no doubt he saw his passion for tical clothing. The most celebrated is a by his family, by his lust for beauty, by Tommaso philosophically, as something double-sided sheet depicting Cleopahis sinfulness, by his body, by the limits that transported him from the earthly tra, but this drawing has little to do of the actual—and longed to be carried and ephemeral to the heavenly and with the historical person. On one side away in ecstasy and rapture. eternal. In a madrigal, likely written of the sheet, a slithering snake wraps One can see this in his taste for fanfor the youth, Michelangelo said, “My around her body and bites her breast. tastical and dreamlike subject matter, eyes that ever long for lovely things, my The long braid of the queen’s hair and in his rejection of naturalism for the soul that seeks salvation, cannot rise the tail of the snake ﬂoating off into odd and ideal, in his renunciation of his to heaven unless they ﬁx their gaze on space seem to intertwine in a languorgift for creating drawings of the most beauty.” His friendship with Tommaso ous and sinister dance. The drawing on convincing substantiality, and in his lasted until the end of his days. the other side of the sheet is even more preference instead for drawings that, spectral. Here Michelangelo has given while exquisite, make the body look aln the rooms of works from the 1540s Cleopatra staring eyes and a grotesque most weightless and transparent, as if and 1550s, the desperate ache of spirimouth with fat lips and jutting teeth. composed of radiant dust. And one can tual longing intensiﬁes. Ever an artShe looks frightened and baleful, and hear it in his poetry, in which he often ist, Michelangelo now began to make yet has an odd resemblance to the Malaments his passion for the beguiling ilart about his disenchantment with art. donna in the Casa Buonarroti drawing. lusion of mortal beauty; he wishes he This is especially clear in one of his inMichelangelo made these images of could truly adore God and the sacred, tensely poignant sonnets on view here. Cleopatra for Tommaso del Cavaliere, but cannot feel such love except by “The alluring fantasies of the world,” a young Roman he fell in love with in gazing on the human and earthly. Unit begins, “have robbed from me the 1532. Although apparently never conquenchable desire and certain failure time allotted for contemplating God.” summated, it was a deeply passionate are twisted together in this hopeless The poem ends, “Make me hate all relationship that inspired most of the pursuit. Hence the air of melancholy that the world values, and all its beauartist’s gift drawings as well as much of and sorrow that pervades so much of ties I honor and adore, so that before his poetry. Many of these sheets rephis art. T resent classical myths; others depict fantasy scenes of his own devising. One such sheet shows archers without bows shooting arrows at a herm, another represents babies sacriﬁcing a deer. These are ravishingly beautiful images, but no one is sure what they are meant to convey. The only explicitly homoerotic image Michelangelo gave Tommaso was a drawing of Jupiter in the guise of an eagle carrying Ganymede off to heaven. The original drawing is lost, but to judge from copies the bird seems to thrust his body against the boy’s buttocks as he lifts him upward. Since Tommaso was about thirty- eight years Casa Buonarroti, Florence “[A] stirring new book [from] the pioneering US writer Margaret Morganroth Gullette.” I The New York Review The Red Emperor This fall, the Nineteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gave proof that during his ﬁve years as general secretary Xi Jinping has become the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong died in 1976. Most observers, Chinese and foreign, who already knew this could only have been surprised at the manner in which it was displayed in public at the congress: in the choice of the new leadership team and the designation of an ofﬁcial ideology named for Xi. The CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) consists of the party’s top leaders, and it currently has seven members. In the past, the PSC has been the location of ferocious struggles for power. Mao forced out two deputies who might have succeeded him: Liu Shaoqi, who was denied medical treatment when seriously ill, and Marshal Lin Biao, who was hounded into ﬂeeing the country and died when his plane crashed in circumstances still shrouded in mystery. Even Deng Xiaoping sacked two general secretaries who had gone wobbly on him. Under Xi Jinping, a defeated rival who aspired to PSC membership was tried and imprisoned, and a powerful retiree from the Seventeenth PSC suffered the same fate. The PSC is the pinnacle of the CCP, but going up or down or simply standing still in the party’s upper reaches can be perilous. Fealty to the supreme leader is the surest guarantee of one’s position. At each ﬁve-year congress the PSC is reconstituted. Retirement from it and other leading party bodies is roughly determined by a norm laid down by Deng, who hoped to have regular renewals of leadership and to avoid the spectacle of 1976, when Premier Zhou Enlai (seventy-seven), Marshal Zhu De (eighty-nine), and Chairman Mao (eighty-two) all died while still in ofﬁce. Retirement by age seventy is now the target. The rule of thumb for the PSC has been that you should leave if you have reached sixty- eight at the time of a party congress, but there is a possibility of staying on if you are only sixty-seven. Five members of the eighteenth PSC retired as a result of this norm. Only Xi Jinping (sixty-four) and Premier Li Keqiang (sixty-two) were young enough to retain their positions. But before the recent congress, the Beijing rumor mill was wondering if a third member would be kept on despite the age barrier. The top leadership of the CCP is chosen from—though not by—the twentyﬁve members of the Politburo, which is in turn chosen from, but again not by, the 376 new members and alternate members of the Central Committee (CC), who are chosen from (but not by) the 2,287 delegates to the party congress. In practice, the incumbent general secretary and his closest followers select the compositions of the leading bodies, especially the PSC, after some consultation and perhaps argument with peers and predecessors. So while the members of the Eighteenth PSC were chosen by Xi’s predecessors, the Nineteenth PSC is his creation. Since Xi loyalists headed the CC’s General Ofﬁce, its nerve center, and the OrganizaJanuary 18, 2018 Siegfried Woldhek Roderick MacFarquhar tion Department, his capacity to detect and select trustworthy colleagues for the Nineteenth PSC was guaranteed. T he main concern of outside observers was whether or not the most trustworthy member of the outgoing PSC would be allowed to defy the age limit because of his importance to Xi. During the past ﬁve years, Wang Qishan, sixty-nine, a long-term colleague of the general secretary’s, led the CCP’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission running Xi’s very determined, thorough, and much-heralded anticorruption campaign.1 According to the commission’s report to the recent congress, of the 74,880 nomenklatura ofﬁcials—i.e., those whose careers were the CC’s responsibility—at the county level and above who were investigated after Wang took ofﬁce in 2012, 280 were at the ministerial level or above. Over 35,000 corruption cases have been handed over to the judicial system for formal decision on punishment. Of the CCP’s almost 90 million members, 1,375,000 have been penalized for breaking party discipline, some doubtless for ignoring the party’s banqueting limit of “four dishes and a soup.”2 Xi was satisﬁed enough with the campaign to declare earlier this year that it had stopped corruption from spreading and had developed a “crushing momentum” against graft. So why did he not keep Wang on? The least likely speculation is that he was not 1 See Andrew J. Nathan, “China: The Struggle at the Top,” The New York Review, February 9, 2017. 2 Some sources have suggested that the meal might include braised chicken, stir-fried pork, a stew, fried garlic shoots with chrysanthemum stems, and pork and melon soup. strong enough to buck the age seventy rule. Xi is ﬁrst above equals. Retaining Wang should not have been a heavy lift. Was there anything in the charge of corruption leveled against Wang by the fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui from his luxury New York apartment? Guo had had close ties to a purged senior Chinese security ofﬁcial, and his allegations were much discussed by the Beijing chattering classes. But after he was visited twice in New York by Chinese security ofﬁcials operating illegally on American territory, Guo failed to live up to his promise of revealing more at a press conference in New York during the Nineteenth Congress. Other rumors circulated. When Wang disappeared from view for several weeks earlier in the year, there was talk of cancer. Or was that only a face-saving excuse for his forced retirement? Then he turned up at some formal occasions looking much the same as ever, so that speculation ended. A more likely possibility is that retaining Wang would send a signal that Xi intended to stay on as leader after the conclusion of his current second term. It has been widely noted that although Xi was given posts that marked him as the CCP ’s future leader well in advance of his actual installation, he has ensured that the new leadership contains no obvious successor. So does he intend to emulate Mao and stay on into old age, which would be unprecedented in the post-Deng era? If that is Xi’s long-term plan, then he is presumably not yet conﬁdent enough to make that ﬁnal leap into immortality. So in place of Wang, he has promoted another close ally, Zhao Leji, director of the CC ’s Organization Department, to the PSC , where he will take over the anti- corruption campaign. Alongside Zhao, Xi also promoted his principal loyalist in the CC , the head of the General Ofﬁce, Li Zhanshu, who enters the PSC at number three in this hierarchically organized body. T he second-ranking member in the new PSC is Premier Li Keqiang, who held the same position in the previous committee. But in the past ﬁve years he has been humiliatingly overshadowed by President Xi, who has taken the chair of economic committees that Li should have led. The premier clearly lacks the self- conﬁdence and forceful personality that enabled Premier Zhu Rongji to take charge of the economy when Jiang Zemin was general secretary. Li would be better suited to the one remaining high-ranking but ceremonial post, the vice-presidency, which will be decided in the spring, though some think Xi is holding that ofﬁce for Wang Qishan. Li’s fate was not a topic of the Beijing rumor mill because his subordinate role is widely perceived. One cruel comment from a Chinese intellectual was: “Does it matter?” While Wang Qishan’s fate was the focus of much speculation, the most intriguing change in the membership of the PSC was the promotion into it of Wang Huning (no relation), who was the ﬁrst genuine intellectual to gain this honor. Wang is from Shanghai, where he was a graduate student and later a very young professor at the prestigious Fudan University. After receiving recommendations from Shanghai party leaders, Wang was recruited by then general secretary Jiang Zemin for the Central Policy Research Ofﬁce. By the end of Jiang’s term in 2002, Wang had helped him devise his theory of “three represents” and had risen to become director of the ofﬁce. He was retained by the incoming general secretary, Hu Jintao, who recognized his talent and whom he accompanied on foreign trips, and Wang helped write Hu’s theory of the scientiﬁc outlook on development. Both the theory of three represents and the scientiﬁc outlook on development have become ofﬁcial party doctrine. After Hu retired, Wang made himself indispensable to Xi, joining him too on international trips. He has now been appointed head of the party’s central secretariat in addition to his PSC membership. Yet unlike most other senior leaders, he has never run a province or a government department. Wang is not so much an opportunist as a Kissinger-type intellectual whose wisdom every new leader feels he has to exploit. In his academic days he published widely. A six-month visit to the US resulted in a book, America Against America, that probed the contradictions within American society. One Chinese bookseller is taking advantage of Wang’s meteoric rise to offer a copy of his 1995 diary/ memoir, A Political Life (Zhengzhide rensheng), published on the eve of his move to Beijing, for 11,888 yuan (almost $1,800). One of the themes Wang advocated in his writings was “new authoritarianism”; his emphasis on the need for strong leadership and 29 #!"$-$'%() “A pleasure to read. . . . Building the American Republic tells the story of the United States with remarkable grace and skill, its fast-moving narrative making the nation’s struggles and accomplishments new and compelling.” —Edward L. Ayers, University of Richmond “Written by two leading political historians, Building the American Republic provides an engaging and accessible narrative of US history that combines a lucid discussion of American political institutions with an analysis of major social movements and cultural developments.” —Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University AN Narrative ti History Hi t tto 1877 +DUU\/:DWVRQ !# &CPPL 1BQFS " """ # 30 The New York Review "&*#,#*+')-' %)# Now more than ever, we need informed citizens who can bring a thorough knowledge of America’s history to community life and our political process. Taking a deliberately multifaceted and inclusive stance, Harry L. Watson and Jane Dailey tell a stimulating story that will give readers a deeper understanding of America’s past and present. A Narrative History from 1877 -DQH'DLOH\ !# &CPPL 1BQFS January 18, 2018 ^^^WYLZZ\JOPJHNVLK\ 31 his aversion to introducing Western democracy to China doubtless helped endear him to Xi. 3 A t number four in the new pecking order, just above Wang Huning, is Wang Yang, a very different kind of man. From 2007 to 2012, Wang Yang ran China’s richest province, Guangdong, on the border with Hong Kong, gaining a reputation as a determined and innovative economic reformer. He was widely praised for peacefully resolving an uprising by villagers in Wukan against party cadres who had sold their land from under them, though his settlement was abandoned under his successor. Already in the Politburo when Xi came to power in 2012, Wang was transferred from his provincial post to the central government as a vice-premier overseeing parts of the economy. In his new position, Wang Yang created a sensation among Western journalists in July 2013 when he met Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in Washington at the annual economic summit between the US and China. Wang compared the Sino-US relationship to a marriage with both parties building trust and cooperation. “In China when we say a pair of new people, we mean a newlywed couple. Although US law does permit marriage between two men, I don’t think this is what Jacob or I actually want. We cannot have a di3 Zhengzhide rensheng, pp. 129–135. I am grateful to Rudolf Wagner for pinpointing this segment of Wang’s book on the Internet. vorce the way Wendi and Rupert Murdoch just had. . . . For that, it would be too big a price to pay.”4 Xi Jinping does not seem the kind of leader who would appreciate Wang’s sense of humor. But if Xi gives him some room, Wang may be the man to arrange a successful marriage between state- owned enterprises and the private sector, which would enable Xi to see his long-promised but so far undelivered economic reform program come to fruition. Shortly after his elevation to the PSC, Wang wrote in the ofﬁcial newspaper, People’s Daily, that China should improve the business environment for foreign investors and widen access to its services sector. In a further gesture toward foreign businessmen, he stated that China should protect intellectual property, should not require technology transfer as a condition of gaining market access, and should treat domestic and foreign ﬁrms equally in government procurement. Of course, such words have been uttered before by Chinese spokesmen, and Western observers are understandably skeptical that Wang will actually make it easier for foreign businesses to operate in China. On the other hand, it is difﬁcult to imagine Xi allowing him to make such a statement if it meant as little today as it did in the past. The lowest-ranked member of the new PSC is Shanghai party secretary Han Zheng. Some say his presence on the committee, along with Wang Huning’s, was a concession to former 4 “US-China Relationship Like a (Straight) Marriage—China’s Wang,” Reuters, July 10, 2013. James Turrell 0XQVRQfrom6WLOO/LJKW, 1989–90 Aquatint, 42 1/2 x 29 5/8 inches, Ed. 30 hirambutler.com 32 general secretary Jiang Zemin, who controlled a faction in Shanghai—the Shanghai “gang”—where he was once party secretary, while Li Keqiang and Wang Yang were concessions to the Youth League faction of Hu Jintao, who had once been ﬁrst secretary of the Youth League. Although factional connections go deep in Chinese politics, it seems unlikely that Xi Jinping could establish his supremacy so clearly at the Nineteenth Congress and still have to accept colleagues allied with his predecessors. Before the congress, for instance, Xi took decisive institutional moves against the Youth League, once the powerful junior partner of the CCP ; unprecedentedly, its party secretary was not even allowed to be a congress delegate. In case any of his new colleagues did not understand who was boss, Xi reemphasized his commanding position at the ﬁrst meeting of the Politburo, at which it was decreed that all members had to write reports to the general secretary every year detailing their activities. It seems more likely that Han Zheng is in the PSC because Shanghai, as the biggest and richest city in China, deserves representation at the top, but we shall know more when we see how Xi deploys him. E ven more impressive than the team that Xi has put together to help him lead China is the additional status he has conferred upon himself. Today in China, the CCP general secretary is also chairman of the party’s Military Affairs Commission and president of the People’s Republic. While the presidency gives Chinese leaders equal status in diplomatic encounters with foreign leaders, the chairmanship underlines the fact that the People’s Liberation Army belongs to the party, not the nation, as armies do almost everywhere else in the world. No Chinese leader is likely to ignore Mao’s famous dictum: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” At the beginning of his ﬁrst term, in addition to taking on the leadership of powerful economic committees, Xi also made himself head of committees on national security and foreign affairs. During the past ﬁve years, Xi was accorded two additional honors. He was declared the “core” of the party’s leadership, a seemingly redundant title except for its historical resonance. In 1997, Jiang Zemin was seventy- one and was challenged to retire by an even older contemporary. But it was pointed out by a surviving party elder that Deng Xiaoping had granted Jiang the title, and that this meant he could not retire just then. The challenger had to go, but Jiang served another term as general secretary, retiring only in 2002, when he was seventy-six. This could be a precedent that Xi will exploit in due course. Xi was also named commander-inchief, a title that only Zhu De, Mao’s military alter ego during the revolution, could claim. Presumably it was meant to show that Xi, who inspected the parade commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of the PLA this year in military fatigues, was not just a civilian chairing the generals in the Military Affairs Commission but a soldier too, ready to command troops in battle. How the generals on the Military Affairs Commission have taken this is uncertain, 5 but some observers argue that Xi’s sweeping restructuring of the military over the past two years will ensure the loyalty of newly promoted generals.6 But both these titles were dwarfed by the reference to Xi Jinping in the new party constitution passed at the congress: The Communist Party of China uses Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientiﬁc Outlook on Development, and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as its guides to action. With those few words, Xi leapt over Deng, whose opening up and reform were crucial to China’s spectacular economic growth over the past thirty-ﬁve years, but who only had a theory; and over his two predecessors, who had a theory or an outlook but whose names are never listed beside them. Xi is now up there with Mao, his most daring claim thus far. As Mao did, he likes to lace his speeches with quotations from the Chinese classics, though he uses them to underline points of current policy, not to bewilder his less well-read colleagues, which Mao seemed to delight in doing. An enterprising Chinese journalist has sifted through Xi’s speeches and collected examples of this practice.7 A quotation from The Analects in which Confucius answers one of his pupils that “if you were to lead the people correctly, who would not be rectiﬁed?” enables Xi to urge party leaders to act as exemplars. Stressing the need for many talented and able ofﬁcials in order for China to achieve his aim of national rejuvenation, he quoted The Book of Poetry, an anthology of lyrics from the eleventh to the seventh centuries BCE : “Admirable are the many ofﬁcers born in this royal kingdom. The royal kingdom is able to produce them, the supporters of [the House of] Zhou. Numerous is the array of ofﬁcers, and by them King Wen enjoys his repose.” Xi, commenting, said that to “found a state that can last for centuries, talent is the key.” But leaving aside the classical em- bellishments, what does Xi’s Thought stand for? “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” is a phrase that has been around ever since the beginning of the reform era in 1979. Baldly put, it has meant that China’s leaders will adopt almost any policy that will produce economic growth, but they will still call it socialism. What’s new is the “New Era,” which presumably starts now, or perhaps it began with Xi’s accession ﬁve years ago. Therefore one has to study his pronouncements on the governance of China. Fortunately, the Chinese propaganda authorities, who have encouraged the ever-burgeoning cult of Xi—a recent 5 On similar occasions in the past, Xi’s predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao wore well-tailored Mao suits. 6 Bo Zhiyue, China’s Political Dynamics under Xi Jinping (World Scientiﬁc, 2016), pp. 75–77. 7 Zhang Fengzhi, Xi Jinping: How to Read Confucius and Other Chinese Classical Thinkers (CN Times Books, 2015). The New York Review Jason Lee/Reuters news broadcast from China’s central TV station opened with over four minutes of nothing but people applauding Xi—have published a book of his speeches in Chinese and foreign languages on the wide variety of topics that a general secretary who insists on controlling everything has to cover. The diligence of Xi’s ﬂacks to ensure that his pronouncements are widely available is commendable, though mind-numbing titles might put off a foreign reader: “Explanatory Notes to the ‘Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Continuing the Reform.’” In this case Xi, on behalf of the Politburo, is explaining a “CC decision” to the CC, which is indicative of where the decision was actually made. 8 New Politburo member Wang Huning with President Xi Jinping during a meeting with the press, Beijing, October 2017 This decision was an important milestone under Xi’s leadership, but it also exposed problems in his strategy. Xi explained that he and two other PSC members were responsible for the drafting of the decision, but the seven-month-long process involved consultations with national and provincial leaders, retired party ofﬁcials, the heads of the All- China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and various non- CCP notables, as well as three review meetings by the PSC and two by the Politburo. A primary purpose was to give the market an enhanced part in the economy: “The market plays a decisive role in allocating resources, but it is not the sole actor in this regard.”9 And there was the rub that over the succeeding four years Xi’s team failed to transform China from an economy that depended on exports to a domestic one that depended on consumption. Xi is wedded to state- owned enterprises as the bulwark of a socialist economy and nervous about an untamed free market. The bursting of the Shanghai stock market bubble in 2015 must have been a grave shock. But in his three-and-a-half-hour marathon speech to the Nineteenth 8 Xi Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014), p. 76. 9 Xi, The Governance of China, p. 85. Congress, Xi was relentlessly upbeat. Problems were listed, shortcomings admitted, but breakthroughs had been made in important areas and general “frameworks,” in Xi’s phrase, for reform had been established due to the launch of 1,500 reform measures. China was fully committed to building a “moderately prosperous society in all respects” by 2020, he said, in time for the CCP’s centenary in 2021. Between 2020 and 2035, China is to emerge as a global leader in innovation, its people will have more comfortable lives, and the middleincome level will have expanded considerably. The rights of the people will be protected, and social etiquette and civility will be signiﬁcantly enhanced, i.e., the Chinese will be nicer to each other. The second stage of Xi’s plan will last from 2035 to midcentury, in time for the centenary of the Chinese People’s Republic in 2049, and will see China become a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful, a global leader that has achieved national strength and international inﬂuence. In short, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the ﬂowering of the Chinese dream, a vague notion of restoring the greatness of China’s most glorious dynasties, which Xi has made his overarching aim since coming into power, will have been realized. And to achieve all this, the party leadership must be upheld and the strength of the party increased. Thus when Xi talks of the rule of law he does not mean the party will be subject to it, just as “democracy” for him does not imply any threat to China’s Leninist system of government. In his speech, Xi revealed some of the steely patriotism that clearly underlies his smiling and unthreatening public persona: The Chinese nation is a great nation; it has been through hardships and adversity but remains indomitable. The Chinese people are a great people; they are industrious and brave; and they never pause in the pursuit of progress. The Communist Party of China is a great party; it has the courage to ﬁght and the mettle to win. The wheels of history roll on; the tides of the times are vast and mighty. History looks kindly on those with resolve, with drive and ambition, and with plenty of guts; it won’t wait for the hesitant, the apathetic, or those shy of a challenge.10 And in this brave new era, China will be “moving closer to center stage,” in case anyone had not noticed. 10 From the ofﬁcially translated text issued in Beijing. There is an echo here of the young Mao, who wrote in 1919: “The time has come! The great tide in the world is rolling ever more impetuously! . . . He who conforms to it shall survive, he who resists it shall perish.” Quoted in Stuart R. Schram, The Political Thought of Mao Tse- tung (Pelican, 1969), p. 163. new books from polity Aesthetics 1958/59 Theodor W. Adorno “An indispensable addition to the English-language reader’s understanding of this central thinker.” – Michael Jennings, Princeton University Paper | 368 pages | 9780745679402 | $28.95 Saving Beauty Byung-Chul Han “An aesthetic call to arms; an example of how philosophy can militate for a better world and make us see anew.” – Karen Leeder, Oxford University Paper | 112 pages | 9781509515103 | $12.95 Ex Captivitate Salus Experiences, 1945-47 Carl Schmitt “Carl Schmitt’s poetic, apocalyptic, seductive but ultimately unsatisfying attempt at self-exculpation after the fall of the Third Reich.” – John McCormick, The University of Chicago Paper | 112 pages | 9781509511648 | $19.95 Jealousy A Forbidden Passion Giulia Sissa “With her passionate and compelling defence of erotic anger as the lifeblood of amorous relationships, Sissa rescues jealousy from the moralists, the philosophers, and an industry devoted to amplifying shame in the guise of therapy.” – Brooke Holmes, Princeton University Paper | 320 pages | 9781509511853 | $24.95 Society of Fear Heinz Bude “Bude masterfully explores the existential, political, and generational experiences that create the conditions for a ‘society of fear.’” – John Borneman, Princeton University Paper | 160 pages | 9781509519507 | $22.95 Shell Shocked The Social Response to Terrorist Attacks Gérôme Truc “Truc’s hermeneutic powers are extraordinary – this book deserves to be read and discussed widely.” – Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University Paper | 336 pages | 9781509520343 | $28.95 New York Review Books (including NYRB Classics and Poets, The New York Review Children’s Collection, and NYR Comics) polity Editor: Edwin Frank Managing Editor: Sara Kramer Senior Editors: Susan Barba, Michael Shae, Gabriel Winslow-Yost, Lucas Adams 30 years of independent thinking Cambridge | Oxford | Boston | New York Linda Hollick, Publisher; Nicholas During, Publicity; Abigail Dunn, Marketing Manager; Hilary Reid, Marketing Associate; Evan Johnston and Daniel Drake, Production; Patrick Hederman and Alaina Taylor, Rights; Yongsun Bark, Distribution. January 18, 2018 www.politybooks.com 33 A Doggish Translation Emily Wilson There seems to be an insatiable thirst in the contemporary Anglophone world for new translations of archaic Greek hexameter poetry. It is easy to see why the Homer market is booming. The Odyssey—a gripping, deeply human poem about identity, community, loss, cleverness and lies, gender inequality, wealth and poverty, migration, travel, colonization, mass murder, and cultural difference—has never felt more resonant than it does in 2017. The Iliad—a starker poem about human vulnerability, rage, pain, isolation, honor, and the thrilling, horriﬁc effects of male aggression—feels more chillingly important on each rereading. The near- contemporary poems by Hesiod, also the products of a long oral tradition and also composed around the eighth or seventh century BCE (although Barry Powell gives an earlier date), are less prominent in our culture. Perhaps the relative paucity of good, reader-friendly translations is partly to blame. There is a nonmetrical and fairly old but still-vibrant translation by Richmond Lattimore (1959) and experimental poetic versions by Daryl Hine (in hexameters, 2005) and by Catherine M. Schlegel and Henry Weinﬁeld (in rhyming couplets, 2006). There is a nice free-verse version by Apostolos N. Athanassakis (1983) and another, in a more folksy register, by Stanley Lombardo (1993). There is also a prose translation by Martin West (1978) and another prose translation for the Loeb library, with facing Greek text, by Glenn Most (2007). This may seem a large array of choices, but by Homeric standards, it is pitiful. There have been dozens of new translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey into English in the past few decades. I am particularly eager to read the new translation of Works and Days by the talented poet Alicia Stallings, which will appear in March. Until then, we have a new translation by Barry Powell. There is no recent English Hesiod that fully captures the strange poetic qualities of the original, which would be a tall order. These poems are composed, like Homer’s, in a regular and rhythmical, highly artiﬁcial but also ﬂuent and natural-sounding verse. But the tone and subject matter are quite different from the Homeric poems. Hesiod’s themes range from the mythical divine origins of the universe to the importance of not pissing facing the sun. These poems capture a wonderfully confusing rag-bag of popular cultural wisdom, drawn from wide and incompatible sources. This may make Hesiod sound like the ancient equivalent of a random Google search, but his poems are more artful and self- conscious than that. They express a deep yearning for social, ethical, cosmological, and poetic order, and at the same time a fundamental awareness of the randomness and frustrations of life, and of poetry itself. 34 Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford/Bridgeman Images/©2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS ), New York/ADAGP, Paris The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and The Shield of Herakles translated from the Greek by Barry B. Powell. University of California Press, 184 pp., $14.95 (paper) Etching by Georges Braque for an edition of Hesiod’s Theogony, commissioned by Ambroise Vollard, early 1930s T here are many excellent reasons why nonspecialists might be interested in reading Hesiod in English translation. In an era when we may be desperate for the swamp to be drained and for, in Hesiod’s words, some “true judgments that abide by justice” to be made in Washington, there are particular reasons to turn back to his complex, contradictory analyses to understand how we got here and how it all went wrong. The name “Hesiod”—like the name “Homer”—probably does not refer to a single individual author, although Powell is credulous about the ostensibly biographical details in the Hesiodic oeuvre. “Hesiodic” is arguably the name of a cluster of archaic poetic genres rather than of an individual: it denotes poems that describe the origins of the world and the gods, that list and evoke the characters of the mythical past, and that convey folk wisdom, from profoundly ethical meditations about the nature of justice to bits of trivia about astronomy, farming, sailing, and household management. The Hesiodic poems—the Theogony and Works and Days, as well as the much later Shield of Herakles and Catalog of Women—do not have the rich, rounded characters or the compulsive narrative interest of the Homeric texts. But they tell us an enormous amount about the dawn of what we used to call “the Western canon.” It is clear from Hesiod that “Western literature” really begins in the East— in the areas of the world now occupied by Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and neighboring regions, but once home to the Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians, and (further down the coast into Lebanon and Israel) Phoenicians. As Barry Powell emphasizes in his introduction to his new translation, Hesiod’s poems owe an enormous debt to these non- Greek peoples. They could not have been created at all without the help of the Semitic Phoenicians, whose alphabet the Greeks used to form their own writing system. In their content, too, the works of Hesiod are as much Eastern as Greek. The creation myths evoked by the Hesiodic Theogony clearly echo similar Hittite stories, preserved on cuneiform tablets, about a struggle for succession between multiple generations of gods. It was the much- earlier Hittites, not the Greeks, who ﬁrst explored the edifying theme of the divine ruler who is deposed and castrated, and of the ﬁnal victory of the storm god—whom they called Teshub, not Zeus. The Babylonians told a related story about the divine struggle for power at the beginning of time. The moralizing maxims and proverbs of Hesiod’s Works and Days often come from Eastern traditions; the genre of the animal fable, the myth of the Golden Age, and the stories of Pandora and of Prometheus, as well as the cataloging of lucky and unlucky days, all have non- Greek parallels and likely originated from earlier, non- Greek cultures. It is inspiring, in the current political climate, to remember how much of “our” early heritage is adapted from the great archaic cultures of what is now the Arabic world. Powell’s new translation of the Theogony, Works and Days, and The Shield of Herakles is a slim, attractive volume that includes maps and several genealogical tables to help the reader keep all those titans, heroes, and goddesses straight. It also has some lovely full- color illustrations of vase paintings and reliefs; the Eastern inﬂuences on the Greek tradition are beautifully shown by the juxtaposition of a Hittite storm god with a Greek vase painting of the storm god Zeus. But aside from the pretty pictures and his useful account of Eastern inﬂuences on Greek myth, Powell’s introductory material is disappointing. His discussion of the composition of these poems is highly debatable and speculative, including a theory about their date of origin that most scholars would consider far too early. And he does almost nothing to analyze the poems as literature, or as proto-philosophy, or as pieces of evidence that might tell us about the social fabric of the Greek-speaking culture in which they were composed. Classicists such as Jenny Strauss Clay, Pietro Pucci, Kirk Ormand, and the editors and contributors of the excellent Brill Companion to Hesiod (2009) have opened up the Hesiodic corpus in new ways in recent decades. We are now more aware of these poems’ literary interest, their complex conﬁgurations of gender roles, and their contradictory positioning between content that seems to value the elite or aristocratic class— divine or heroic epic—and the more popular, perhaps proto- democratic genre of wisdom literature (a literary tradition that involves giving proverbial advice, like Proverbs in the Bible). Glenn Most has reminded us of the conceptual importance of these apparently “primitive” poems by showing how they shaped later Greek philosophical thought. Scholars such as Christos Tsagalis and Richard Hunter have written in stimulating ways about Hesiod’s poetic self-fashioning and the mixed generic identities and ancient reception of the Hesiodic poems. None of this intellectual wealth is visible in Powell, whose discussion of what he calls “Prominent Themes in Hesiod’s Theogony” runs to only two and a half pages, in which he asserts that the Theogony is about “the climb to power of male over female,” a theme that, we are told, “the Greeks” saw as “normal”; by “Greeks” he perhaps means “male elite Greeks.” In Powell’s account Works and Days, similarly, is a rather simpler and less interesting poem than you might imagine from reading recent scholarship: it is about “the avoidance of evil deeds” and the “necessity of labor.” The translations themselves are, if possible, worse. Take, as an entirely typical example, this account of the Iron Age: Zeus made another race of mortal human beings who have come into being upon the rich earth. Would that I did not live among this ﬁfth race of men, but that I died before, or that I lived after! For now the race is of iron, nor do men ever cease from suffering and sorrow by day, nor from The New York Review being ruined by destruction at night. If these lines were laid out as prose, one might still be irritated by the redundancies (“ruined by destruction,” “suffering and sorrow”), the repetitions (“race . . . race . . . race”), and the clumsy archaisms (“cease,” “would that I did not”). The original does not repeat the word for “race” (genos) as often as Powell does, and the redundancies are not in the Greek. But at least if Powell had set out his writing as prose, the reader would be free from the frustration of trying to make sense of line breaks that make no sense: Who ends a line with “from”? It may seem as if writing free verse ought to be easier than writing in a regular meter. But free verse rarely works at all well unless the poem’s bones are informed by a structure from which it has leapt away. The glories of H. D.’s metrical innovations come from a deep awareness of English poetic rhythms, from which her feet dance toward the fresh pastures of Euripides. Free verse is not the same as prose with a strange page layout. By this metric, Powell obviously does not write verse, and it would be less painful if he admitted it. Even beyond the standards of poetics and prosody, Powell’s diction is extremely uneven. It tends toward grandiose archaism (“Mnemosynê of the beautiful tresses, on whom were begotten the nine/Muses”) and awkward, unidiomatic phrases (“all stirred hated battle on that day, the females and the males”). But then there are several strange, comical moments when Powell lapses into a more vernacular mode: we meet “the Harpies who have nice hair” and the bronze-worker relaxes on a “comfy couch,” and when Prometheus tries to trick Zeus, the great Cloud God comments, “O son of Iapetos,/most excellent of all the gods—wow!” Powell’s Hesiod takes on a bizarrely peremptory tone when talking to the Muses (“Come here, you Muses of Pieria,” he tells them bossily, as if addressing a gaggle of noisy preschoolers). As Lawrence Venuti has reminded us, there is not necessarily anything wrong with a translation that draws attention to its own status as translation. For a classical translator, the occasional use of markedly archaic or markedly modern-sounding words can be a useful device to invite a deeper reﬂection on the relationship of ancient to modern cultures. But in Powell’s case, where the baseline style is so relentlessly clunky, there seems little reason to imagine that these moments of stylistic schizophrenia are inserted with any particular goal in mind. One might imagine that Powell’s translations would at least give what nontranslators like to call a “literal” or “faithful” account of what the Greek actually says. Probably he believes that this is what he has done. But in truth, no translator can avoid making judgments about what matters in the original and what does not. Powell’s style already implies a certain set of judgments about Hesiod’s poetic abilities— judgments that are not very ﬂattering to the poor old Boeotian bard. His translations enact the same kinds of thoughtlessness that are implied by his thin introductory analysis. I will focus on his handling of gender, but much the same point could be made about his approach to other kinds of social status, January 18, 2018 including the representation of divine power. R eviewers, especially male reviewers, rarely comment on the gendered assumptions and biases of male translators. So it is worth emphasizing that Powell’s rendering of the Greek is, in a great many moments, noticeably shaped by his unexamined masculine bias. Of course, he is by no means alone in this; he is, in this as in other respects, absolutely typical. That makes it all the more important to notice how a particular kind of gender bias shapes his translation, since similar biases can be seen in many other classical translations that are often imagined to be “objective” or authoritative. For example, there are two words for “man” in Greek: the word aner can mean either “man” or “husband,” and connotes a speciﬁcally male person. This is the ﬁrst word of the Odyssey: Odysseus is deﬁned as “a man.” By contrast, the word anthropos suggests a human being, as opposed to a god or an animal. Anthropos is masculine in form (as are, for example, the words for “world,” “air,” “house,” and “death” in Greek, and hundreds of abstract others); but it does not necessarily denote only male people. There is clear linguistic evidence for this fact, since the word appears in extant ancient Greek with the female pronoun (he anthropos, “the [feminine] human”). Hesiod uses anthropos several times to refer to the relationship of gods to humans, or the contrast between people in the mythical past and people of his own time. At the beginning of the Theogony, we are told that the Muses give inspired speakers the ability to end quarrels and to persuade crowds of people: this is “the holy gift of the Muses to human beings [anthropoisin].” Hesiod’s point is surely not that the gods or the Muses speak only to male people; if gender had been the element he wanted to emphasize, he could have used the other word. But in Powell this becomes “Such is the sacred gift of the Muses to men.” Many instances of anthropos are treated in this way by Powell, but not all—which means that the Greek-less reader will have absolutely no way to tell from Powell when Hesiod means “men” and when he means “people.” You might think this distinction matters; but for Powell, it does not. The same goes for many other words and phrases that are gender-neutral in the original. When Hesiod says that the Gulf of Tartaros is so deep that “one” who entered the gate (an unspeciﬁed, gender-neutral person) would not reach the bottom in a whole year, Powell translates, “If a man were to come inside the gates,/he would not reach the ﬂoor. . . .” Hera is described in Hesiod as thaleros, a word that can be used of ﬂourishing plants or abundant tears or a muscular warrior’s thighs: it suggests sturdiness or luxuriance or physical power. In Powell, she becomes “buxom Hera his wife.” When Hesiod declares that “giving” (a feminine noun personiﬁed) is good, and “stealing” (another personiﬁed feminine) is bad, Powell makes only one of them feminine, and by now you can probably guess which: “Give is good; Grab is a bad girl.” The masculine bias also creeps into Powell’s rendering of the relationships between male and female characters in the text. There is, for example, the WHERE GRAPHIC NOVEL MEETS GREAT SCHOLARSHIP Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution By Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye Art by Sarula Bao and Caroline Brewer “...a compelling entry into how issues of illness, mortality, and decisions around them are always shaped in the particulars of history and politics. Bravo!” —Faye Ginsburg, New York University The first book in our new ethnoGRAPHIC series, Lissa brings anthropological research on breast cancer and kidney disease to life in comic form. 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In the Works and Days story, violent encounter; the root verb suging them up—a parodic echo of the feby contrast, Pandora’s name suggests gests “to overpower” or “to subdue,” male process of gestation and birth. that she may be the source of all goodand is used for enemies killed or slaves These are stories that grapple with ness, as well as all suffering. She makes taken in war, or for animals broken to hard questions about the nature and a choice to open the jar, although we the plow or the harness, or for women gendering of power. Do male authoriare not told why. Moreover, the Works overpowered in nonconsensual sex. ties have to steal or borrow from female and Days story makes it clear that “Raped” would be a valid translation. capacities in order to gain control, as the miseries that come into the world There are common terms in Hesiod Zeus does when he swallows Metis? when the jar opens are separate from for consensual sexual encounters (such Is it true—as Powell assures us—that Pandora herself; she is an instrumental as mignumi, “to mix” or “mingle” or “mind” thus becomes “part of his own cause of their release, but she is not the “have intercourse”); the text makes being”—or is there a remaining tension cause of human pain. a clear distinction between cases of between male dominance and female “mingling” and cases of “subduing” intelligence? Is “the feminine” always ll these contradictions, both within or “raping.” One could argue about to be associated with disorder, or are the Pandora story and between the whether it is or is not appropriate to use male beings, who can be (and, in HesTheogony and the Works and a word that is, for us, shocking, Days versions of the myth, and describes an action that is point to some important unlegally recognized as a crime, resolved tensions in the way for an action that is at least a active female behavior was tiny bit more normalized in conceived in archaic Greek the Greek text; the choice of a culture. This makes it particuword like “overpowered” over larly important for a translator “raped” might be defensible of Hesiod to think carefully on these grounds. But it is cerabout how exactly the poems tainly not defensible, on any articulate gender roles, here possible philological or scholand elsewhere. But unfortuarly grounds, to alter the originately, Powell gives no sign of nal by making a nonconsensual having done any of this work. encounter sound consensual. To take just one detail: Zeus Yet this is exactly what Powtells Hermes, in Works and ell does. He renders the line Days, to put into Pandora “a as: “Theia, submitting in love doggish mind and a wily charto Hyperion.” There are many acter.” The term I translated rapes in Hesiod, and Powell creas “wily” (epiklopos) can be ates the same distortion every either positive (suggesting single time. To take just one cleverness or competence—it more example: the Titan Rhea, is used of Odysseus’s skill in we are told, is raped by Kronos, archery) or negative (suggestand from this act of violence ing the tendency to steal). the Olympian gods are born: The term “doggish” (kuneos) Rheia de dmetheisa Kronoi teke is used as an insult by Achilphaidima tekna (“Rhea, overles about Agamemnon in the powered/raped by Kronos, gave Iliad; it is common in archaic birth to glorious/shining chilGreek poetry to accuse one’s dren”). Powell again (and again ‘Pandora’s Box’; engraving by Bernard Picart, 1730 enemies of being like dogs. and again) erases the violence As Cristiana Franco argued that is obvious in the Greek: his in an important recent study, Shameiod’s world, are) castrated, more prone translation reads, “Rhea, sleeping with less: The Canine and the Feminine in to disintegration, since their bodies are Kronos, bore splendid children.” Powell Ancient Greece (2014), dogs are creamore readily partitioned? Do violence, presumably knows what the verb damtures that share human food but are treachery, and deceit belong more to azo means; it is a common enough word, not human, so “dog” in archaic Greek masculine or feminine power, or to both and any basic dictionary will explain its culture was a good shorthand for hintequally? Is there a way to be simultameaning. But the distinction between ing that a person might not be propneously male and female? The poems being “subdued” or “raped” by Kronos erly human. Hence the insult is more raise the questions, without necessarily and “sleeping with Kronos” is one that commonly used in these texts against offering a coherent answer. These disthis translator clearly assumes does not women than men, since their humanity turbing myths about gender roles are matter, and therefore does not reﬂect in is more often imagined to be in doubt. an important reason to read and study his translation. But kuneos certainly is not exclusively Hesiod, so it is a pity when a translator feminine, unlike the modern English of these texts is unable to look at gender ll this might conceivably be a little insult “bitch,” which carries entirely with open and critical eyes. less important if the original poems had different and speciﬁc connotations of It is in Works and Days that we have nothing to say about gender. But this is low-level cruelty conceptualized as the earliest extensive narrative of the simply not the case. The complex, often a particularly feminine quality. Powstory of Pandora, “All Gifts,” the fabricontradictory relationships and hierell makes Pandora’s mental qualities cated, not- quite-human woman whom archies between men and women, bedeﬁnitely negative, and deﬁnitely femiZeus gives to humans as a punishment, tween feminine and masculine powers, nized, in ways that the Greek does not after the Titan Prometheus tricked him and between gods and goddesses are a require: his Hermes is told “to put in and gave ﬁre to mortals. This story, like central part of what the Homeric and her the mind/of a bitch and a scheming that of Adam and Eve in Genesis, might Hesiodic poems are all about, and gennature.” be construed as straightforwardly mider in these texts is not a concept that This is a clear case of how translation sogynistic: the woman’s decision (to eat is presented as entirely transparent in always involves interpretation, and it the fruit, or to open the box) is at the meaning. illustrates the need for every translaroot of all evil in the world. But it also The Theogony begins with two kinds tor—male or female, young or old—to makes clear that the ultimate cause of of divine female power: the nine Muses think as deeply as humanly possible human misery is a power struggle bewho inspire the poem itself, and the two about each verbal, poetic, and interpretween two male deities, Prometheus primordial female forces, Chaos (or tative choice. Powell’s translations are the Titan and Zeus the Olympian. Chasm, Chaos) and Earth (Gaia), who often not impossible as a way of readThe myth appears in two signiﬁare the ﬁrst entities in the universe, and ing the Greek. But it is a shame that he, cantly different versions in Hesiod: one who gradually, painfully, give way to the like all too many classical translators, in the Theogony, and another in Works Titans and then to the Olympian gods has not thought a little harder about and Days. In the Theogony, the female and goddesses. The biological and social what informs his own readings, and quasi human is unnamed, and women differences between male and female what the alternatives might be. in general are said to be a pema (a “misPrivate Collection/Stapleton Collection/Bridgeman Images A An electrifying and timely book, by leading Russian expert RICHARD LOURIE that explores Putin’s failures and whether Trump’s election gives Putin extraordinarily dangerous opportunities in our mad new world. “INDISPENSABLE.” —VALERIE PLAME “ERUDITE.” —MASHA GESSEN “ENLIGHTENING.” —BOOKLIST *BOOKPAGE 36 A The New York Review Murderous Majorities Mukul Kesavan Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim–Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging edited by Melissa Crouch. Oxford University Press, 345 pp., $55.00 The Rohingya are a community of Muslims concentrated in the northern parts of Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine. There have been Muslims in Rakhine for a thousand years, but their numbers were substantially increased by migration from British India, particularly Bengal, during colonial rule. Before the recent forced exodus to Bangladesh, the Rohingya population in Myanmar was estimated at a little over a million, but that ﬁgure is contested. The last census did not count them because the government did not wish to recognize Rohingya as a legitimate identity. Including Rohingya refugees in nearby Bangladesh who ﬂed during “clearances” conducted by Myanmar’s military rulers in 1978, the early 1990s, and 2012, their total number is likely larger. There are other Muslim communities in Rakhine and Myanmar, but they are culturally and ethnically different from the Rohingya, who have been singled out for violent discrimination. Their distinct dialect and ethnic “otherness,” combined with their concentration in northern Rakhine, have made them seem to Myanmar’s rulers unassimilable and a threat to the integrity of this avowedly Buddhist state. In late August 2017, Rohingya militants attacked police stations in northern Rakhine using knives and homemade bombs. Twelve members of the security forces were killed. The Myanmar military retaliated by burning Rohingya villages, killing and raping civilians, and forcing more than half a million Rohingyas to ﬂee to Bangladesh. The scale of this ethnic cleansing represents the most extreme triumph of majoritarian politics in South Asia. The persecution of the Rohingya has made Myanmar something of an inspiration to majoritarian parties in neighboring states. The Indian government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, announced in mid-August that the 40,000 Rohingyas in India (refugees from an earlier exodus) would be deported because they were illegal immigrants. Even in early September, after the ferocity of the Myanmar army’s “clearances” was known and the extent of the exodus became apparent, no one in Narendra Modi’s administration voiced even the pro forma expressions of concern by which governments often acknowledge widespread human suffering. Majoritarianism—the claim that a nation’s political destiny should be determined by its religious or ethnic majority—is as old as the nation-state in South Asia; it was decolonization’s January 18, 2018 original sin. Postcolonial nations in South Asia began with varying degrees of commitment to the ideal of a pluralistic, broadly secular state, but after a decade or so of independence they were either taken over by military rulers or transformed into religious states by majoritarian politicians. Pakistan was carved out of British India to create a Muslim-majority country, and although its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, seemed at times to support the idea of a secular state, the genocidal violence of the 1947 Partition more or less purged the country d’état and enforced a Buddhist nationalist ideology. This process culminated in the 1982 Citizenship Law, which ofﬁcially denied Rohingyas the possibility of full citizenship. I ronically, it was during the transition to civilian rule between 2012 and 2017 that the country became a purely majoritarian polity through ethnic cleansing and by formally excluding Rohingyas in particular and Muslims generally from every democratic process and institution. The violence Ahmed Salahuddin/Contact Press Images The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide by Azeem Ibrahim, with a foreword by Muhammad Yunus. Hurst, revised and updated edition, 239 pp., £12.99 (paper) Rohingyas ﬂeeing across the Naf River from Myanmar into Bangladesh, September 2017 of its non-Muslim minorities. In its short-lived constitution of 1956, Pakistan formally deﬁned itself as an Islamic republic, and it has remained one for over sixty years. Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was founded in 1948 as a secular nation, but by 1956 its Sinhala Buddhist politicians were pushing to redeﬁne it as a Buddhist republic with Sinhala, the language of the Buddhist majority, as the sole national language. This majoritarian push was aimed at marginalizing Tamil speakers, a substantial non-Buddhist minority concentrated in the north and east of the country. Bangladesh, which won independence from Pakistan in 1971, was established as a secular Bengalispeaking nation, but after a coup in 1975, a military regime turned it into an Islamic republic. (The Supreme Court restored secularism in 2010, but Islam remains Bangladesh’s ofﬁcial religion.) Major General Aung San, who brought about Myanmar’s independence from Britain after World War II and was assassinated in 1947, envisioned it as a secular republic. The constitution of 1948, however, which established Myanmar as an independent nation, conferred full citizenship on most ethnic minorities but withheld it from the Rohingya. Throughout the 1950s, the government of U Nu, the country’s ﬁrst prime minister, accommodated the idea of a Rohingya community and held out the prospect of citizenship for Rohingyas. The census of 1961 even recognized “Rohingya” as a demographic category. The evolution of Myanmar into an explicitly Buddhist state began in 1962 when a military government seized power in a coup of 2012 (which preﬁgured the ethnic cleansing of 2017) resulted in 120,000 Rohingyas being expelled from towns in northern Rakhine and conﬁned to camps for internally displaced persons. The 2014 census was designed to exclude “alien” minorities; nearly a third of Rakhine’s population went uncounted because the Rohingya refused to identify as Bengali Muslim, which would have lent credibility to the claim that they were foreigners, not citizens. The census was used to compile the new electoral rolls for the country’s ﬁrst democratic elections in 2015; it effectively disenfranchised the Rohingya and led to the total absence of Muslims from Myanmar’s parliament for the ﬁrst time since independence. That year, the government conﬁscated the registration cards that had entitled Rohingyas to health and education services and, until recently, to the right to vote, which they had previously been granted at the whim of the regime. The cards were the only ofﬁcial documents of residence or identity that they possessed. These administrative actions successfully established Buddhist supremacy in Rakhine and in Myanmar as a whole. The absence of an important minority from both the electoral process and parliament is the sort of total victory that majoritarians in South Asia have long dreamed of but never achieved. In 2014, a year before Myanmar’s elections, Narendra Modi led the BJP to an absolute majority in the Indian general elections. His majority was historic because it did not include a single Muslim member of parliament from the BJP. But twenty-three Muslims of other par- ties were elected to the Lok Sabha, the Indian parliament’s lower house; the absence of any Muslims from Myanmar’s legislature was a more comprehensive victory for majoritarianism. It is no surprise that a right-wing Hindu nationalist party in India would keep its distance from Muslims, but in Myanmar it was the liberal opposition, the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, that didn’t ﬁeld a single Muslim candidate. The NLD may have excluded Muslim candidates for strategic reasons—to ride out the anti-Rohingya sentiment stirred up by extremist clergy, to defer to the military’s prejudices during the sensitive transition to democracy, to avoid antagonizing Rakhine’s Buddhist majority—or because of the prejudices of its own members. The result was the political marginalization of an already threatened minority. Myanmar in 2017, with a parliament free of Muslims and 600,000 Rohingyas violently driven out, has proven that it is possible for a religious majority to achieve political domination. The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide by Azeem Ibrahim doesn’t pretend to be an objective history of the tragedy unfolding in Rakhine. It is a partisan book, and its claim on the reader’s attention is not its grasp of history but its urgency and prescience. Completed in 2015, immediately after the long-awaited elections, it warned that the transition to democracy had, tragically, left the Rohingya more excluded, more vulnerable, and more likely to be expelled than ever before, unless the NLD and military acted to stop their persecution. In his epilogue to the updated paperback edition, written after the violence of September 2017, Ibrahim reﬂects on the vindication of that prediction and argues that “we are now seeing an unstable situation escalate into the ethnic cleansing of an entire community.” His prescience is reason enough to recommend his book, and particularly the sections that deal with the transition to democracy in 2015. Majoritarianism insists on different tiers of citizenship. Members of the majority faith and culture are viewed as the nation’s true citizens. The rest are courtesy citizens, guests of the majority, expected to behave well and deferentially. To be tolerated at the majority’s discretion is no substitute for full citizenship in modern democracies. It is a state of limbo, a chronically unstable condition. A polity that denies full citizenship to its minorities will, sooner or later, politically disenfranchise them or expel them on the grounds that, despite being residents, they aren’t citizens at all and actually belong elsewhere—in India or Pakistan or Tamil Nadu or, as with the Rohingya, in Bangladesh. Myanmar has three categories of citizenship: citizen, associate citizen, and naturalized citizen. The Rohingya are classed as foreigners. The one South Asian state that had formally resisted the temptation of majoritarianism until the 1980s was 37 I PUBLIC SCHOLAR N IO NAT ONAL ENDOWM WMEN WM ENT N NT F FOR TH THE H HUMANIT N IES —© Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com Grants for serious nonﬁction, biography, and history, written for popular audiences. · up to · $50,400 for 12 months Deadline: February 7, 2018 More info at: www.neh.gov/grants CLASSIC COLLECTION MATCHBOOK SET Wuthering Heights •Black Beauty • Emma Little Women • Pride and Prejudice A mini slipcase with ﬁve “books” that are actually matchbooks. Each gold-stamped matchbook “cover” is designed to recall a vintage edition of the book; the back is imprinted with an iconic quote from the book. Matches are 5" long. #05-MB104 • $15 BANNED BOOK MATCHES Five matchbooks with the names of ﬁve celebrated yet once banned books are packaged in a slipcase (2" x 2½"). On the back of each matchbook there is an explanation of why the book was censored, and by whom. Made in USA. Manufacturer works with Books For Africa. Also see Gilded Books Matchbook Set. #05-BBMS2 • $9.95 Prices above do not include shipping and handling. To US addresses only. TO ORDER, go to shop.nybooks.com or call 646-215-2500 38 Ahmed Salahuddin/Contact Press Images THE T HE E n his essay for Islam and the State in India. Founded as a constitutional reThe imagined threat of demographic Myanmar, a collection that addresses public in 1950, it treated its substantial extinction at the hands of fast-breeding, the relationship between Myanmar’s Muslim minority (it has the third-largest evangelizing Muslims is central to maMuslims and their government, BenjaMuslim population in the world) as full joritarian mobilization in India, Sri min Schonthal demonstrates the extent and equal citizens. Despite its being Lanka, and Myanmar. Several Indian to which Buddhist majoritarianism in 80 percent Hindu, there was no forprovinces have passed laws that strictly Myanmar is akin to Sinhala nativism mal sense in which India’s religious regulate religious conversion. Their in Sri Lanka, noting recent meetings minorities were expected to assimiunstated goal is to prevent conversion between the Sri Lankan Bodu Bala late into Hindu culture. The only parto Islam or Christianity; conversion to Sena (Army of Buddhist Power) and ties that demanded this assimilation, Hinduism, on the other hand, is seen the explicitly anti-Muslim monk-led such as the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the as reversion. It is referred to as ghar 969 movement in Myanmar. Ashin political ancestor of Modi’s BJP, were wapsi, or “homecoming.” In the disminor regional parties that had little Wirathu, its most notoriously Islamocourse of Hindu majoritarianism, all power. For the ﬁrst twenty-ﬁve years phobic preacher, visited Colombo in Muslims and Christians are ancestrally of the republic, under the leadership late 2014 to sign a memorandum of Hindu. of Jawaharlal Nehru and then his understanding between the Bodu Bala Myanmar remains at the vanguard daughter Indira Gandhi, India remained Sena and 969. People in both countries, of majoritarianism in South Asia, in a constitutionally secular state. Schonthal suggests, “are beginning to its capacity to violently expel an ethIn the late 1970s and early 1980s, the see their own actions in a broader renic minority, disenfranchise those who political balance shifted following the gional framework.” remain, and make the prejudices of Emergency, Indira Gandhi’s exBuddhist chauvinists into law. periment with authoritarian rule The Organization for the Probetween 1975 and 1977. But the tection of Race, Religion, and new politics was also shaped by Belief, popularly known as Mapogroms. In 1983, two thousand Ba-Tha (the abbreviation of its Muslims of Bengali ancestry Burmese name), began in 2013 were slaughtered in a matter of as a campaign to pass what were hours in the town of Nellie, in collectively known as the Race Assam. (Unofﬁcial estimates and Religion Protection Laws. place the number of deaths at In a little over two years these more than ten thousand.) The laws were approved by the legindigenous Assamese who perislature and signed into law by petrated the massacre thought the president. the Muslims were illegal miOf all the laws governing grants from Bangladesh whose monogamy, birth control, relinames had been included on the gious conversion, and interfaith electoral rolls. Bangladesh, then marriage that implicitly target a relatively new nation, was seen Muslims, the most ﬂagrantly by unsympathetic neighbors as a discriminatory is the Myannet exporter of people, and since mar Buddhist Women’s Spethese immigrants tended to be cial Marriage Law. A Buddhist Bengali-speaking Muslims, they woman under twenty years of looked and sounded conspicuage needs parental consent to ously alien. marry a non-Buddhist. Local The 1983 massacre in Assam registrars are empowered to was a landmark in Indian polipost marriage applications. tics. The student organization The couple can marry only if whose anti-Muslim activism no one objects, but any citizen culminated in the pogrom escan contest the application, tablished a political party that causing it to be challenged in handily won the next provincial court. In the event of a divorce, election. The incident demonthe woman automatically gets strated that illegal immigracustody of the children. The A Rohingya girl at a makeshift camp in Bangladesh, tion was a serious problem, purpose of the law is to make inafter crossing over from Myanmar, September 2017 that Bengali Muslims were a termarriage between Buddhist political scapegoat, and, most women and non-Buddhist men In another essay in the collection, signiﬁcantly, that pogroms could be as difﬁcult as possible. Monks, priests, Nyi Nyi Kyaw compares 969’s campolitically proﬁtable. and majoritarians in every country in paigns to those of Hindu chauvinist orIn 1984, the assassination of Indira South Asia will have taken note that ganizations in India like the Rashtriya Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards the government of Myanmar has been Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP. The led to the systematic murder of Sikhs able to stand out as the defender of the supposed fertility of Muslim men and in Delhi and elsewhere. Her son, Rajiv faith by legally discriminating in favor their practice of polygamy are seen as Gandhi, won a large electoral victory of the country’s majority on the basis threats to the future of Buddhists in after this pogrom, and the lesson of of religion. Myanmar. The allegation is that MusNellie was reinforced, this time at the Majoritarianism in South Asia isn’t lim men are waging a “Love Jihad”; as national level. Subsequent pogroms of necessarily about targeting Muslims. Kyaw notes, Ashin Wimalar Biwuntha, Muslims in Bombay (1992–1993) and Nor is it provoked by the need to discia 969 monk, has accused Muslim men Gujarat (2002) were followed by elecpline recalcitrant minorities in general. of seducing Buddhist women “for their toral victories for parties like the Shiv Majoritarian politics results from the reproductive tactics. They produce a Sena and the BJP that were complicit patiently constructed self-image of an in the violence. There has been no forlot of children, they are snowballing.” aggrieved, besieged majority that bemal disenfranchisement of minorities, The terms “Love Jihad” and “Romeo lieves itself to be long-suffering and rebut majoritarian parties in India have Jihad” are lifted straight from the lexifuses to suffer in silence anymore. The learned that encouraging violence con of Hindu bigotry. The BJP and its cultivation of this sense of injury is the afﬁliates are committed to ﬁghting soagainst minorities pays off electorally. necessary precondition for the lynchcalled predatory Muslims practicing Majoritarian violence had become ings, pogroms, and ethnic cleansing “Love Jihad” with street vigilantes ora shortcut to power throughout South that invariably follow. ganized in “Anti-Romeo squads.” The Asia. In Myanmar, Pakistan, and BanMajoritarianism promotes equalchief minister of India’s most populous gladesh, insecure military rulers sought opportunity bigotry. In Sri Lanka the state, Uttar Pradesh, a Hindu monk legitimacy by aligning the state with its rout of the Tamil Tigers and the ﬁnal called Yogi Adityanath, has for years religious majority, while in India and destruction of the goal of a Tamil led a private militia, the Hindu Yuva Sri Lanka, nativist parties won elechomeland did little to assuage radical Vahini (Hindu Youth Force), in the tions by promoting the idea that the nanativists. For the Sinhala Ravaya (the battle against this phantom enemy. In tion was being subverted by predatory Roar of the Sinhala Nation), the Rafact, his principal credential for the minorities. By the end of the twentieth vana Balaya (Ravana’s Force, referring chief minister’s ofﬁce in 2016 was his century, majoritarian parties were eito a legendary king believed to have proven ability to mobilize the “Hindu ther in power or the principal opposiruled over Sri Lanka), and the Bodu street” against Muslims. tion in every South Asian nation. 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Exhibitors Include Academy of American Poets, Akashic Books, American Poetry Review,The Authors Guild, Bloomsbury Publishing, BOA Editions, Cave Canem, Coffee House Press, Copper Canyon Press, Graywolf Press, Grove/Atlantic Press, The Kenyon Review, Lambda Literary, Macmillian, Milkweed Editions, National Book Critics Circle, National Endowment for the Arts, New Directions, One Story, Poetry Foundation, Rain Taxi Review of Books, Red Hen Press, The Sun Magazine,Two Dollar Radio, University of Pittsburgh Press, W.W. Norton & Company, and hundreds of other presses, journals, magazines, and literary organizations. 40 Tamils as the existential threat to Sri Lanka’s integrity as a Sinhala Buddhist nation. The Muslim community was orphaned by the civil war: Muslims had long been distrusted by the Sri Lankan state since they speak Tamil, but they were also purged from Tiger strongholds because they were not Tamil enough. Now, Schonthal writes, the new Muslim threat is seen as demographic, ﬁnancial (through their alleged control of trade and industry), and transnational, because local Muslims are viewed as part of a broader conspiracy to Islamicize the Buddhist world. But Sri Lankan majoritarians don’t necessarily single out Muslims: a long-standing campaign by the Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Heritage Party) for a bill that would place strict limits on conversion to non-Buddhist faiths was spurred by a dislike of Christian missionaries. Even Pakistan, whose population is almost entirely Muslim (97 percent), has targeted minority Muslim sects. Starting in 1974 it began a ﬁfteenyear process of Islamicization, declaring members of the Ahmadi sect non-Muslims, passing blasphemy laws that were routinely used to persecute minorities, and patronizing fundamentalist Sunni organizations that were willing to commit acts of horriﬁc violence against Shias. Bangladesh, another Muslim-majority nation, has seen a decline in its Hindu population. While the Bangladeshi state under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has become more secular, it remains a dangerous country for Hindus, tribal minorities, and atheists. T he recent expulsions of Rohingyas from Myanmar have provoked a storm of criticism, which has received defensive responses not just from State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s ofﬁcial spokespersons, but also from historians, policy experts, and foreign diplomats. If their arguments in defense of Myanmar’s policies succeed in normalizing the largest forced exodus in peacetime since the mid-1990s, when two million Rwandans were forced to leave their country, minorities across South Asia will become even more vulnerable to persecution. India’s ﬁrst response to the violence in Rakhine was an implicit endorsement of the carnage. According to a joint statement issued on September 6 during the Indian prime minister’s state visit to Myanmar, “India condemned the recent terrorist attacks in northern Rakhine State, wherein several members of the Myanmar security forces lost their lives. Both sides agreed that terrorism violates human rights and there should, therefore, be no gloriﬁcation of terrorists as martyrs.” The joint statement made no mention of the exodus of Rohingya refugees. India’s foreign secretary, speaking at a conference in New Delhi, was careful not to criticize Myanmar: The fact that there is an exodus of a large number of people from the Rakhine state is clearly a matter of concern. Our objective will be to see how they can go back to their place of origin. That is not easy. We feel this situation is better addressed through practical measures and constructive con- versation rather than doing very strong condemnations. The largely Western condemnation of Myanmar’s government and Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized as excessive, simplistic, and ill-informed. The argument made by majoritarians is that the narrative of Rohingya victimhood obscures and silences the trauma of Rakhine Buddhists because the latter haven’t been as adept in lobbying human rights organizations in the West. This argument highlights efforts by militant Rohingyas to create an independent or autonomous Muslim zone in northern Rakhine since decolonization. It emphasizes the fact that the Muslim community in Rakhine greatly expanded after Britain annexed Burma in the early nineteenth century and allowed immigrants from Bengal to enter the region. It insists that the Rakhine Buddhist resentment of Bengali Muslim encroachment needs to be situated in this longer history if foreigners are to arrive at a more evenhanded treatment of two communities, both victims of rival ethnic nationalisms. The trouble with this position is that evenhandedness by any historical reckoning is impossible. The only way the argument in favor of the brutal treatment of Muslims makes sense is if one accepts the Burmese Buddhist distinction between native and alien as the basis for citizenship and belonging. The reason the Rohingya demand recognition as an ethnic group is that full citizenship in Myanmar has always been contingent on membership in one of the “national races,” or taingyintha. The government’s policy of excluding the Muslims of Rakhine from the taingyintha and then denying them citizenship, despite generations of residence, on the basis of that exclusion is Kafkaesque in its circularity. As Nick Cheesman, an Australian academic, points out in an article on taingyintha, “ultimately Myanmar’s problem is not a ‘Rohingya problem’ but a national races problem . . . the idea of taingyintha itself is the problem.” Once the news of this latest atrocity recedes, the Myanmar government will have reason to believe that its project of diminishing the presence of Rohingya in Rakhine is well underway. Sri Lankan nativists who believe that the country’s Buddhists are bhumiputras (sons of the soil) and non-Buddhists are mlecchas (inferior aliens) will take heart. The BJP government in Assam, where illegal Bangladeshi immigration sparked violence in the past, will learn new lessons about the latitude given to perpetrators of ethnic cleansing, as long as it is conducted by “sons of the soil.” The fact that the most vocal protests about the recent violence have come from European countries, foreign human rights groups, and United Nations organizations has encouraged the Myanmar government and its apologists to dismiss them as the handiwork of know-nothing outsiders and professional breast-beaters. But this murderous purge is not a quarrel between the West and the rest. The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya is a particularly vicious chapter in a long history of majoritarian nationalism in South Asia. Unless that history is acknowledged and its legacy contested, more tragedies lie in store. —December 20, 2017 The New York Review The Decisive Moment Ruth Franklin “Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one,” John Berger wrote in his novel G. (1972). In the decades that have followed, that line has become a rallying cry for contemporary novelists, including Michael Ondaatje, Arundhati Roy, and, most famously, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But it’s worth remembering that, from Mrs. Dalloway to Underworld, the novel has often relied on a plurality of voices—sometimes a chorus, sometimes a cacophony—to evoke the texture of life. A technique that once felt radical has become a new ﬁctional norm. So it bears noticing when a novelist creates a genuinely new way of suggesting the complicated dance of relationships formed and dissolved, of connections made and missed, that sets the tone for a human life. For the last seventeen years, in a succession of books that are structured as a hybrid of the novel and linked stories, Joan Silber has been quietly stretching our understanding of how stories can be told. Using one person’s narrative as a jumping- off point for any number of others—the high school ex-girlfriend who appears momentarily in one chapter might become the focus of the next—her work generates tension and momentum from the ebbs and ﬂows of individual lives, but also from the unexpected and sometimes unexplained links between them. “The world is not revolving around you—or it’s revolving around you from your point of view, but there are a lot of other revolutions going on at the same time,” she has said. Her method is “a way of conveying that, of giving a broader canvas than ﬁction sometimes gives.” It’s a testimony to Silber’s gifts that none of her books in this mode—starting with In My Other Life (2000), there are now six—feels formulaic. Each of them pushes in a new direction. Ideas of Heaven (2004), which was shortlisted for the National Book Award, is a “ring of stories” written in the ﬁrst person, in which every speaker connects almost invisibly to the next until the ﬁnal piece of the puzzle brings them all together. In The Size of the World (2008), faulty screws in a guidance system for American planes in Vietnam kickstart a journey across decades, from Vietnam to Florida, Thailand, Sicily, and New Jersey. Fools (2013) begins with a circle of anarchists in 1920s New York and masterfully unspools threads that lead from Paris to Mumbai and ﬁnally circle back around. In each book, the characters are linked not only by their circumstances but also, and more importantly, by their shared preoccupations: the twin paths of sex and religion as routes to ecstasy; the unintended and often irrevocable consequences of our actions; the challenge of reconciling our practical desires with our moral impulses. With Improvement, her eighth work of ﬁction, Silber takes on what might be the quintessential American drive: im- January 18, 2018 Siegfried Woldhek Improvement by Joan Silber. Counterpoint, 227 pp., $26.00 proving ourselves, our partners, or our situations. How do we live our “best life,” as Oprah exhorts from the newsstand? How do we become our best selves—through travel, romance, caretaking, risk-taking? Like the Turkish carpet that drives much of the book’s action, Improvement repeats shapes and motifs, layering them in an intricate pattern that builds into something far more complex than the sum of its parts. That carpet, from the village of Kula, was brought to America by Kiki, whose niece, Reyna, narrates the ﬁrst section of the book. Reyna doesn’t know much about her aunt’s years in Turkey, other than that Kiki met a carpet seller in Istanbul in 1970 and married him. When his business failed, they moved to his family’s farm in the countryside, living with his parents. Eight years later, Kiki returned to New York on her own, toting nine carpets in her “third-world” luggage—“woven plastic valises baled up with string.” She sold a few and kept one for Reyna, who adores her but regards her as a little wacky. When the novel opens, just before Hurricane Sandy, Reyna, a single mother to four-year- old Oliver, has been waiting patiently for several months for her boyfriend, Boyd, to be released from Rikers Island, where he was sent for selling marijuana. He is devoted to her and to Oliver, but his friends—especially Lynnette, his exgirlfriend and the sister of his friend Claude—mistrust Reyna, presumably because she’s white. As a part-time receptionist at a veterinarian’s ofﬁce, Reyna doesn’t make much money; still, she has everything she needs and is happy with her life, especially with Boyd in it. But when Boyd gets out of jail, he ﬁnds that his social position has fallen. No longer allowed to tend bar as he once did, he’s stuck working at a diner. He, Claude, and two other friends cook up a scheme to smuggle cigarettes from Richmond, Virginia, where taxes are low, and sell them in New York. For the ﬁrst few runs, everything goes ﬁne, and the inﬂux of cash gives Boyd and the others a new conﬁdence. Money and the things it gets us—not all of them material—is one of the threads Silber will worry throughout the novel. “From repeated success, from tests passed and suspense endured, their personalities were all showing signs of change,” she writes. Claude had stopped looking hangdog and was now a seemlier specimen, Maxwell took on the dignity of a general, and Wiley was getting closer to unbearable. Boyd simply had more hope in him. We know that something will go wrong, and it does. One day Wiley, the designated driver, doesn’t show up. Maxwell doesn’t have a license, Claude is a terrible driver, and Boyd, still on probation, isn’t allowed to leave New York. They ask Reyna to step in, and she agrees, but at the last minute she changes her mind. Who will take care of Oliver if they get caught and she goes to jail? Claude, impulsively, takes the wheel. He and Maxwell never make it to Richmond. Outside Baltimore, trying to turn onto I-95 from a rest stop, he crashes into a truck. Claude dies before the ambulance gets there; Maxwell winds up in the hospital; Lynnette nearly loses her mind with grief. And Boyd leaves Reyna, their relationship poisoned by her last-minute refusal to help and the disaster that followed. His yearning for improvement has sabotaged them both. In life, we often don’t recognize the moments that potentially alter our courses until long after the results are ﬁxed. The same goes for Silber’s ﬁction, which is centered around those moments of irrevocability but often allows them to pass by almost unnoticed. Reyna doesn’t even learn of Claude’s accident until nearly a week later, after the consequences have already begun to take shape. Everyone touched by it—some directly, others tangentially— is altered. Each is seen brieﬂy but fully, with distinct desires and sorrows. Teddy, the middle-aged trucker who was driving the tractor-trailer Claude crashed into, is haunted by the moment: “the noise of the car’s arrival, the unbelievable cosmic smack of it collapsing itself into crumpled metal.” He feels doubly guilty, both for Claude’s death (though the accident wasn’t his fault) and also because he was on his way to visit his ex-wife, Sally, with whom he’s been having an unlikely affair (he is remarried). They’ve met again twentysix years after their divorce, after her casual request for a document led to an e-mail correspondence and then a series of furtive meetings. Teddy still feels guilty, too, about the way he behaved during their marriage: he drank too much and once ran over a fancy dress of Sally’s with his truck while they were having a ﬁght. He wonders how to repay her for his bad behavior: He’d assumed his genuine remorse was enough—it was a lot, from him—but how much of life was weighable and concrete and physical and how much was thethought-that- counted? Back in Richmond, Darisse, whom Claude has been seeing on his trips there, grows despondent when he doesn’t show up at the bar where they were supposed to meet and stops answering his phone. (“Who had told the girl in Richmond, or was she still waiting?” Reyna wonders after she hears about the accident.) She works as a home health aide and lives with her grandmother, who consented to take her in but not her two-year- old daughter. She’s allowed to see the little girl, who now lives with her ex’s mother, only on weekends and only when her ex is in the mood, which sometimes depends on her willingness to perform sexual favors. Soon after Claude’s disappearance, she meets Silas, a softspoken nurse who takes her out to a jazz club and on their next date brings her back to his stylish apartment. Everyone around her thinks he’s a step up from her previous boyfriends—he dresses well, treats her nicely, makes her wafﬂes for breakfast—but somehow she still doesn’t feel right with him and continues to long for Claude. One person’s improvement is another’s step down. With each of these stories—by the end of the book, there will be several more distinct strands—Silber spins another variation on the novel’s larger themes of advancement and decline, of the mysterious and messy workings of love, of paths taken and not taken. 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TO ORDER, go to shop.nybooks.com or call 646-215-2500 42 only the way a single dramatic event That’s all we get about her illness, and can ripple outward into ever- expanding it’s all we need. circles, but also how a moment that is The uniformity of Silber’s tone is the incidental for one person can be deonly real limitation of her method. The cisive for another. Apparently minor narrative’s perspective moves ﬂuidly details also gain something when seen from one character to the next, but each from a different perspective. By the of them sounds more or less the same. time Kiki’s luggage, which looked so This is likely deliberate, a way of bringforeign to Reyna as a child, appears ing together so many diverse ﬁgures. If again, we know exactly how she acthey all had distinctive voices, the required the carpets she’s carrying and sult might be chaos. Silber has said that what they mean to her. she’s “not really trying to capture their Dieter is a German in his early thirspeaking voices so much as their inner ties when he spends a summer in the voices.” But our inner voices aren’t al1970s traveling in Turkey with two ways as cool and detached as the prose friends, illegally buying antiquiAnton Chekhov ties to sell at a proﬁt back home. One day the trio stops outside Kiki’s farm, and she impulsively invites them to stay the night. After an evening spent drinking and singing Beatles songs, they ask her to join them—they could use a Turkish speaker. “Was this her next adventure, come in off the road to summon her?” Kiki wonders. For her it’s a turning point—though she chooses to stay, she will soon realize that her marriage is over. For the Germans, she’s simply a curiosity, “the American girl, keeping house with that granny in the middle of nowhere.” They will move on and mostly forget about her. The changing perspectives constantly challenge the reader’s sympathies. A character who behaves badly in one story may be depicted more forgivingly in the next. Reyna knows Lynnette only as Boyd’s jealous ex-girlfriend, defensive and suspicious of outsiders. But when the reader sees her later through the eyes of a client in the salon where she works, a different Lynnette appears—ﬁerce, yes, but loyal and ambitious. Here we learn about Lynnette’s own desire for improvement: to open up a salon of her own, which she imagines Claude, with his smuggling money, will help her do. When circumstances that she couldn’t have predicted and doesn’t fully understand bring about the realization of her on these pages. A greater tonal variety dream, it feels, strangely, as if some would lift the novel’s energy level just kind of restitution has been made. a notch. There are always more stories; there t’s a cliché to compare a short-story are always more ways of telling stories. writer to Chekhov; usually critics do Part of Silber’s gift is knowing which that just to say that the stories are stories not to tell. Her prose is spare, good. But there are a few writers, such devoid of ﬂourishes and extraneous as Alice Munro and William Trevor, information. We learn everything we who are consistently and meaningfully need to know about Silas, Darisse’s called Chekhovian, and their distinct new boyfriend, from the descriptions quality, I think, is that their stories don’t of his apartment: “a big shining dinfeel like snapshots of a life, but seem to ing room table and a whole ﬁeld of orrepresent that life entire. Silber, too, chids along a window,” the bedroom bears this distinction; she manages to “very big and too full of bright light make the canvases of these linked stoand too arranged, with its surfaces of ries stretch more broadly than seems tan and brown and bamboo.” In their possible. Sometimes years spin by in a stark setting, the details she offers are glimpse, as when we learn from Dieter gems. Stefﬁ, the lone woman in the of his wife’s bout with cancer: German trio that visits Kiki, is the lead negotiator in their antiquities dealings; Gisela looked wonderful too— bargaining over a cuneiform tablet, she older, more angular, and now with unhooks the gold locket she’s wearing wine-red hair, a change she’d begun and sets it on the table: “The real joy of as deﬁance. When the chemo made the trip for her was in those moments. her hair fall out and it grew back in Her face was hardly ever like that, chunks, she went auburn. Her hair shining.” “Lot of stories in the world,” was longer now, an areole of jagged Silas comments offhandedly the mornfuzz, still punk maroon. ing after he and Darisse ﬁrst spend the I night together. Perhaps Silber is saving his for another book. It’s worth mentioning that Silber came to her distinctive narrative structures not entirely by choice. Her career has been marked by setbacks that say far more about the publishing industry than about the quality of her writing. After publishing two more conventional novels—Household Words (1980), which won the PEN /Hemingway Award, and In the City (1987)—she was unable to get another book published for thirteen years. Interviewing Silber for The Believer, the writer Sarah Stone called this hiatus “the literary equivalent of being dropped in the wilderness with nothing but a light sweater and a stick of gum.” Paradoxically, Silber told Stone, she found her period in the wilderness freeing, because she knew no one was expecting anything speciﬁc from her. She felt no pressure to repeat herself; instead, she could ﬁnd a new path. When Ideas of Heaven was named a ﬁnalist for the National Book Award, there was a small outcry. Not because a beloved and original writer had ﬁnally gotten her due, but because the book, like the other ﬁnalists— Florida (Christine Schutt), Our Kind (Kate Walbert), Madeleine Is Sleeping (Sarah Shun-lien Bynum), and the eventual winner, The News from Paraguay (Lily Tuck)—was too “obscure.” Writing in The New York Times, Edward Wyatt expressed incredulity that these books had been nominated at all, in view of their poor sales, which he cited as somewhere between seven hundred and nine hundred copies. As it turned out, he misstated the numbers. A rather long correction explained that the Nielsen BookScan ﬁgures on which he had relied could have excluded numerically signiﬁcant sales to libraries or elsewhere. But the real ﬂaw of his article wasn’t this error. It was his assumption that there is a reliable correlation between a book’s sales and its quality. One might ask instead: If a group of well-regarded judges thought these were the ﬁve best books of the year, why weren’t more people hearing about them and buying them? What if someone had suggested that it might be time to pay attention to smaller literary novels by women rather than allowing the big books of the season (Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America was the main contender that year) to suck up all the attention? What if, instead of a piece mocking these books for their low sales and denigrating the small press that published one of them, a mainstream newspaper had questioned why a National Book Award–nominated author had been rejected by mainstream publishing houses? “Is she still around?” a friend exclaimed in delighted surprise when I mentioned I was reading Joan Silber’s new novel. It is both tragic and infuriating that a writer as innovative, humane, and wise is not read more widely. One of the underlying themes of Improvement is whether improvement is enough. Can things that are broken ever be entirely ﬁxed? Or must we settle for incremental change, bit by painful bit? The New York Review The Unmentionable Season of Death Antony Beevor Leningrad 1941–1942 : Morality in a City Under Siege by Sergey Yarov, translated from the Russian by Arch Tait. Polity, 409 pp., $45.00 Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster by Polina Barskova. Northern Illinois University Press, 232 pp., $49.00 (paper) mained in Leningrad. Hitler decided that he did not want his troops to occupy the city. Instead the Wehrmacht would bombard it and seal it off and let the remaining residents starve and die of disease. Once reduced in population, the city would be demolished and the area handed over to Finland. Hitler wanted to eradicate the cradle of Bolshevism. Stalin, refusing to believe that the Germans could have broken through so easily, suspected sabotage. He sent General Georgy Zhukov on a plane to Leningrad to take over responsibility for its defense, with instructions much by self- censorship as by ofﬁcial prohibition. Some survivors, as many Red Army veterans did, revised their own experiences through the ﬁlter of what they read in ofﬁcial histories. A number avoided taboo subjects, such as cannibalism, for political reasons. Others could not face repeating the details of the city’s degradation. Even though the Party had initially encouraged the keeping of diaries, censorship was needed later to conceal the extent to which individual experiences contradicted its collective narrative of daily heroism. This took the form of very selective quotation and skirting around Universal History Archive/ UIG /Getty Images The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad by Alexis Peri. Harvard University Press, 337 pp., $29.95 Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad edited and with an introduction by Polina Barskova, translated from the Russian by Anand Dibble and seven others. Ugly Duckling, 159 pp., $18.00 (paper) On June 22, 1941, news of the Nazi invasion prompted disbelief, immediately followed by outrage, across the Soviet Union. About 300,000 citizens from Leningrad joined the armed forces and another 128,000 the militia—the narodnoe opolchenie. These battalions of ill-armed cannon fodder were expected to slow German panzer divisions with little more than their bodies. They had no uniforms, no transport, no medical services. Only half of them had riﬂes. Soviet losses were appalling. In the “Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operations,” which lasted from July 10 to September 30, 1941, the Red Army and militias suffered 214,078 “irrecoverable losses” out of 517,000 men—a fatality rate of 41 percent. General Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb’s Army Group North had advanced out of East Prussia through the Soviet-occupied Baltic states. Apart from a sudden Soviet counterattack near Lake Ilmen, German progress was slowed only by the terrain of marshes and thick birchwoods. Almost half a million Leningrad civilians were sent out to dig over six hundred miles of earthworks and four hundred miles of anti-tank ditches. None of these precautions saved the city from its ﬁrst great disaster. On September 8, the day the Germans took the fortress town of Shlisselburg on the southern shore of Lake Ladoga, thus cutting off the railway line from Leningrad to Moscow, Luftwaffe bombers targeted the food depots in the south of the city. “Columns of thick smoke are rising high,” Vasily Churkin wrote in his diary, horriﬁed by the implications. “It’s the Badaevskiye food depots burning. Fire is devouring the six months’ food supplies for the whole population of Leningrad.” The failure to disperse the stores had been a major error. Rations had to be dramatically reduced right from the start. In addition, little had been done to bring in ﬁrewood for the winter. But the greatest mistake was the failure to evacuate more civilians. Fewer than half a million Leningraders had been sent east before the railway line was cut. More than two and a half million people, including 400,000 children, reJanuary 18, 2018 Two women collecting the remains of a dead horse for food, Leningrad, 1941 to adopt the most ruthless measures. Zhukov claimed that, on going straight to the Smolny Institute, he found the military council in a state of defeatism and drunkenness. Zhukov wasted no time in issuing orders to all commanders of the Leningrad Front: “Make it clear to all troops that all the families of those who surrender to the enemy will be shot.” This went even further than any of Stalin’s decrees. Ironically, Stalin himself was liable to execution under this order, since his son Yakov Djugashvili was captured by the Germans. Stalin was not unduly worried by Zhukov’s decree. He approved of his pitilessness. When Moscow was threatened in November, Stalin was severely tempted to strip Leningrad of troops in order to save the capital. He had little sympathy for what he saw as a city of the intelligentsia who despised Muscovites and were suspiciously fond of Western Europe. “T he Time of Death” and “The Season of Death” were the names given to the worst period of the siege, from the winter of 1941 until the late spring of 1942. Soldiers in the Red Army received rations. Civilians, unless privileged in some way, were left to starve on a diet that could not sustain life. As with the Ukraine famine of 1932–1933, information about starvation was ruthlessly repressed for decades. It was not until the era of glasnost in the mid1980s that the Ukraine famine and the starvation in Leningrad emerged from their smothering in propaganda. Siege literature published in the Soviet era was distorted at least as the central subject of starvation. Publishers and even “authors themselves,” Sergey Yarov explains in his introduction to Leningrad 1941–1942, “watered down the diaries and letters to try to make them conform to the ofﬁcial Soviet trope of ordeals engendering heroism, which was rewarded by victory.” The writer Lydia Ginzburg, he adds, was criticized by censors “for dwelling unduly on the issue of food.” Hunger became an unmentionable subject. Between 1.6 and 2 million Soviet citizens died during the German blockade of Leningrad. These included around 800,000 civilians, approximately 40 percent of the pre-war population, almost the same number as the military losses. Some were killed by German bombs and shells; a large number died from disease, and most from starvation, yet these categories cannot be separated statistically. In The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad, Alexis Peri points out that the death toll was roughly equivalent to “the total number of American military who died in all wars between 1776 and 1975.” Peri, in her fascinating and perceptive book, concentrates on 125 diaries kept by Leningraders throughout the blockade. As many of the diarists themselves recognized, their war was physically, symbolically, and psychologically an internal one. Starvation meant that their own bodies were desperately feeding off themselves, ﬁrst the fat, then the muscle, and ﬁnally the internal organs. Their struggle to survive was not against the German enemy but against an unforgiving bureaucracy, thieving strangers and neighbors, and some- times even family members unable to control themselves. The sense of isolation came from the geography of the besieged city, known as the “ring,” the “circle,” or the “island” because it was cut off from the “mainland” of the Soviet Union. People wrote these diaries for many reasons. Some hoped to preserve their humanity and sanity in the face of moral annihilation and to make sense of the suffering and death around them. A number minutely recorded every resentment and slight as their relationships broke down. For some there was a need to testify. A diary also helped them escape the feeling of imprisonment. “To write about the circle is to break the circle,” wrote Ginzburg. Others saw themselves as modern- day Robinson Crusoes, a character admired then because he was seen to be starting a new society, almost as if he were a prototype of the New Soviet Person. One Leningrader even coined the term “Robinsonia.” I solation increased with the lack of outside news. Anyone who listened to a foreign radio station, when the electricity was working, risked execution. Cautious citizens did not dare mention the blockade or the siege. The correct phrase was “the battle” or “the defense” of Leningrad. Bulletins from the Soviet Information Bureau and reports in Leningradskaya Pravda revealed little, so rumors ran unchecked. With the darkness of a northern winter, an oppressive silence fell upon this frozen city of the dead. The dearth of information in itself seemed to contribute to the death rate. “Curiosity about tomorrow,” wrote Irina Zelenskaia, “is one of the stimuli sustaining me to live.” The terrible effects of starvation destroyed identity. People could not be recognized by close relatives or, if they had not faced a mirror for some time, even by themselves. “I look like all those other devils,” wrote Aleksandra Borovikova, “I have become just bones and wrinkled skin.” A number of diarists noticed how a physical similarity developed between the sexes as breasts shriveled, arms wasted, and faces wrinkled. Men and women bundled themselves up against the cold in the same sort of clothes, with men sometimes wearing women’s fur coats and women wearing men’s trousers. Even so, men died more rapidly than women because their bodies stored less fat. In a bizarre side effect, dystrophy made boys and girls begin to grow facial hair. The seventeen-year- old Elena Mukhina described herself as looking like an “old man.” This prompted a number of diarists to wonder who they really were. In the History Museum of St. Petersburg there is a sequence of identity card photographs of a young woman called Nina Petrova, who appears to age ﬁfty years in just over sixteen months. Medical interest in the process of starvation in Leningrad was intense, yet Soviet doctors do not appear to have discovered what the Germans found when the German Sixth Army was encircled at Stalingrad. On December 17, 1942, the army pathologist Dr. Hans 43 Inevitably, there is a certain overlap in source material and information between Peri’s and Yarov’s books. But the late Professor Yarov, a native of Leningrad, develops a rather different 44 approach to great effect, using wider sources. “This is a book,” he writes, “about the price that had to be paid in order to remain human in a time of inhumanity.” He takes up that fundamental question: Are our ideas of civilization and natural justice merely a thin veneer when put to the extreme test of starvation? Even within the family, the temptation to steal food could be overwhelming. The ration collectors might eat part of it on the way home and then claim that they had been shortchanged at the store, or attacked and robbed. People would keep corpses in an apartment to take advantage of the deceased person’s ration card. Another uncomfortable truth was that those who played entirely by the rules were unlikely to live. One way to survive was ade wife.” This would be the mistress of some ofﬁcial or senior manager in the supply system who could provide her all the food needed to keep her attractive. She was the equivalent of the “campaign wife” in the Red Army, known as a PPZh (short for pokhodnopolevaya zhena, because it sounded like PPSh, the army’s standard submachinegun), who was usually an attractive young nurse or signaler appropriated by a senior ofﬁcer against her will. One “blockade wife” who unwisely exposed her healthy ﬂesh in a bania, or public bath, among the skeletal bodies was teased by a bony woman: “Hey, beauty—don’t come here, we might eat you!” She screamed and ran. There was a sharp class divide between the few who maintained normal weight and the famished masses who Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images Girgensohn was ﬂown into the Kessel, or “cauldron,” as the Germans called it, to discover why unwounded soldiers were dying so rapidly. He carried out more than ﬁfty autopsies and many interviews. Death from starvation, he observed, was undramatic. His study of the phenomenon of accelerated starvation showed that the combination of intense cold, stress, and exhaustion so upset the metabolism that the bodies of the victims had been able to absorb only half the calories and vitamins they had consumed. He pointed out that even though these soldiers received some food every day, they were still dying far more quickly than hungerstrikers in prison who took only water. Almost all the diarists described how hard it was to stop themselves from thinking about food the entire time. The obsession became dangerous and disorienting. The medical student Zinaida Sedel’nikova wrote of “a stomach war.” “I never thought that a hungry stomach could dictate behavior so powerfully,” she wrote. People developed a more acute sense of smell and taste, a great disadvantage amid the squalor and the degraded food, with bread bulked out with sawdust. Their reﬂexes slowed, and muscle control was reduced due to Vitamin B deﬁciency. Their eyesight deteriorated and their legs weakened as they swelled, so it became increasingly hard to stand for endless hours in food lines or tow a child’s sled with the corpse of a family member to the cemetery or morgue. Those privileged to receive a Category I ration card or enjoy access to a Communist Party canteen were far less likely to suffer. Only 15 percent of Party members died, as opposed to nearly 40 percent of the general population, and none of the nomenklatura died from starvation. At the other end of the scale, teenagers, who received the lowest ofﬁcial ration as “dependents,” were especially vulnerable. A Category III ration card was known as a smertnik, or death certiﬁcate. Children, on the other hand, were given priority with a butter ration. Malnutrition, and the stress within families over dividing up the food, could produce paranoia. Every crumb counted. Resentments mounted and could destroy marriages. Death was a relief to the sufferer and all too often to the rest of the family, which then had one less mouth to feed. Grief and guilt would come only once the famine was over and former emotions were restored. The instinct of mothers to give part of their own share of food to their children had to be balanced against the fact that they were usually the ration collector, and if they fainted from hunger in the street, the rest of the family might die. Roles, however, were sometimes reversed, with quite young children trying to care for parents who had collapsed. Whole families as well as individuals died unnoticed in frozen apartments. One woman who searched for surviving children in apparently abandoned dwellings was shocked at their indifference. “A person would be lying in bed beside a dead family member, in a state of complete torpor,” she wrote. Dmitry Shostakovich during the siege of Leningrad, 1941 to obtain work in the food distribution network or in catering. In orphanages the staff stole from the children. Workers in canteens never seemed to lose much weight, prompting their customers to count how many pieces of macaroni they could ﬁnd in a bowl of watery soup. But it was dangerous for individuals to raise accusations against people with such power. The only time common outrage provoked collective action was against people who jumped a line outside a bakery. Among the most despicable were those who stole ration cards, thus condemning the rightful owner to death, or those who snatched food from the hands of the old or inﬁrm as they emerged from the store. Nobody went to the aid of these victims for fear of losing one’s place in line. There were cases of people setting off air raid sirens to reduce the number of people waiting ahead of them, or spreading rumors of unlimited food available at another store. People would step over anyone who collapsed in line, while those who fainted from hunger in the street were liable to have their ration card stolen. Ofﬁcials managing the evacuation from the city across Lake Ladoga used their position to extract bribes from people wanting to leave. In times of hunger, the possession of food has always been both an important currency and a form of exploitable power. Among the shufﬂing skeletons of Leningrad, Peri writes, conspicuously young women who had not suffered deprivation stood out. These included the “cafeteria girls” and the sarcastically named blokadnaia zhena, or “block- suffered from swollen legs, infestations of lice, and purple blotches from scurvy. “Anyone who does not look starved is a scoundrel,” wrote Izrail Metter. The true extent of cannibalism during the siege is very hard to assess, largely because lurid urban myths spread about neighbors murdering children to eat them. Some 1,700 people were arrested for the crime, but there is a marked moral difference between eating the carcass of a person who has already died and killing someone for his ﬂesh. The authorities, however, ﬁrmly suppressed any mention of either crime since both clearly undermined the Party line that the resistance had been heroic. Any idea of self-improvement toward the New Soviet Person was grotesque in the circumstances of Leningrad. Peri brings out this contradiction well. From 1937 on the individual was responsible for his own condition. Leningraders were supposedly New Soviet People “born in the ﬁre of war,” according to the journalist Nikolai Tikhonov. But the notion of physical perfectibility was taken to a grotesque conclusion after the war when limbless veterans of the Red Army, known as “samovars,” were exiled from major cities and dumped out of sight by a shockingly ungrateful government. Sergey Yarov is rightly fascinated by the minutiae of morality. In such conditions, a sense of right and wrong became much more acute. Already famished people who broke off part of their bread ration and gave it to a stranger in a worse state would be re- membered warmly for their sacriﬁce. Those on a Category I ration who hoarded food for an emergency when those around them were dying would be seen as unforgivably selﬁsh. This clearly became an insane obsession: a number of people starved to death because they didn’t dare touch their miserly reserves. The worst crime in the eyes of almost everyone was to steal food from children. Yarov develops his examples under such headings as “The concept of honesty,” “Charity,” “Attitudes to theft,” and “The shifting boundaries of ethics.” He looks at moral choices, moral imperatives, and moral blindness. Certain ethical dilemmas arose frequently. Was it, for instance, worth wasting food on somebody who was going to die anyway? Yarov is particularly good on how standards shifted. “A part was played also by the ‘collective’ nature of the ordeal people were experiencing,” he writes. “It was difﬁcult to be the ﬁrst to decide to behave immorally, but once that was being done by other citizens, immoral acts did not seem so terrible.” Several diarists were struck that, amid the grandeur of former St. Petersburg, they had been thrown back to a primitive state. “We are like cave dwellers waiting to see the sun,” wrote Dima Afanas’ev, a sixth-grader. In her new book, Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster, Polina Barskova uses source material similar to Peri’s and Yarov’s, but her purpose is to “assess how people subjected to catastrophic events relate to their cultural and physical environment.” Barskova has also edited Written in the Dark, a collection of poems by ﬁve writers who experienced the siege. One poem by Pavel Zaltsman describes the “canteen girls”: In heels and pilfered silks, In the basement kitchens, Stirring pots and cooking meals, Stand the most vile creatures. And these creatures paint their lips Over cow’s tongue gathered, As, abundantly, the milk Fills their breasts, unwithered. Gennady Gor, a science ﬁction writer and art historian, astonished those who had known him with the savagery of his siege poems when they were discovered after his death: I ate Rebecca the girl full of laughter A raven looked down at my hideous dinner. A raven looked down at me like at boredom At how slowly this human was eating that human. A raven looked down but it was for nothing, I didn’t throw it that arm of Rebecca. Amid the horrors and heartlessness, as in all the most appalling episodes of World War II, the stories of selfsacriﬁce and unpredictable compassion from strangers just manage to save the reader from complete despair at the human race. A Red Army ofﬁcer took pity on a schoolgirl, G. N. Ignatova. “He took me to the army commanders’ dining room and gave me his meal,” she recounted. “He sat there, crying. Later I was told two of his children were in [German] occupied territory.” The New York Review An Anglo-Irish Cicero Alan Ryan Richard Bourke’s book, as its subtitle says, is an account of Edmund Burke’s political life, but he provides enough biography to allow the reader to see Burke in the round and appreciate the extraordinary range of talents that he possessed. Dr. Johnson famously observed, “You could not stand ﬁve minutes with that man beneath a shed while it rained, but you must be convinced you had been standing with the greatest man you had ever yet seen.” Burke’s origins were respectable but far from grand; his father was a Dublin lawyer, and his relatives included Catholic minor gentry, which made him vulnerable throughout his career to the charge that he was a covert Catholic. Born in 1730, he made his mark in his teens as a student at Trinity College, Dublin, but soon left Ireland for London, and before he was thirty was a considerable literary ﬁgure, the author of A Vindication of Natural Society, a satirical attack on religious skepticism, and A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, a work that students of aesthetics still turn to for its portrayal of our emotional responses to beauty in art and to the sublimity of nature. In 1758, he accepted the invitation of the publishers James and Robert Dodsley to edit (and write a large part of) the newly founded Annual Register, a review of the year’s events in politics, history, and literature. Burke could turn his hand to all of these, and he helped to edit the Register for the next three decades; the Register still exists, and serves the same purpose. However, Burke wanted to make his name in politics. In 1759 he began a miserable six years as private secretary to William Gerard Hamilton, the chief secretary for Ireland. But in 1765 he took the step that determined his career. He became private secretary to the Marquess of Rockingham, a Whig grandee who had surprisingly been asked to form a government in spite of lacking any experience in the great ofﬁces of state. Through Rockingham’s inﬂuence, Burke was found a seat in the House of Commons as member for Wendover; on December 24, 1765, he reported, “Yesterday I was elected for Wendover, got very drunk, and this day have a heavy cold.” The period was, to say the least, politically turbulent. George III had come to the throne in 1760, eager to have a more active part in politics than his predecessors; the immediate result was a rapid turnover of governments as leaders gained and lost royal favor. The labels of Whig and Tory meant little; willingness to follow the king’s wishes meant more; but personal connections and antipathies determined the fate of ministries and their policies as well. Not until Lord North—by then a Tory—became prime minister in 1770 was there a stable ministry enjoying the support of both king and Parliament. The longevity of North’s ministry was perhaps its January 18, 2018 greatest achievement, although he is remembered today only for the loss of the American colonies. The Rockingham ministry lasted barely twelve months, and Burke spent all but a few months of his career as a Whig on the opposition benches. Opposition had its virtues; assailing government policy on America, India, and France, he could write with a freedom that would have been harder to sustain while defending a government of which he was part. Burke was at the center of British political life for almost the entire ﬁnal third of the eighteenth century. In those years, Britain digested its decide whether Britain was a genuine monarchy, ruled by a sovereign with the aid of his advisers, or a republic ruled by ministers answerable to Parliament in which the hereditary head of state had a deﬁnite but limited part, in effect serving as a hereditary president. George III wished to remodel the system in a monarchical direction; Burke was among those who wished to prevent him from doing so. Misleadingly for modern readers, periods when the House of Commons was dominant were described by eighteenth- century observers—as Burke himself put it—as the reign of Siegfried Woldhek Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke by Richard Bourke. Princeton University Press, 1,001 pp., $29.95 (paper) Edmund Burke gains from the Seven Years’ War—better known to Americans as the French and Indian War—lost its American colonies, consolidated its hold on India, found the governance of Ireland an insoluble puzzle, struggled with the closely related issue of the civil rights of Catholics and Dissenters, and approached the end of the century at war with Revolutionary France. Meanwhile, forces that Burke only half-reckoned with were stirring. There was an increasingly evident mismatch between the system of parliamentary representation controlled by landholding aristocrats and the new commercial and industrial realities. Birmingham, already the third-largest city in Britain and the heart of the industrial revolution, had no members representing it in Parliament, while Old Sarum, a deserted village outside Salisbury, sent two MPs. Not long before the end of Burke’s parliamentary career, the young Charles Grey, who worked with Burke on the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the corrupt governor of India, introduced a bill into the House of Commons to modestly reform the system. Forty years later, as the second Earl Grey, he was central in the passage of the Great Reform Act of 1832. T he political system that had to handle all these issues was unlike any other. It was, as Richard Bourke repeatedly reminds us, a parliamentary monarchy. Just what that was puzzled many eighteenth-century observers, especially Europeans. They could not “democracy.” The popular vote only partly determined who ruled. Burke saw the British political system as a “mixed regime” in which Crown, Lords, and Commons were together sovereign; the division of sovereign authority meant that each could serve as a check on the others, and both political stability and executive effectiveness demanded a willingness to cooperate with opponents across party lines. The elected lower house provided the “democratic” element, the House of Lords the aristocratic element, and the king the monarchical element. On the face of it, the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when James II was evicted and William III installed in his place, meant that Parliament was sovereign. William III owed his crown to Parliament’s vote. But the Crown disposed of immense powers of patronage, and members of Parliament were no more immune to the offers of sinecure positions for themselves and their families than anyone else has been. Believing that the inﬂuence of the Crown had gone too far, Burke favored limiting it. Nonetheless, he was sure that the British Constitution was uniquely favorable to the freedom of its subjects; a mixed regime, he argued, reﬂected a pluralist society. In creating their own constitution, the newly independent Americans paid it the tribute of emulating the structure of the mixed regime while eliminating the hereditary elements that were central to the system that Burke spent his political energies defending. Burke did not think the American Founding Fathers were simply wrong to abandon the hereditary principle. He thought that England was lucky to have the right kind of hereditary governing class but late in life said that the American Constitution was the right model for the peoples of the New World. That probably extended to the inhabitants of Canada. He certainly thought well of federalism, and approved of the American concern to provide checks on executive power and to ensure the rule of law. Burke’s defense of the British aristocracy was characteristically subtle. In the original Aristotelian sense, aristocracy was government by hoi aristoi, “the best men.” If they were committed to a life of public service, as Burke thought they should be, a wealthy landed nobility was a great asset; but so too were men of talent, scientists, artists, and literary ﬁgures. A society committed to social mobility would allow such men to rise to positions of inﬂuence. Burke, of course, was such a man. This was the “open aristocracy” that Montesquieu before and Tocqueville after Burke praised, and all three drew a contrast with the French aristocracy, which was more nearly a closed caste, one that had become politically irrelevant under the absolute monarchy, and had been compensated for its political impotence with ﬁnancial privileges that made the aristocracy obnoxious to the common people. Not all varieties of open aristocracy were acceptable; Burke thought a government of oligarchs drawn from the lowest ranks of society was the worst of regimes. One of the counts against the French Revolution was that it had created such a regime, as ambitious parvenus looted the resources of the church and the property of the old aristocracy. It is easy to imagine what Burke’s reactions would have been to post- Soviet Russia. The British parliamentary monarchy had come into existence in its eighteenth-century form after the last Roman Catholic monarch had been driven into exile; it then survived two attempts to restore James II’s Stuart heirs in 1715 and 1745. Its success was no sure thing. Burke was ﬁfteen years old when the second uprising to restore the Stuarts took place, and his later emphasis on the fragility of British political arrangements was not solely a rhetorical device designed to frighten advocates of change. His fear was deeply felt. But the direction from which Burke anticipated threats to the delicate machinery of shared power changed over the years. In his early years in the House of Commons, he opposed George III and his allies. At the end of his life he warned against French Revolutionaries and the English friends of the French Revolution. He was not in general apprehensive about “the people out of doors,” which is to say the great majority of the population who had no part in day-to-day political life. He was, as his Reﬂections on the Revolution in France makes plain, very apprehensive about intellectuals, lawyers, politicians, and demagogues whose misguided ideas and unbridled ambition might lead the lower classes astray and turn politics into mob rule. The abilities that could make such men valuable to society could make them a 45 NYRB CLASSICS BOOK CLUB NYRB Classics are available through our subscription book club for gift-giving, reading groups, or simply the pleasure of reading. The editors will select one book each month from among our newest titles and send the selection postage-free to any US address.* There has never been a more inexpensive way to purchase this series of classics. JANUARY selection You may select a six-month plan for $85 or a twelve-month plan for $150. If you order by January 17th, you will receive Little Reunions, the ﬁrst English translation of a novel by one of China’s greatest writers. This emotionally fraught, bitterly humorous World War II era romance by Eileen Chang was described by Kirkus Reviews as “a welcome discovery from a writer who is only now, more than two decades after her death, coming into her own.” And as Jamie Fisher wrote in The Millions, “Before Joan Didion, there was Eileen Chang. A slender, dramatic woman with a taste for livid details and feverish colors, Chang combined Didion’s glamour and sensibility with the terriﬁc wit of Evelyn Waugh.” For a look at the entire series, please visit www.nyrb.com. To join now, go to www.nyrb.com or call 1-800-354-0050. * Shipping charges will be applied to international orders. 46 Richard Bourke’s book is nothing if not ambitious. He sets out both to track Edmund Burke through every last inch of his political and parliamentary career and to track the sources of his thinking through philosophers, historians, and lawyers from Aristotle and Cicero to John Locke and beyond. Burke spent most of his political career in opposition, and the story of his parliamentary and extraparliamentary maneuvering to try to assemble a winning coalition has a certain melancholy quality. The same is not true of his writings, which even at their most embittered have tremendous verve. Whatever else his Reﬂections on the Revolution in France may be, it is written in captivating prose. Almost every popular account of Burke asks whether he was a liberal or a conservative—on the left or on the right. His confrontation with Thomas Paine in the 1790s over the French Revolution and the rights of man makes the temptation to frame the question in such terms almost overwhelming. Paine insisted that every generation had the right to choose its own form of government. Hereditary monarchy was irrational, and reverence for tradition allowed the dead to rule the living. The French were exercising the right to remake their form of government that the Americans had exercised in 1776. Burke thought that the Revolutionaries had opened the door to anarchy and bloodshed, and was proved right by events. Their confrontation is often portrayed as a victory for conservatism over liberalism; but we should beware of anachronism. It was only in 1865 that a British Liberal Party, dedicated to free trade, gradual enlargement of the franchise, and peace abroad, fought an election under the “Liberal Party” label. Burke was a “reform Whig,” which is to say he looked to governments to provide efﬁcient and uncorrupt administration, promote security and prosperity for everyone, and include economic interests beyond those of the traditional aristocracy. He wanted to diminish and eventually abolish the law and customs limiting the rights of Dissenters and Catholics. He shared Adam Smith’s view of the beneﬁts of free trade and the obstacles to trade caused by the kind of minute regulation that the French engaged in. He was a believer in progress. When he sneers at enlightened opinion in the Reﬂections, it is utopian rationalism he attacks, not reasoned argument. Burke’s writings defend the ideal of a government of laws; they are above all hostile to arbitrary authority. The British system at its best preserved a delicate balance between autocracy and democracy; tipped one way it would become the royal despotism that the Whigs feared James II had meant to install, tipped the other, it would succumb to populist pressures that could also lead to despotism, just as the Civil War of the 1640s led to the military dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. Readers of Burke’s Reﬂections on the Revolution in France are often astonished by his thoughts about the likelihood of the Revolution ending as a military autocracy; they seem to anticipate Napoleon’s rise to power years later. In fact, Burke was drawing a moral from Britain’s 1640s. His constant thought was that those years of civil war and the rule of Oliver Cromwell were a political disaster, while the peaceful changes in the 1680s were a political success: a revolution that would preserve the monarchy, conﬁrm the sovereignty of Parliament, and protect the rights of Protestant sects, though not to the extent of conceding full political rights to non-Trinitarian Dissenters. B ourke makes some telling criticisms of Burke, particularly of his acceptance of the right of conquest. Burke was savage in his indictment of the greed and cruelty of the East India Company’s government of India, and not much less savage about the misgovernment by the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. It is easy to think of him as an “antiimperialist,” comparable to EnlightenJames Sayers/British Library Board/Bridgeman Images RECEIVE A LITERARY SURPRISE EACH MONTH WITH MEMBERSHIP IN THE menace if their ambition was aroused and then thwarted. Edmund Burke as Cicero, attempting to impeach Warren Hastings, the former governor of Bengal, 1786 ment anti-imperialists such as Diderot. But Burke’s view was different. He said that he felt the loss of America as the loss of half his own self, and died lamenting the prospect that the contagion of the French Revolution might mean the loss of the remainder of the Empire. He was unabashed in defending the British Empire as legitimately acquired and held by right of conquest. A country was justiﬁed, he believed, in acquiring an empire by force when it intended to pursue what was called in the late nineteenth century a civilizing mission. John Stuart Mill justiﬁed the “despotic” rule of the British in India as an educational process by which the native population would become self-governing citizens of a liberal state. This was not what Burke had in mind. The concept of an imperialism that would extinguish itself by its own success was entirely alien to him. In his view the title to rule was based on the fact of conquest. It was, for him, a title acknowledged in international law, with a very long historical pedigree. Nonetheless, if empires originated in conquest, Burke argued, they could not and must not continue as they had begun. They must attend to the needs of the populations over which they exercised their dominion, and thereby secure their acquiescence; this was the point at which prudence and morality coincided. One could not expect a population to accept as legitimate a regime that treated them as a beaten military foe or as slaves to be exploited as their conquerors felt inclined. They must be well governed, with due but not excessive respect for their own conception of their physical and emotional welfare. This was not very different from David Hume’s view that most governments originate in force and fraud and are then legitimated by the habit of obedience. It was very different from what was then the radical view that just as slaves retain the natural right to free themselves if they can, a conquered people is entitled to recover its freedom when the chance presents itself. This was John Locke’s view, and the view that radicals continued to hold in the 1790s. One implication, embraced by Thomas Paine and others and attacked by Burke, was that since the common people had never been asked to consent to the government under which they lived, they were in the position of a conquered people; they were entitled to recover their liberty and reconstitute their government when they had the chance. English radicals sometimes invoked the idea of “the Norman Yoke,” arguing that Anglo-Saxon liberty had been extinguished by the Norman Conquest, but their ancient freedom remained the birthright of Englishmen. Burke thought all this was pernicious nonsense. T he running theme that gives intellectual coherence to Burke’s career against the background of the none-toocoherent processes by which governing coalitions were formed and dissolved in the late eighteenth century is his attachment to an ideal of balance—a view that accounts for his hostility to George III as much as his later hostility to French Revolutionaries and their English allies. Because it is so easy to read Burke “backward,” and think that his admiration for Marie Antoinette in his Reﬂections meant that he was starstruck by the spectacle of royal grandeur, it is easy to overlook the depth of his opposition to royal overreaching. It seemed to him that the danger of England’s parliamentary monarchy was that it might tip over into the royal absolutism of other European monarchies. Bourke reminds us that in the mid-eighteenth century Adolf Frederick of Sweden set out to abolish the parliamentary system that had been forced on Queen Ulrika Eleonora in 1719, and in 1772 Gustav III succeeded in reestablishing royal autocracy. Since George III was eager to establish a much more active monarchy when he came to the throne in 1760, Burke’s apprehensions were well founded. Burke’s concern to preserve constitutional balance underlay his defense of political parties. His deﬁnition of a political party—a body of men united by a conception of the public interest—underlines the contrast between Burkean high-mindedness and the self-interested brawling of parties today. But Burke did not have anything like modern political parties in mind. What he saw of the ﬁrst modern political party, the American DemocraticRepublican Party created by Madison, he did not like. His own conception was of a coherent group of parliamentary allies, able to formulate and press for policies in the public interest. Such policies for Burke would have prevented the American Revolution or an approach to Catholic Emancipation. His aim was the so-called “patriot” view that the country should be led by a man “above party.” Purely selfish factions were self-evidently bad; a mixed constitution required parties of principle, pushing on the one side toward greater “democracy,” and on the other toward the enhancement of royal The New York Review authority. Parties needed to remain united for electoral purposes only up to a point, since many party leaders were members of the House of Lords, and others had safe seats in the Commons representing the “rotten” or “pocket” boroughs controlled by the grandees of their party. Burke won and subsequently lost a competitive election in Bristol, but he was safe enough, ﬁrst as member for Wendover in Buckinghamshire and then for Malton in Yorkshire, both seats controlled by allies of his patron the Marquess of Rockingham. Finding safe seats in the House of Commons for people who are needed in government is still one of the tasks of the leaders of British political parties. Burke saw himself as an eighteenthcentury Cicero. In the ﬁrst century BCE , Cicero had been a novus homo, a “new man” who worked his way up to the highest ranks of Roman politics by ability and hard work, and by serving the entrenched ruling families; and Burke saw himself as a man who could assist, encourage, and sometimes berate his noble leaders. Nor was it only early in his career that he took Cicero as a rhetorical model. For seven years from 1788, Burke led the unsuccessful attempts to impeach the former governor of Bengal, Sir Warren Hastings, for mismanagement, brutality, and unlawful personal enrichment. When the case against Hastings collapsed two years before Burke’s death in 1797, he remarked bitterly that the English did not care how badly Hastings had behaved, whereas Cicero knew that the public was on his side when he made his name by prosecuting Verres, the governor of Sicily. Burke entered Parliament in 1765, and for the next seventeen years he was preoccupied with the fate of Britain’s American colonies. Empire and Revolution shows how real was the fear that the weakening of British power caused by the failure in America would allow the French to recover their losses in India from the Seven Years’ War at the same time the American colonies secured their independence. Britain would be losing its empire both in the East and the West. Defeat on the Ohio, so George III and his ministers feared, would lead to defeat on the Ganges. During the long-drawn-out slackening of Britain’s grasp on its American colonies, Burke was at his best as a political analyst. He was very slow to accept that the colonies were irreparably lost, adjusting his ideas of what might be done to avoid that disaster as affairs worsened. He never denied there was a tension between the legislative supremacy of the British Parliament as a matter of law and the needs of distant and increasingly strong-willed colonies to depend on their own local management. A mark of Burke’s superior political intelligence was his highly plausible theory of government at a distance— governments ought not to attempt to govern colonies in detail. It was impossible to incorporate the colonies into the British state; three thousand miles of ocean forbade it. It was equally impossible to exercise a despotic rule over such spirited people; they were, after all, defending English liberty. Burke was not enamored of the behavior of the colonists; he called the council that sprang up in Boston after the ofﬁcial council had been dissolved “a ‘Vermin’ substitute.” Nonetheless, as his wonderful speech on conciliation with America demonstrates, he was desperate to avoid a complete separation. He admired the energy of the Americans, thought the time might come when Britain would beneﬁt from friendly relations with America, and clung to the hope that wiser policies would preserve the imperial tie. When those hopes were dashed, he accepted that independence was the only answer. The success of the American Revolution raises the old question of whether Burke’s approval of it was consistent with his outraged reaction to the French Revolution. Burke’s initial response to the French Revolution was in fact optimistic. It was, he brieﬂy felt, impossible not to admire the spirit of the French; perhaps 1789 might be a French 1688. He changed his mind almost at once. It was the implications for British politics that alarmed him, as Richard Bourke makes clear. The target of Burke’s Reﬂections was the Reverend Richard Price, a Unitarian minister, who, in a sermon on the love of country, claimed that we have a natural right to choose our rulers and to cashier them for misconduct. Burke, of course, thought we had no such right. What was less clear, and what his long battle against Thomas Paine and Rights of Man never completely clariﬁed, was what rights Burke was willing to recognize. In Bourke’s account, Burke believed that we have a natural right of resistance. A sufﬁcient degree of misgovernment dissolves allegiance, and we may resort to self-help. This is when the common people have an important part in politics, one that is essentially defensive. This was the American situation. Constructing a system of government and making it work was something else, not a question of natural right, but of skilled artiﬁce; it was a matter of prudence. Like Gouverneur Morris, Burke agreed that “the people” were the source of authority, but this, he thought, gave the mass of the population no particular title to determine how authority was to be exercised. Paine and Price, to be consistent, had to think of political representation as personal representation, from which one-person- one-vote follows rather swiftly. Burke thought legitimate interests, not persons, should be represented. What might Burke make of contemporary British politics? It seems a safe bet that he would have been appalled by David Cameron’s misjudgment in calling a referendum to decide whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union. A parliamentary monarchy, even one in which the prime minister exercises the royal prerogative in the sovereign’s name, has no place for referendum. The task of government is to determine what is in the best interests of the nation and to govern accordingly; calling a referendum in a panic and scuttling off after it all went wrong is the antithesis of the responsible statesmanship that Burke called for. As for what he might have made of Donald Trump, words fail. Burke had an eye for rich adventurers who bought seats in Parliament on returning from India; but that someone like Trump would rise to supreme power would not have occurred to him. Please order books by using the contact information listed under each press’s name, or visit your local bookstore or online retailer. 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To advertise your books, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (212) 293-1630, or see www.nybooks.com/ipl. 48 The New York Review PATCHWORK FARM PRESS SILKWORM BOOKS FLAME LANTERN PRESS 293 Chesterfield Rd., Westhampton, Ma 01027 (413) 256-0240 email@example.com, www.dickbentley.com P.O. Box 296 Phra Sign, Chiang Mai, 50205, Thailand +66 5327 1370; +66 99 380 6992; firstname.lastname@example.org; https://silkwormbooks.com/ 369 Montezuma Avenue, #314, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 395-4540 email@example.com; christinewarrenworkshops.com A GENERAL THEORY OF DESIRE THE BIG BUDDHA BICYCLE RACE by Dick Bentley A Novel by Terence A. Harkin A pregnant teenage girl is stranded on the top of the World’s Biggest Crucifix (a place that actually exists in Indian River, Michigan) and, alone with God, she confesses her sins and makes a few suggestions on how he could improve his performance. A divorced couple meets in a singles bar. A mother tries to convince a school principal that her four year old is “gifted.” Two executives of an investment firm decide to conduct a love affair for profit, while electronically robbing all Americans of their identities. These and other captivating stories, plus a diverse collection of poems, provide a mesmerizing literary feast! — April Vehslage 0976842122 • Paper, $6.66 50 pages • Poetry & Fiction (short stories) Google: “Dick Bentley Amazon” https://www.amazon.com/DickBentley/e/B002QW95FG. 4011 Vincennes Road, Indianapolis, IN 46268 THE CAT TENDER by Martin Drapkin Maggie Mullen is an overweight 27-yearold who cares for cats when their owners are away. She likes living alone with her own cat, Lucy, and fantasizing about Sinatra. She’s not exactly Little Mary Sunshine. Maggie’s agreed to be maid of honor at her younger sister’s wedding, but is absolutely dreading the prospect. 9781457547768 • Paper, $15.95 / eBook, $9.99 188 pages • Literary Fiction Author website: www.drapkinbooks.com Available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. XLIBRIS Xlibris; 436 Walnut Street, 11th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3703; (888) 795-4274, fax (215) 923-4685; www.xlibris.com GREATEST LIVING POET New Edition by Mark Staber Kobo Madonna has quoted his love poetry at award ceremonies. President Clinton quoted him in a recent speech in Africa. Find out the excitement in the new voice in American Literature. Mark Kobo is the only poet memorized by humans living today. Discover America’s greatest living Lyric poet. 140101108X • Paper, $15.99 127 pages • Poetry/Fiction Also available at www.amazon.com and www.markchandos.com. Preview poems at www.kosmoautikon.com. LEXIK HOUSE PUBLISHERS P.O. 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Far-reaching uproar when accidental sasquatch shooting brings murder charge. 9781633382503 • Paper, $16.95 252 pages • Historical Fiction Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and GooglePlay. 9781592987696 • Cloth, $19.93 eBook $7.99 272 • Science Fiction/Literary/Mystery Author website: http://sasquatchmurder.com/, available on Amazon and IndieBound. SHERMAN PRINTING CO., INC. 1020 Turnpike St., Canton MA 02021 (617) 306-9788; www.jeromekassirer.com UNANTICIPATED OUTCOMES ZED BOOKS The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London SE11 5RR www.zedbooks.net AFTERSHOCK A Medical Memoir by Jerome P. Kassirer, M.D. A Journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams by John Feffer Riveting account of ethical and personal struggles of the academic physician who served as editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in the 1990s. 25 years after communism’s collapse, a journalist tracks down the Eastern Europeans he interviewed in the initial atmosphere of optimism. “John Feffer brings to this story a traveler’s eye, a rich store of experiences, and a wise perspective” — Adam Hochschild 9780692808719 • Paper, $14.95 172 pages • Medicine Author website: www.jeromekassirer.com 9781783609482 • Paper, $22.95 598 pages • Politics Distributed by University of Chicago Press and available through Amazon. DIALOGIC POETRY PRESS 912 Taylor Drive, Vestal NY 13850 firstname.lastname@example.org; martinbidney.com A LOVER’S ART The Song of Songs in Musical English Meters, plus 280 Original Love Poems in Reply—A Dialogue with Scripture by Martin Bidney Latest political hot air! “Barnhart treats each entry professionally, with all the apparatus one would expect in a scholarly dictionary…useful and entertaining.” — Choice 978093636804 • Paper, $42 228 pages Available through Amazon and LexikHouse.com/BNFD 9781544624167 • Paper, $16.49 409 pages • Poetry Dialogic Poetry Press, available on www.amazon.com. by David K. Barnhart 9780999139509 • Paper, $16.95 212 pages • Self-Help/Personal Growth Available at www.christinewarrenworkshops.com, www.amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, indiebound.org, and through Ingram. by K.M. Karrer Physical, mystical, mythical, whimsical, witty, impassioned: mellifluent verse replies to this rhythmic-rhymed Song of Solomon were made for a lovely woman of Sophianic wisdom, embodying God’s own Shekhinah, or cosmic vitalizing female power. World-wide views: love and war in Greek myth; Jewish and Islamic lore; troubadour love songs, love dialogues with modern poets. “Best Metaphysical Poetry” — Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of Books. BARNHART’S NEVERFINISHED POLITICAL DICTIONARY OF THE 21ST CENTURY “…[B]rilliantly instructs us how to pay attention to the wisdom we all possess, and how to permit this inner knowing to emerge from our unconscious depths to the light of daily awareness—a place where balance, fulfillment, and joy are not rare but commonplace.” — Larry Dossey, MD, Author: One Mind. In this groundbreaking transformational guide, Christine Warren shares the core teachings and creative practices on life transitions that have made her national workshops life-changing events. A Goodreads Top-Ten Vietnam War book! Nominee, the 2017 Kirkus Prize “Shakespearian (and) lyrical…An excellent, thoughtful book about the Vietnam War.” — Kirkus (Starred Review) 296 Chestnut St., Meadville, PA 16335 DOG EAR PUBLISHING NAVIGATING CHANGE Conscious Endings, Visionary Beginnings by Christine Warren CREATESPACE www.createspace.com THE WARS OF THE MIDDLE EASTERN SUCCESSION 1914-2016 by Curtis F. Jones A basic reference on military action in the Middle East over the past 100 years, and an unsparing evaluation of US policy. As a State Department officer, the author served seven tours in the region, and five assignments in Washington. Since retirement, he has consulted, written, and spoken on Middle East issues. 9781546685784 • Paper, $20.90 and eBook, $9.99 626 pages • Middle East History To advertise your books, email email@example.com, call (212) 293-1630, or see www.nybooks.com/ipl. January 18, 2018 49 Backing Into the Spotlight Fintan O’Toole Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty Images Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 722 pp., $40.00 Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at London’s National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner. Knopf, 312 pp., $28.95 Last summer, I saw a ﬁne production of Alan Bennett’s best-known play, The Madness of George III, at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. I had read the play before but knew it mostly from Nicholas Hytner’s 1994 ﬁlm version in which, as Hytner puts it in his engaging and illuminating theatrical memoir Balancing Acts, Nigel Hawthorne’s imperious monarch movingly “descends into babbling incontinence.” But I always had a problem with the play. It openly invokes King Lear, but compared to that terrifying journey into the dark heart of a deranged state, it seemed too soft. Bennett’s drama, though full of tender compassion and rueful melancholy, appeared in the end to treat the king’s madness as a colorful historical episode, not as a metaphor for unhinged authority. Yet watching it a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union and a month after Theresa May lost her authority in a disastrous general election, The Madness of George III seemed precisely that: a perfect theatrical metaphor for a national nervous breakdown that does not rise to the heights of tragedy but rather, in its babbling incontinence, teeters closer to both farcical absurdity and quiet despair. Suddenly, Alan Bennett does not seem so soft after all. In his new collection of diaries and autobiographical essays, it becomes ever clearer that he has long been onto something that eluded other, apparently more politically acute, English writers. I n July 2007, The Guardian published an opinion piece by the distinguished Marxist critic Terry Eagleton in which he lamented the loss of the great tradition of English radical literature and the absence of contemporary heirs to Percy Shelley and William Blake: “For almost the ﬁrst time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.”* He made “an honourable exception” of Harold Pinter on the grounds that “being a champagne socialist is better than being no socialist at all,” but made no mention of Bennett. Bennett records in the diary that forms half of Keeping On Keeping On that if he used e-mail (which as a conﬁrmed Luddite he does not) he would send Eagleton or The Guardian a oneword message: “Ahem.” He has recently returned from a cold, wet, and sparsely attended protest against the US military presence at a Royal Air Force base outside Harrogate: “I’m not sure if this means that in Eagleton’s view I don’t qualify because of my ab*“Only Pinter Remains,” The Guardian, July 6, 2007. 50 Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore, and Alan Bennett performing in Beyond the Fringe, 1964 sence of eminence or because such protests as I take part in are too sporadic and low-proﬁle to be noticed.” It may, at ﬁrst glance, seem odd that Bennett thinks of himself as a writer in the radical English tradition, even though, while Eagleton scorned David Hare and Salman Rushdie for accepting knighthoods, Bennett had declined the honor when it was offered to him in 1996. (He also refused an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Oxford University, because it had established a Rupert Murdoch Chair of Language and Communication.) The plays for which he is best known—The Madness of George III, The History Boys, The Lady in the Van—seem rather more inclined to celebrate an English tolerance for individual oddity than to rage against the established order of things. The mental disturbance of King George or of Miss Shepherd, the lady who lived in a dilapidated old van she parked in front of Bennett’s house in London, draws out his lovable qualities of kindness and forbearance. It is not threatening. In his previous volume of diaries and memoirs, Untold Stories, Bennett wrote beautifully of his mother’s struggles with mental illness. Even in a psychotic state, she practiced a restrained kind of madness: Certainly in all her excursions into unreality Mam remained the shy, unassuming woman she had always been, none of her fantasies extravagant, her claims, however irrational they might be, always modest. She might be ill, disturbed, mad even, but she still knew her place. Something of the same modesty clings to Bennett’s public persona and in part explains his great popularity in England. Nicholas Hytner describes Bennett the playwright as “a stylist as demanding as Oscar Wilde.” He does indeed have an aphoristic wit, but dazzling Wildean display is not his manner. The polite, understated “Ahem” that he did not utter in protest at Eagleton’s implicit dismissal of his claims to being a writer of political consequence chimes well with the English suspicion of volubility. Bennett’s Englishness is marked by verbal, emotional, and imaginative restraint. “It is not good to talk,” he notes in his diary in October 2006. “Most of the time it’s better to keep quiet.” Hytner, who also directed the original stage production of The Madness of George III at the National Theatre in London in 1991, experienced this aversion to effusion: “What do you think it’s about, Alan?” “It’s about the madness of George III.” When a pretty girl, apparently rather too wrapped up in her own beauty, crosses the road irritatingly slowly in front of Bennett and his partner, Rupert Thomas, the long-serving editor of The World of Interiors, a Condé Nast design magazine based in London, he is tempted to roll down the car window and shout at her, “Listen. We’re nancies. Big tits mean nothing to us.” But of course he doesn’t. His blurting is all interior: part of the pleasure of his diaries is the sense that he tells them things he would never say out loud. Yet this understatement is still a statement, a mode of privacy transmuted into a very recognizable public persona. The diaries, after all, are published annually in the London Review of Books and collected in hefty volumes. We must remember that Bennett ﬁrst came to notice in 1960 as a performer in the famous satiric review Beyond the Fringe, albeit as the deadpan foil to the ﬂamboyant Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and Jonathan Miller. His dryly laconic Yorkshire tones and bespectacled ordinariness have become paradoxically iconic. As Hytner writes, “Most actors can do Alan . . . not just his voice and mannerisms, but his wry melancholy and boundless empathy.” His very lack of glamour is itself the obverse side of fame, a way of backing into the spotlight. But being understated also means that, as a political ﬁgure, Bennett is greatly undervalued. He can seem almost like a creature from The Wind in the Willows, which, at Hytner’s suggestion, he successfully adapted for the stage—a cute denizen of an imaginary and long-vanished English landscape. In an entry from his diary for September 2006, he records the experience of making supper while idly listening to an arts review program on BBC radio. Out of nowhere, some Scottish woman in the course of telling off the novelist Mark Haddon accuses him of “Alan Bennettish tweeness.” It’s not a serious injury to my self-esteem but rather as if someone passing me in the street has just turned back to give me a ﬂying kick up the bum and then gone on their way. I hope for some mild objection from one of the other participants but none is forthcoming so perhaps I’m now tweeness’s accepted measure. If not tweeness, then whimsicality. In March 2013, Bennett is in the post ofﬁce in the picturesque Suffolk village of Yoxford. There “an ancient customer recognises me and shakes me so ﬁrmly by the hand it’s like being caught in a mangle. ‘Say something whimsical’, he commands.” Bennett in his eighties has become a very English kind of national treasure, which is to say a nicely unobtrusive piece of old jewelry that can be taken out of the drawer when the nation wants to be reminded of its more solid, unpretentious self. He possesses a peculiarly unimposing eminence. (“Well,” a woman tells him as she lets him through the barriers at an event, “you’re a celebrity yourself . . . or on the celebrity side anyway.”) No matter how much he protests or rages, he is all too aware that his compatriots are determined to see him as droll, lovable, and above all unthreatening: I shall still be thought to be kindly, cosy and essentially harmless. I am in the pigeon-hole marked “no threat” and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a teddy bear. To an extent, Bennett does enjoy playing up the persona of the superanThe New York Review Keeping On Keeping On and its earlier companion volumes do indeed constitute a kind of Anglo- Saxon chronicle. Bennett is English, not British. Scotland is another country: “In Glasgow nobody’s heard of me anyway.” “‘Brits,’” he notes disdainfully in 2010, “—so much of what is hateful about the world since Mrs Thatcher in that gritty hard little word.” But his England is not so much a place, more an obscure object of desire. In Untold Stories, Bennett wrote about his Aunty Myra, who “determined that if her present did not amount to much . . . then the past could be called in to compensate.” Bennett would love to be able to make the same determination. When he visits a church in Walpole St Peter, “nothing seems to have been lost, nothing spoilt.” As a medieval historian by Antony Crolla nuated remnant of a bygone country, peering myopically and uncomprehendingly at the contemporary world. In June 2005, he sees a woman walking along the street with a handkerchief pressed to her mouth and surmises that she must be on her way home from a painful visit to the dentist. Then he realizes that it’s not a handkerchief that’s pressed to her mouth—it’s her mobile phone. He buys a bottle of organic wine and is pleased by the label’s claim that it is “Suitable for Vegetarians and Vagrants,” glad to see the needs of derelict winos so openly acknowledged. But of course when he looks again, the label says “Vegans,” not “Vagrants.” In 2010, on a visit to Finchale Priory in rustic Durham, he admires the old lichens growing on the path leading to the south door, only to realize that they are, in fact, bits of spat- out chewing gum. Yet though this self- deprecating humor feeds the cuddly and reassuring image, Bennett is in fact much happier when Rupert tells him, as they watch a movie of Wuthering Heights, “You’re rather like Heathcliff.” “Really?” “Yeah. Difﬁcult, Northern and a cunt.” But he is deemed, and perhaps doomed, to be more teddy bear than Northern cunt, to be liked and even loved but not to be taken quite seriously as a political or public ﬁgure. Unless, that is, Brexit alerts us to the remarkable truth that Bennett’s funny, laconic, apparently quirky, and (yes) whimsical memoirs and diaries have an epic, tragic, and deeply political theme: the unavailing search for an idea of England. Keeping On Keeping On is the third volume of these writings, after Writing Home and Untold Stories. The diary part of it ends with a postscript for June 23, 2016, the day of the Brexit referendum, before the momentous result is known. It says little: “Well, we shall see.” But it acts as a powerful recoil, for it is now difﬁcult not to see, in the crisis of Englishness that Bennett has been recording for thirty years, a personal and intimate charting of the underground fault lines that would eventually create that great earthquake. In April 2008, when Bennett has just given his notebooks and manuscripts to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, he is delighted by a phone call from the keeper of special collections: “I thought you would like to know that this evening your MSS are reposing in Bodley’s strongroom on the next shelf to the Anglo- Saxon Chronicle.” Later, at a public reception in Oxford to mark the gift, Bennett tells this story and adds a dryly comic twist: “The only other time in my life when I’d been in such proximity to ancient memories was one evening in New York when I’d found myself sitting next to Bette Davis.” But he is enough of an Anglo- Saxon to compare the destruction of the industrial heartlands of his beloved North of England by Margaret Thatcher’s monetarist revolution to the harrying of the North by the invading Normans in the eleventh century. Recalling a trip from Hull to Liverpool around 1990, he evokes “a trail of devastation, decay and manufacturing slump that stretched from coast to coast” and adds: “It struck me then that no one had done such systematic damage to the North since William the Conquerer.” January 18, 2018 Alan Bennett, London training and a traditionalist by instinct, he would be happy to be able to say the same for England as a whole. Bennett describes his politics as a “blend of backward-looking radicalism and conservative socialism.” In another writer, each of these terms might seem an oxymoron, but for him they are accurate evocations of a kind of desolation. For, much as he might wish otherwise, something has been lost, something spoilt, and that something is not just an old man’s youth. It is England itself. Nations, of course, are never anything but lost. And Bennett’s sense of loss is not recent. His ﬁrst play, Forty Years On, written when he was thirtyfour, was set in an old mansion called Albion House—the state- of-England metaphor being perhaps all too obvious. It is already valedictory: “a lament for an England that has gone.” Bennett’s Englishness, moreover, is best expressed in his rendering of monarchs (George III or the present Queen Elizabeth, who is portrayed in the novella The Uncommon Reader with a perfect mix of lèse-majesté and affection) or traitors (in The Old Country and An Englishman Abroad)—or ideally by both together, as in A Question of Attribution, which brings the queen together with her perﬁdious keeper of paintings, Anthony Blunt. It is as if the country can best be seen either from above or from the great beyond of treason, never quite in its day-to- day self. In his Yorkshire boyhood, as again in middle and old age, Bennett haunted medieval churches, drawn to their odd remnants of a vanished Catholic world, to “the dregs of history,” the accidental survivals of the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries. This attraction to poignant survivals is part of what makes so touching what could otherwise be unbearably dull and precious—the many diary entries in which Bennett and Rupert drive to some rustic old church, admire the medieval rood lofts, spy out some obscure tracery, or complain about some botched restoration job, then eat their homemade sandwiches. Bennett is not really an antiquarian. He is well aware that these churches are not some kind of hidden essence of the real England. They are merely, as he suggests at one point, “a metaphor for an ex-England maybe.” Ex-England is Bennett’s country. Or as he fears, “England dismantled.” Even as he consumes English heritage, Bennett is acutely conscious of, and very funny about, the way this heritage has been repackaged for consumption. The countryside he loves is “now renovated and bijou- d.” For all the accusations of “Alan Bennettish tweeness,” he is in truth hilariously alert to the self- consciously quaint. “The village shop” in Lacock, Wiltshire is, he notes deadpan, “handily named The Village Shop.” He sees in the urban customers drawn to the farmers’ markets and trendy cheese shops that have occupied those villages “the middle class . . . hugging themselves in selfcongratulation at the perfection of their lives.” At one point, while painting a wall in his house, he thinks of images he’s seen on television of IRA men held at the notorious Maze Prison in Northern Ireland during their “dirty protest” in the 1970s and 1980s, smearing excrement on the walls of their cells: “I was invariably struck by what a nice warm and varied shade the protester had achieved. ‘Maze brown’ I suppose Farrow & Ball would tastefully have called it”—Farrow and Ball paints being the wonderfully expensive expressions of an imagined English tradition of exquisitely understated elegance. On the surface, Bennett’s sense of dislocation is merely aesthetic. He sometimes sounds like Prince Charles in his grumbling about modern architects and “the dismal record of mediocre architecture which has ruined so many English towns.” He bemoans “the nastiﬁcation of England” as a matter of “bad windows, crude pointing, poor stonework.” But it is really the political architecture that he has fallen out of love with. His lament for England is not a mere tragedy of manners. It is a mourning for “a society systematically broken by Mrs Thatcher” and not adequately rebuilt by Tony Blair’s New Labour project. When Blair, on his retirement as prime minister in May 2007, claims that he leaves behind “a country . . . at home in its own skin,” Bennett is enraged: “This is virtually the opposite of what the last ﬁve years in particular have made me feel.” Bennett is supposed to embody a cozy kind of Englishness, but in fact he comes to represent a country that is not at all at home in its own skin, a nation retreating before the onslaught of a rapacious capitalism: “Less and less are we a nation and more and more just a captive market to be exploited.” The closer Keeping On Keeping On comes to the present time from its beginnings in 2005, the more evident this becomes. Near the start, in a diary entry of March 2005, Bennett refers to “all one’s complicated feelings about England I hold back,” but that incli- nation to hold back quickly loses its grip. Four months later he is already broaching the possibility that he might be “ashamed to be English.” This is almost as shocking as if it were uttered in her Christmas message by the queen herself. One cannot but feel a pang of pity for a country whose love for this national treasure is becoming more and more bluntly unrequited. T he drama of Keeping On Keeping On is that the reader begins to realize that the past Bennett is so touchingly and so hopelessly searching for is not actually all that long gone. It is not quaint villages and medieval stained glass. It is social democracy. It is England not as a mystical nation but as a functioning and nurturing state. The fragments to which he is really drawn are the poignant survivors, not of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Catholic monasteries and the destruction of the old religion’s physical imagery, but of the neoliberal revolution of the 1980s. In a sermon he delivered in Cambridge in 2014, the text of which is published in the book, he comes to the realization that his haunting of old churches is really a personal political metaphor: In my bleaker moments these shards of history seem to me emblematic obviously of what has happened to England in the past but also a reminder and a warning of what in other respects is continuing to happen in the present, with the fabric of the state and the welfare state in particular stealthily dismantled as once the fabric of churches more rudely was, sold off, farmed out; another Dissolution. This would be an odd, one might even say a whimsical, conjunction, were it not also a moving and meaningful one. When Bennett is looking at ﬁfteenthcentury bench ends or alabaster tomb chests or the fragments of stained glass that were sufﬁciently inaccessible to escape the Puritan iconoclast’s hammer, he is actually seeing the fragments of social democracy: public libraries, free universities, the national health service. Since his country is the welfare state, it is not surprising that his England is becoming an ex-England, deﬁned by a phony notion of heritage in which, as he puts it, “We glory in Shakespeare yet we close our public libraries.” Bennett was himself a perfect beneﬁciary of postwar social democracy, privileged enough to be able to take full advantage of all its opportunities for self-advancement, underprivileged enough to need them. He grew up in a “comparatively genteel” suburb of Leeds. His father’s butcher shop was Bennett’s High Class Meat Purveyors of Otley Road. “We no more made the lower grade than we did a higher one.” But he had free, high- quality secondary education, free or cheap concert halls, libraries, and galleries, the BBC, free university education at Oxford, a theatrical career that took off in an England where to be working- or middleclass and from the previously shunned North was suddenly fashionable. And he does not want to forget any of this. While Mrs. Thatcher was superbly dismissive of “the Nanny State,” Bennett knows that “I was lucky in my time and I’m grateful to have been nannied.” His old man’s memories are not 51 harmless nostalgia. They are the most subversive of recollections, the recalling of a past in which the state created possibilities for its citizens: “Whereas nowadays the state is a dirty word, for my generation the state was a saviour, delivering us out of poverty and want (and provincial boredom) and putting us on the road to a better life; the state saved my father’s life, my mother’s sanity and my own life too.” This state was a tangible, practical, collective identity, an England that transcended imperial nostalgia, class prejudice, and the pieties of tradition. Its slow receding has left an empty space to be ﬁlled by the confused and incoherent English nationalism whose rise was scarcely noticed until it announced itself so explosively in the Brexit vote. Bennett’s beloved Yorkshire voted heavily to leave. The shock would have been considerably lessened had more attention been paid to his increasingly insistent reﬂections in his published diaries on an England that was emphatically not at home with itself. Like the death of the canary in the mineshaft, Bennett’s heartsick inability to maintain his love for his country should have been a warning that something toxic was gathering in the air. Yet Bennett also provides a kind of hope. Being ashamed to be English is, as he is well aware, a way of retaining intense feelings for the country: “There are different ways of being English,” he reﬂects in 2012, “one of which is not to want to be English at all.” And Bennett, when we strip away the wrongly imputed coziness, still speaks for other ways of being English: tolerant, kind to strangers, modest, decent, funny, suspicious of all grandiosities, and quietly egalitarian. Even as his book serves as a highly personal chronicle of one kind of national decline, it may also serve, when the country, like King George at the end of the play, is recovering from its great mental breakdown, as a reminder of those admirable possibilities. Bitcoin Mania Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP /Getty Images Sue Halpern Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott. Portfolio/Penguin, 348 pp., $30.00 Attack of the Fifty Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum and Smart Contracts by David Gerard. CreateSpace, 178 pp., $16.95 (paper) The ﬁrst time I bought virtual money, in October 2017, bitcoins, the cryptocurrency everyone by now has heard of, were trading at $5,919.20. A month later, as I started writing this, a single coin sold for $2,000 more. “Coin” is a metaphor. A cryptocurrency such as bitcoin is purely digital: it is a piece of code—a string of numbers and letters—that uses encryption techniques and a decentralized computer network to process transactions and generate new units. Its value derives entirely from people’s perception of what it is worth. The same might be said of paper money, now divorced from gold and silver, or of gold and silver for that matter. Money is a human invention. It has value because we say it does. In 2008, when a person or persons going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto published the whitepaper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” bitcoins were worth nothing because they didn’t exist. Three months later, when the ﬁrst version of bitcoin software was released by Nakamoto and the inaugural bitcoins were traded, they were essentially free. By September 2010, a single bitcoin cost about six cents. By June 2011, it was $22.59. And while the price had its ups and downs, the overall trend was up, up, up. By the end of 2013, as the idea of a currency controlled exclusively by computers running cryptographic algorithms created and traded without the intercession of a central bank, a nation-state, a taxation authority, or any kind of regulation began to take hold, especially among libertarians and those unsettled by the ﬁnancial crisis, as well as among black-market criminals and terrorists, it was nearly $1,000.* The higher the price, the greater the interest of investors and speculators, which propelled the price even higher. *See www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/ price. Additional sources appear in the Web version of this review at www.nybooks.com. 52 James MacWhyte at a bitcoin trading club meeting, Tokyo, February 2014 Because the software was programmed to issue a ﬁnite number of bitcoins—21 million—bitcoin’s spectacular trajectory seemed, and continues to seem, like a textbook case of supply and demand. (Nearly 80 percent have been issued so far through a computer-intensive process called “mining.”) How high will the price go? The Internet is full of prognostications—$22,000 by the end of 2018, $50,000 by 2020—that make bitcoin’s mid-December valuation at over $18,000 look like a bargain, which, of course, is driving more investment. And this despite warnings of a bitcoin bubble, predictions of a future crash, and an admonishment from Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who called bitcoin a fraud that will not end well for investors. Still, Dimon conceded that for people who reside in countries with unstable currencies and hyperinﬂation, like Venezuela or Argentina, bitcoin might be a useful option, as indeed it has turned out to be. He also acknowledged its utility for the two billion people around the world without access to traditional banking institutions, who are known as “the unbanked.” For them, a cell phone can function as a bankbook, a debit card, and a way to send and receive payments. A website called Abra, for example, enables users to send bitcoins, which are denominated fractionally down to eight decimal points, from one mobile phone to another, anywhere in the world; the receiver can keep the payment in bitcoin or exchange it for digital dollars or pesos or some other currency, and spend them at merchants that accept Abra as a payment system. It gets a little more complicated, though, if the recipient wants to convert the payment into physical cash. Consider the case of an unbanked Filipino woman who has received a remittance from her daughter in Canada. As Don and Alex Tapscott explain in Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World: “She checks the app and notices there are four other Abra users within a fourblock radius of her. She messages them all to see who will exchange her digital pesos for physical pesos and at what price. The four come back to her with different ‘bids.’” She then chooses the one with the highest customer satisfaction rating, though not the lowest bid, and meets him to make the exchange. Using bitcoin as if it were “regular” money to buy things, however, has proved to be more challenging, in part because its value keeps ﬂuctuating, and in part because businesses have been slow to accept it as a form of payment. That may be changing. You can now use bitcoin to pay for a pizza from Domino’s or a sandwich from Subway, a subscription to the Chicago SunTimes or the Dish Network, a couch (and anything else on its site) from Overstock, a gallon of maple syrup from a small sugarhouse in Vermont, or airline tickets on a number of carriers—and the list is growing. My own cryptocurrency exchange experience was more mundane than that of the woman in the Philippines. I logged onto a website called Coinbase and created an account linked to my credit card. Coinbase gave me the option of buying three different digital currencies: bitcoin, ether, or litecoin. Since the $50 I was willing to invest was more than ten times less than the cost of a single bitcoin even before Coinbase subtracted its service fee, I ﬁgured the fractional amount of bitcoin I’d be buying—something on the order of .0076—would hardly be worth it. (Full disclosure: I was wrong.) So instead of bitcoin, I bought .16 ether, and in November 2017, my $50 was up to about $54. But if I cashed out then, Coinbase’s fees to do so would have lowered the amount close to my original stake. These days, transaction fees on cryptocurrency in general, and bitcoin speciﬁcally, can be fairly steep. The irony here is that digital currency has been championed as offering more value than traditional money because it moves directly from person to person without the interference of extractive intermediaries like banks and other ﬁnancial institutions. In theory, that is how peer-to-peer networks are supposed to work. But as more and more money has poured into digital currencies, those banks and ﬁnancial institutions have begun to move in. Coinbase, for example, which now has more accounts than the legacy brokerage Charles Schwab, began as a Silicon Valley start-up aimed at making the process of buying and selling cryptocurrencies as easy as online banking. It has received investments from major venture capital funds—Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and DFJ, among others—as well as from the New York Stock Exchange and a number of traditional banks. Those investments have further driven the everincreasing value of cryptocurrencies. So has—thus far—the ancillary market in bitcoin futures, which opened for trading in mid-December 2017. While this is arguably how markets are supposed to work, the booming trade in bitcoin has made things difﬁcult for the bitcoin operating system, which is having trouble processing the high volume of transactions coming its The New York Review GALLERIESANDMUSEUMS A CURRENT LISTING Swann Auction Galleries 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010; (212) 2544710; swanngalleries.com. John Davis Gallery 362 ½ Warren Street, Hudson, NY 12534; (518) 828-5907; art@johndavisgallery. com; www.johndavisgallery.com Boris Lurie Art Foundation 599 11th Avenue, Floor 4, New York, NY 10036 Upcoming Auction: “Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobooks,” February 15; Preview: February 10-15. Twenty-ﬁve vintage contact prints of iconic works by Lewis W. Hine, including Powerhouse Mechanic, circa 1921, and various Empire State Building views, lead this dynamic sale of vernacular and ﬁne art photographs. Haunting twentieth-cenLewis W. Hine, Powerhouse Mechanic, silver tury masterpieces include contact print, circa 1921. Estimate $70,000 to Cowgirl, Wyoming, 1955, $100,000. by Robert Frank, printed 1980s, as well as works by Sally Mann, Herb Ritts, Cindy Sherman, Robert Silvers, W. Eugene Smith, Bert Stern and Alfred Stieglitz. Martin Dull; Title, 1.06 –1-29 "My goal is simple: to communicate through paint and found objects the many and diverse sensations of being within a non-objective environment. I work abstractly because I am interested in the individual and subjective responses to these forms. In this sense, my work serves as a bridge from the personal to the public, the intangible to the geographical, while encouraging communication and, ultimately, unity." Martin Dull Boris Lurie in Habana, a large-scale retrospective survey of Lurie’s work at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes La Habana, Cuba has been extended through January 28, 2018. Confusions of a Wasted Youth, 2017, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 92 x 45 inches BORIS LURIE. “NO in Orange”, c. 1962 "The majority of the works in this exhibition are entertaining only as an after-thought l believe; their primary intention is to communicate, or more accurately, be a savage experience that owes little to that diplomatic ﬁnesse which all commercial art must cultivate. Why? Because serious art in a rather cowardly mass society such as ours must constantly assert to the public that it is motivated by a different purpose than the decorative or simply artful work which is gobbled up by mass-media man without Indigestion. We have too much sickness in every compromised area of our lives to need art that soothes." Seymour Krim, 1963 Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, silver print, 1941, printed circa 1965. Estimate $80,000 to $120,000. Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004; AmericanIndian.si.edu; Free Admission. Andrei Kushnir, Timeless, 9 ¼” x 12 ¼” Oil Through video projection, innovative sound art, interactive digital media, performance, and installation, Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound presents the work of ten artists who reﬂect on their place in and between traditional and dominant cultures, demonstrating the continuity of indigenous cultures and creativity in the digital age. Transformer presents works by Jordan Bennett (Mi'kmaq), Raven Chacon (Diné), Jon Corbett (Métis), Marcella Ernest (Ojibwe), Stephen Foster (Haida), Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit), Julie Nagam (Anishnawbe/Métis), Marianne Nicolson (Kwakwaka'wakw), Keli Mashburn (Osage), and Kevin McKenzie (Cree/Métis). Open Nov. 10, 2017, to Jan. 6, 2019. The Drawing Room 66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, NY 11937; (631) 324-5016; www.drawingroom-gallery.com;firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Jones (18661959) was an English gardener whose sensitively composed photographs of vegetables, fruits and ﬂowers have been widely championed since their discovery in London in 1981. Printed c. 1900 from glass plate negatives, his tightly cropped views of heirBean (Dwarf) Sutton’s Masterpiece, c. 1900, 6 x 4 1/4 inches loom beans, a single onion, or a pair of extraordinary tulips reveal a straightforward and modern sensibility. On view through January. Winter hours: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 11–5, and by appointment. January 18, 2018 American Painting Fine Art, 5125 MacArthur Blvd., NW, Suite 17, Washington, DC 20016; 202-244-3244; classicamericanpainting.com; Wed. thru Sat. 11 am–7 pm, and by appointment. Current Exhibit: Small Treasures, works by Gallery Artists, Guest Artists and members of the Washington Society of Landscape Painters. Small paintings in oil, acrylic, mixed media and watercolor, all framed and perfect for giving (or keeping!) Also, works by gallery artists Andrei Kushnir, Michele Martin Taylor, David Baise, Michael Francis, Carol Spils, Stevens Jay Carter and Ross Merrill. Our gallery is dedicated to the ﬁnest work in landscape, still life, genre, urban and marine art by current traditional American painters, many with national reputations. Alexandre Gallery (212)755-2828; email@example.com; www.alexandregallery.com. Lois Dodd: Selected Paintings Thursday, November 30 through Saturday, January 20, 2018 The gallery is pleased to announce the publication of a new monograph on Lois Dodd. Written by Faye Hirsch and published by Lund Humphries, this book will be part of the launch of the publisher’s new Contemporary Painters Series. Available from the gallery in December 2017, it will include 100 color plates and 144 pages (ISBN 978-1-84822-237-3). Whitﬁeld Lovell, After an Afternoon, 2008, Radios with sound, 59 x 72 x 11, © Whitﬁeld Lovell. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York. Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams Street, New London, CT 06320; (860) 443-2545; www.lymanallyn.org. On Another Note: The Intersection of Art and Music (on view through March 11, 2018) is curated by Alva Greenberg and features more than 40 works of art inspired by music, ranging from paintings and photographs to assemblage, glass, sculpture and video. Through artists’ explorations, this exhibition hopes to broaden the viewer’s perception of how music can inspire the making of art as well as portray the vast variety of ways in which it can be made visual. Shepherd / W & K Galleries 58 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075; (212) 861-4050; (212) 772-1314; Fax: shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org om ; s h e p h e rd g a l l e r y. c o m . W & K Fine Art, Vienna will be Participating in Master Drawings New York 2018 and is showing highlights, including paintings and sculpture, from the Vienna gallery’s collection at their New York partner-gallery, Shepherd W & K. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1(880 – 1938) The Master Drawings Nudes on the Beach, Fehmarn Island, 1912 even takes place from Saturday 27 January to Saturday 3 February 2018. Further information can be found on our website: Shepherdgallery.com. 53 T he central obstacle to a fully automated monetary system run exclusively by computers is validation: how to ensure that the transactions on the network are legitimate. The bitcoin software devised by Nakamoto employs a number of features to deal with this. The ﬁrst is basic encryption. A bitcoin is nothing more than a record of value—you have seven bitcoin, I have ﬁve bitcoin, and so on—encoded and stored on the bitcoin system as an address. To release that bitcoin to buy something or to cash it out, its owner must use a private encryption key, known only to him or her, which is associated with that account. Matching the private key with the address is done automatically by the decentralized network of computers. If they don’t match up, or if the owner of the private key is attempting to spend his or her bitcoin more than once, the computers reject the transaction. The “miners” who verify and collect these transactions into a block— “miners” being a term for those who run the computers on the network—are also required by the bitcoin software to perform an additional validating function before the block can be added to the bitcoin ledger. Called “proof of work,” it is essentially a computational lottery in which all the mining computers vie to guess an algorithmically generated number between zero and 4,294,967,296 with the correct number of zeros preceding it. Finding the target number takes trillions of guesses and a tremendous amount of computing power. The idea behind “proof of work,” according to Daniel Krawisz, of the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute, is that it is “an added complication, like a ritual, so as to make blocks more difﬁcult to generate. . . . [It] is . . . a means for a group of self-interested people, none of whom is subordinate to any other, to establish a consensus against a considerable incentive to resist it.” Because it takes so much computing power to ﬁnd this number, miners are motivated to ensure that the transactions they are processing are valid and nonconﬂicting. But they are motivated to participate in the ﬁrst place because the software generates a reward: the miner who ﬁnds the “proof of work” number 54 ﬁrst is paid in (an algorithmically determined number of) bitcoins. Though that is how new bitcoins are created, or “mined,” and added to the system, as the Tapscotts point out, mining is an awkward analogy because it conjures images of experts whose talent might confer some competitive advantage. . . . It doesn’t. Each miner is running the software like a utility function in the background, and the software is doing all the computations. . . . There’s no skill involved. When the bitcoin network began operating in 2009, people could run the validation program on their personal computers and earn bitcoins if their computer solved the puzzle ﬁrst. As demand for bitcoin increased, and more people were vying to ﬁnd the random, algorithmic proof of work validation number, speed became essential. Mining began to require sophisticated graphics cards and, when those proved too slow, special, superfast computers built speciﬁcally to validate transactions and mine bitcoins. Individual miners have dropped out for the most part, and industrial operators have moved in. These days, mining is so computer-intensive that it takes place in huge processing centers in countries with low energy costs, like China and Iceland. One of these, in the town of Ordos, in Inner Mongolia, has a staff of ﬁfty who oversee 25,000 computers in eight buildings that run day and night. A company called BitFury, which operates mining facilities in Iceland and the Republic of Georgia and also manufactures and sells specialized, industrial processing rigs, is estimated to have mined at least half a million bitcoins so far. At today’s price, that’s worth around $7.5 billion. Still, it’s not exactly free money. Marco Streng, the cofounder of Genesis Mining, estimates that it costs his company around $400 in electricity alone to mine each bitcoin. That’s because bitcoin mining is not only computationally intensive, it is energyintensive. By one estimate, the power consumption of bitcoin mining now exceeds that of Ireland and is growing so exponentially that it will surpass that of the entire United States by July 2019. A year ago, the CEO of BitFury, Valery Vavilov, reckoned that energy accounted for between 90 and 95 percent of his company’s bitcoin-mining costs. According to David Gerard— whose new book, Attack of the Fifty Foot Blockchain, is a sober riposte to all the upbeat forecasts about cryptocurrency like the Tapscotts’—“By the end of 2016,” a single mining facility in China was using “over half the estimated power used by all of Google’s data centres worldwide at the time.” One way bitcoin miners offset these costs is by collecting the very thing digital money, traded peer-to-peer, was supposed to make obsolete: transaction fees. By one estimate, these fees have risen 1,289 percent since March 2015. On any given day, the fees will be in the millions of dollars and now cost upward of twenty dollars per transaction. While transaction fees are not mandatory, they are a way for users to attempt to jump the queue in a system rife with bottlenecks, since those who offer miners a fee to have their transactions included in a block have a bet- ter chance of that happening. With so many transactions lined up, waiting to be processed, miners have discretion over which will make it to the head of the line; the higher the fee, the more likely it is to be chosen. As the explanatory website Unlock Blockchain puts it: “when miners mine a block, they become temporary dictators of that block. If you want your transactions to go through, you will have to pay a toll to the miner in charge. . . . The higher the transaction fees, the faster the miners will put [the transactions] up in their block.” As a consequence, transactions can be held up for hours or days or dropped altogether. B itcoin’s high transaction fees and slow transaction times were two of the Thomas Nast way. What began as a structural feature of bitcoin software—that only onemegabyte blocks of transaction data (currently 2,200 to 2,500 transactions on average) could be processed every ten minutes—has become a structural obstacle, as transactions get bottlenecked and the speed at which new ones can be resolved slows to a crawl. One day this past December, for instance, trafﬁc in bitcoin was so overwhelming that many Coinbase account holders were unable to log into their accounts. Even when it is working smoothly, the bitcoin network is only able to process seven transactions per second. By contrast, PayPal processes 193, and Visa 1,667. If there is any chance of bitcoin becoming a commercially viable method of payment, it will have to scale up. But scaling up will require a structural change, and since bitcoin software is an open source project with no central authority, amendments to it are ceded to the voluntary developer community. So far, numerous solutions to the scalability issue have been debated, but no consensus has emerged. reasons I chose to buy ether. But there was another reason as well: while bitcoin was invented to bypass traditional currency by tendering a new kind of money, ether, another cryptocurrency that can be bought, sold, and used to purchase goods and services, was created to raise capital to fund a project called the Ethereum network. The principals behind it are building out what is being trumpeted as the next iteration of the Internet, Web 3.0, also known as “the blockchain.” A blockchain is, essentially, a way of moving information between parties over the Internet and storing that information and its transaction history on a disparate network of computers. Bitcoin, for example, operates on a blockchain: as transactions are aggregated into blocks, each block is assigned a unique cryptographic signature called a “hash.” Once the validating cryptographic puzzle for the latest block has been solved by a mining computer, three things happen: the result is timestamped, the new block is linked irrevocably to the blocks before and after it by its unique hash, and the block and its hash are posted to all the other computers that were attempting to solve the puzzle. This decentralized network of computers is the repository of the immutable ledger of bitcoin transactions. As the Tapscotts observe, “If you wanted to steal a bitcoin, you’d have to rewrite the coin’s entire history on the blockchain in broad daylight.” While bitcoin operates on a blockchain, it is not the blockchain. The insight of Vitalik Buterin, the young polymath who created Ethereum, was that in addition to exchanging digital money, the blockchain could be used to facilitate transactions of other kinds of digitized data, such as property registrations, birth certiﬁcates, medical records, and bills of lading. Because the blockchain is decentralized and its ledger immutable, those transactions would be protected from hacking; and because the blockchain is a peer-topeer system that lets people and businesses interact directly with each other, it is inherently more efﬁcient and also cheaper than systems that are burdened with middlemen such as lawyers and regulators. A company that aims to reduce drug counterfeiting is using the blockchain to follow pharmaceuticals from provenance to purchase. Another outﬁt is doing something similar with high- end sneakers. Yet another start-up, this one called Paragon, is currently raising money to create a blockchain that “registers everything that has happened to a cannabis product, from seed to sale, letting consumers, retailers and the government know where everything came from.” “We are treating cannabis as a normal crop,” Paragon’s founder and CEO Jessica VerSteeg, a former Miss Iowa, told a reporter for the website Benzinga. “So, the same way that you would want to know where the corn on your table came from, or the apple that you had at lunch came from, you want to know where the weed you’re consuming came from.” While a blockchain is not a full- on solution to fraud or hacking, its decentralized infrastructure ensures that there are no “honeypots” of data available for criminals to exploit. Still, touting a bitcoin- derived technology as the answer to cybercrime may seem a stretch in light of the high-proﬁle—and lucrative—thefts of cryptocurrency over the past few years. Gerard notes that “as of March 2015, a full third of all Bitcoin exchanges”—where people stored their bitcoin—“up to then had been hacked, and nearly half had closed.” There was, most famously, the 2014 pilferage of Mt. Gox, a Japanesebased digital coin exchange, in which 850,000 bitcoins worth $460,000,000 disappeared. Two years later another exchange, Bitﬁnex, was hacked and around $60 million in bitcoin was taken; the company’s solution was to spread the loss to all its customers, including those whose accounts had not been drained. Then there was the theft via malware of $40 million by a man in Pennsylvania earlier this year. He confessed, but the other thieves slipped away, leaving victims with no way to retrieve their funds. Unlike money kept in a bank, cryptocurrencies are uninsured and unregulated. That is one of the consequences of a monetary system that exists—intentionally—beyond government control or oversight. It may be small consolation to those who were affected by these thefts that neither the bitcoin network nor the Ethereum network itself has been breached, which perhaps proves the immunity of the blockchain to hacking. (In 2016, there was a $60 million hack of a company running on the Ethereum system, but the theft occurred because there was a bug in that company’s software.) In addition to demonstrating that a blockchain could be used to build out new ventures, Buterin also showed that those new ventures could be ﬁnanced, like the Ethereum Network, by the crowd-funded sale of their own branded cryptocurrency. So, for example, Paragon created its own digital “coin,” ParagonCoin, and put 100,000,000 up for sale at $1 per coin (to be paid in The New York Review $#$#$$ &'(!$!"& (%! +!!&()&#($!,"%#(&($'( $&&('#$(($##('!#'(&)($# $#$#&$"#'!!, RIFRQWHQWDFURVVSULQWDXGLR79oOPDQGGLJLWDO !$(+(*&(,$(&#'%$&(!# '($ ##!'!*'(%!($#$&",$)& #(&!$#$##,$# (# ##" ($#(('((+!!"$*,$)& )'#''$&+& !$$ $&+&($"(#,$)(& DISCOVER MORE TODAY January 18, 2018 55 BALZAC’S NOVEL OF LETTERS, NOW IN A NEW TRANSLATION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER A CENTURY Two very intelligent, very idealistic young women leave the convent school where they became the fastest of friends to return to their families and embark on their new lives. For Renée this means an arranged marriage with a country gentleman of Provence. Meanwhile, Louise makes for her family’s house in Paris, intent on enjoying her freedom to the fullest. What will come of these very different lives? Despite Balzac’s title, these aren’t memoirs; rather, this is an epistolary novel. For some ten years, these two will keep up their correspondence, obeying their vow to tell each other every tiny detail of their strange new lives. “Graham Robb concludes his prodigious 1994 biography of Balzac with the terse suggestion that ‘Unknown masterpieces are waiting to be rediscovered.’....[The Memoirs of Two Young Wives is] a gem of a book, occasionally ﬂorid and schematic yet engrossing, and this new translation by Jordan Stump makes for precisely the kind of rediscovery that Robb invited.” —From Morris Dickstein’s introduction THE MEMOIRS OF TWO YOUNG WIVES Honoré de Balzac Introduction by Morris Dickstein A new translation by Jordan Stump Paperback and e-book • $15.95 On sale January 9th Also by Balzac in the NYRB Classics series THE UNKNOWN MASTERPIECE THE HUMAN COMEDY: SELECTED STORIES Available in bookstores, call (646) 215-2500, or visit www.nyrb.com 56 cryptocurrency). ParagonCoins can be traded for services, once the business is operational—whenever that is—or traded for crypto- and other currencies. In addition to Jessica VerSteeg, Paragon is fronted by Jayceon Taylor, who is better known in some circles as the rapper The Game. Celebrity promoters like Taylor have become routine in this world of ICOs—initial coin offerings. The boxer Floyd Mayweather is the face of Stox, an ICO that raised $30 million for a service that is supposed to predict sports scores, stock prices, and even the weather. (It appears unable to predict when Stox itself might be up and running.) Another rapper, Ghostface Killah, of the Wu-Tang Clan, is the chief branding ofﬁcer for Cream Capital, a company that is looking for $30 million to become the world’s largest distributor of cryptocurrency ATMs. Cream Capital got its name from Wu-Tang’s 1993 hit “C.R.E.A.M.,” which stands for “cash rules everything around me.” It’s now been repurposed to mean “crypto rules everything around me.” For the moment—and until either the Securities and Exchange Commission decides that ICOs are illegal or investors become wary of tossing money at projects that do not exist and may never exist—crypto, in the form of ICOs, does seem to rule start-up funding; as of this past summer more money has been raised from these crowd-sourced coin offerings than from established venture capital funds and angel investors. Writing in The New York Times, Nathaniel Popper tells of a group of coders in the Bay Area who raised $35 million in under thirty seconds for a proposal to create an ad-free Web browser, and a Swiss team that received $100 million to develop an online chat program. According to the website CoinDesk, as of this fall, more than $3.5 billion has been invested in ICOs, almost all of it in 2017, with close to $3 billion pouring in between June and the end of October. “It’s kind of like when you are a little kid and you know you are getting away with something,” an investment analyst named Chris Burniske told Popper. “It’s not going to last forever, but it’s fun in the interim. The space is giddy right now.” Vitalik Buterin’s other innovation was to show how smart contracts could be written and stored on the blockchain. These are covenants, written in code, that specify the terms of an agreement. They are “smart” because as soon as its terms are met, the contract executes automatically, without human intervention. Once triggered, it can’t be amended, tampered with, or impeded. A writer for the Foundation for Economic Education calls this “programmable money”: A smart contract is a tool for changing the world. We have this mental model of all these computers synced together. Now imagine that rather than syncing a transaction . . .we sync software. . . . Every machine in the network runs the same small program. It could be something simple, like a loan: I send you some money, and your account automatically pays it back, with interest, a few days later. . . . We all agree to these terms, and it’s locked in using the smart contract. We have achieved programmable money. You might say that this doesn’t sound very compli- cated or impressive, but just wait and see where this goes. Where it might go is anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that smart contracts and the blockchain itself augment the trend toward automation, though it is automation through lines of code, not robotics. For businesses looking to cut costs, this is one of the main attractions of blockchain technology. “If contracts are automated, then what will happen to traditional ﬁrm structures, processes, and intermediaries like lawyers and accountants?” ask Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani in the Harvard Business Review. “And what about managers? Their roles would all radically change.” Indeed. Most blockchain advocates imagine them changing so radically as to disappear altogether, taking with them many of the costs currently associated with doing business. According to a report from the research arm of the Spanish bank Santander, the blockchain “could reduce banks’ infrastructure costs attributable to cross-border payments, securities trading, and regulatory compliance by $15–20 billion per annum by 2022.” “Whereas most technologies tend to automate workers on the periphery doing menial tasks,” the Tapscotts quote Buterin saying, “blockchain automates away the center. Instead of putting the taxi driver out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job and lets the taxi drivers work with the customer directly.” Forget for a moment that this sounds a lot like standing on a street corner and hailing a livery cab: what Buterin is talking about is actually something potentially revolutionary, as the Tapscotts suggest in their title. Whether it will be a revolution for good or one that continues what has come to seem technology’s inexorable, crushing ascendance will be determined not only by where it is deployed, but how. The CIA (through its venture capital group, In- Q-Tel), the defense contractor Northrop Grumman, NASDAQ, Deloitte, Toyota, UnitedHealth, Fidelity, IBM, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and even JPMorgan Chase, to name just a few, are all looking to employ blockchain technology. So are UNICEF, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and the charity Mercy Corps. The Tapscotts imagine that the blockchain could be used by NGOs to eliminate corruption in the distribution of foreign aid by enabling funds to move directly from giver to receiver. But they also envision it as a way for banks to operate without external oversight, encouraging other kinds of corruption. Either way, we’d be wise to remember that technology is never neutral. It is always endowed with the values of its creators. In the case of the blockchain and cryptocurrency, those values are libertarian and mechanistic; trust resides in algorithmic rules, while the rules of the state and other regulatory bodies are viewed with suspicion and hostility. B oth the Ethereum and bitcoin blockchains are public: anyone can see their ledgers of transactions. For this reason, they are called “permissionless.” The ledger doesn’t reveal who purchased what by name, but does show what was purchased and when it was purchased and by which encrypted pseudonym. While this is a security feature of a permissionless blockchain, it has also proved to be a boon to law enforcement. The FBI was able to catch Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind of Silk Road—the multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise he operated on the dark web through which users could exchange drugs and guns and stolen goods for bitcoin—because after seizing his computer, they were able to link him to the bitcoin wallets where he stored his earnings. They then used the ledger to trace his entire transaction history. Ulbricht is now serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole, and the criminals and terrorists who, before his arrest, had relied on bitcoin to shield their identities are using tumblers—programs that mix transactions and make them hard to link to a speciﬁc account—or they have migrated to cryptocurrencies that promise full anonymity, which neither the bitcoin nor Ethereum network does. Just as criminals want to shield their identities on the blockchain, corporations and other institutions are wary of putting proprietary information on a permissionless network. Instead, companies have been exploring how to adapt the blockchain for business, creating invitation-only, “permissioned” peer-to-peer networks that enable speed and efﬁciency (often by eliminating jobs and bypassing regulation), security, and immutability, while discarding the public and energy-intensive aspects of the original version of blockchain technology. Last May, the R3 consortium—an association of major banks and ﬁnancial services companies including ING, Barclays, UBS, Wells Fargo, and the Bank of Canada, as well as the government of Singapore—announced that it had raised $107 million to develop commercial (gated) blockchain applications. And Goldman Sachs has patented its own cryptocurrency, SETLcoin, to digitize and trade real-world assets such as property deeds and stocks on a blockchain. According to Goldman’s patent application, these assets will be veriﬁed by a trusted third party, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. There is no better illustration of the propagation and acceptance—which is to say, co-optation and perversion—of Satoshi Nakamoto’s idea of a peer-topeer, decentralized blockchain trading network, born out of the 2008 ﬁnancial crisis and an inherent distrust of banks and governments, than a cryptocurrency patent held by an investment bank that relies on an ofﬁcial, third-party regulatory agency for authentication. Meanwhile, at press time, my $50 of ether was up to $130, and Nakamoto’s creation was trading at over $15,000. It took nearly ﬁve years for the value of a bitcoin to rise from $0 to $1,000; it had taken ﬁve hours for it to move from $15,000 to $16,000. This is not typically how money appreciates. Yet bitcoin is anything but typical. It is computer code in which people have invested the idea of value. When that idea, which by now has morphed into the belief that it’s possible to get ﬁlthy rich out of thin air, no longer captures the public imagination—if the bubble bursts—the blockchain will persist. As those who actually control the ﬂow of money—the banks and corporations and governments—know, that is where the real value of Nakamoto’s invention lies. —December 21, 2017 The New York Review Playing It Cool Alex Katz/Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York and Rome David Salle Alex Katz an exhibition at Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York City, November 5–December 22, 2017. Catalog of the exhibition with essays by Frank O’Hara and Tom McGlynn. Gavin Brown’s enterprise, 72 pp., $20.00 (paper) Other animals use tools, but as far as I know, we’re the only ones to make paintbrushes. Painting is a physical thing, like sports or ballet. There are important exceptions, of course, like Wade Guyton and his followers, who use computers, scanners, and inkjet printers to make paintings, but for anyone not placing a heavy bet on digital tech, how one grips the brush matters, as does each ﬁnely calibrated aspect in the chain of command from brain to canvas: the size and shape of the brush, the viscosity of the paint, and the pressure exerted by the shoulderarm-hand continuum, its direction and velocity. That’s what painting is on a physical level: brush hitting canvas. It’s been going on for a long time because the way it links perception with action intersects with something elemental about humans. Painting is no more passé than drumming or, for that matter, pole-vaulting, which is not to say that we all need to do it, or can. Every painter is different. The way some approach the job can be compared to how a ballet dancer thinks about choreography. The steps are prescribed, and the music provides the tempo, but certain dancers have a distinctive élan or vitality that, when combined with the quality known as “attack”—the initiation of movement as well as the accents within a phrase—conveys a forthright, efﬁcient character. Balanchine often likened choreography to carpentry, a task executed with diligence and precision. The point where technique meets an internal drive or intention represents, on the ballet stage, personality in motion. Alex Katz paints real people, as he sees them. Starting out in the Abstract Expressionist milieu of the early 1950s, he found that his talent was best suited to realism, and if he ever looked backward, you wouldn’t know it. You can feel, in his early paintings, the struggle to translate observed reality into painted forms and still be part of the dominant conversation of the day. There was a big jump in the development of Katz’s style from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, as if, when the decade changed, someone ﬁred a starting pistol and the race began in earnest. One of Katz’s primary innovations was to bring the look and scale of billboards, movies, and TV to realist painting. He ﬁrst deployed his invention—the head tightly cropped just above the eyes or just below the mouth, isolated on one side of the canvas—in the early 1960s with portraits of friends like Paul Taylor and Elaine de Kooning. The close-up, the fragment, the detail, along with ﬂat color—these are some of the things that cinema gave to painting. Katz and the Pop artists, especially Roy Lichtenstein, shared a similar starting point, but the differJanuary 18, 2018 Alex Katz: Bill 3, oil on linen, 96 x 96 inches, 2017 ences are instructive. Simply put, Lichtenstein made paintings of pictures, not of things, and in his hands, an image is more purely graphic; the forms coalesce by virtue of the black outline, and whatever illusion of volume we see is clearly meant to be ironic. Katz, on the other hand, eschews outlines altogether; his precise tones map the interlocking play of light and shadow as it deﬁnes form. The overall contour of an image—the shape of the head, for example—is important, of course, and Katz is a master at the kind of extended line or brush mark that describes a form’s perimeter. But it is the interplay of the interior shapes— the areas of darks and lights that he locates within the formal schema— that contains, in his hands, the elements of drama: anticipation, conﬂict, resolution. T his, more than anything else, is what gives a Katz painting its air of sophistication. The way he orchestrates these shapes within a complex form, the way he shapes the shapes, is like getting dressed in a ﬁtted black suit—you ﬁrst put in the pocket handkerchief and then take it out as you realize, looking in the mirror, that it spoils the effect of the whole. In lieu of outlines, what matters are edges—the places where the shape of one color or tone touches an adjacent one of a different tone. It’s been the basis of realist painting for hundreds of years; Katz makes it modern by all but eliminating the transitions between light and dark shapes. This is styling in action: why use dozens of interior shapes to describe all the stuff that happens on a face, when just four or ﬁve will do? “Styling” is the most frequently invoked term in the Katzian lexicon. Its precise deﬁnition is a little slippery; it can mean anything from how a work looks—its surface appearance—to the energy behind it and the mind-set from which it results. Styling, for Katz, is the sum total of the decisions, both conscious and otherwise, that place one in a relationship to the past and to what’s possible now. He can look at a painting that appears to be cutting-edge and say of it simply, “The styling is eight years out of date.” Or ten, or ﬁve, or ﬁfty. Sometimes these discussions of who is or is not on the outermost edge of the style curve can get a little abstract. One evening in the 1980s, the dancer and choreographer Karole Armitage and I were having dinner with Alex and Ada Katz in the East Village. I could see Karole starting to lose the thread at one point, as Alex was speaking. She turned to Ada and asked if, after what was already at that point quite a long marriage, she always knew what Alex was talking about. “Usually,” said Ada. Katz has always been a great reader of poetry. In the burnished years of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the poet and MoMA curator Frank O’Hara was both a friend and a perceptive early champion of his work. In a 1966 essay, O’Hara wrote that Katz’s “‘breakthrough’. . .was toward enlargement of image, a move away from the personal characteristics in the handling of paint, in order to emphasize the abstractness of the subject and the inherent values it possessed, and which he released.” Today a painting by Alex Katz is one of the most recognizable in contemporary art. His portraits are both closely observed and highly distilled—if you know them, his sitters are recognizable, but the objectivity can be a little bit frosty. The chilliness inside the intimacy is the result of two ideas, the classicist and the anecdotal, working in tandem. When asked to name the artists he most admires, Katz started his list with Jackson Pollock and ended it with “the guy who made Nefertiti.” Both are classicizing artists for whom technique is in the service of an idealized image. (It’s perhaps less obvious in Pollock, but what he gives us is an image of abstraction.) A Katz portrait, with its smooth surface and reﬁned forms, merges that tradition with a casual, anecdotal approach that foregrounds its own workmanlike materiality. It’s classicism for Beats, or high temple art for people who live in lofts. Katz celebrated his ninetieth birth- day this past July up at his place in Maine with family and a few friends. I couldn’t be there, but I heard he took part of the day off. Gavin Brown, his New York dealer, marked the occasion by installing a group of recent paintings at the gallery’s new home on West 127th Street. Gavin Brown’s enterprise is now spread out over an entire building, the top two ﬂoors of which have impressively high ceilings, the result of removing every other ﬂoor. The main galleries are long rectangles of rough brick covered in some sections with sheetrock painted a lovely shade of gray. The rooms are almost as tall as they are wide, their proportions somewhat reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel—not bad as a backdrop for full-on chromatic painting. The show contains landscapes, nudes, and portraits, in a variety of formats, but the big news is a group of eight-foot-square paintings of closely cropped faces isolated on grounds of strong cadmium yellow. In some paintings the square is divided vertically into halves or thirds, with different views of the same face compressed into each rectangular sliver, like adjacent frames of a comic strip or frames of a ﬁlm taken seconds apart. Sometimes a head will overlap itself, like a stutter; other times a face will be cropped as if by an occluding frame, but without the additional head adjacent—just more yellow space. These colored areas are not really backgrounds; the negative spaces, or nonﬁgurative parts of the painting, are painted in the same way as the heads, the paint laid down and brushed out just so, without being precious about it. The paint is purposeful and the surfaces look fresh and taut. The space pulses with the energetic wavelengths of the yellow pigment; the citron color pushes against the efﬁciently delineated contours of cheek, eye socket, and chin. The compressed spatial architecture of the face maintains an equilibrium, a stilled traction within the rectangle. One painting from the show, Bill 3 (2017), will serve as an example. The eight-foot-square canvas is divided in half vertically; on either side are close-up segments of a man’s face with a beautiful skin tone somewhere between umber and sienna, the right side of the face and chiseled jaw line offset by cadmium yellow. There is very little tonal contrast within the two truncated views of this man Bill; even the whites of his eyes, as well as the lighter underlip, are brown, though of a slightly lighter tone than the rest 57 Alex Katz/Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York and Rome The Classiﬁeds The Classiﬁeds To place an ad or for other inquiries: email: classiﬁed@nybooks.com tel: (212) 293-1630. You may also place an ad through our website at www.nybooks.com/classiﬁeds/ Classiﬁed Department The New York Review of Books 435 Hudson St., Suite 300 New York, NY 10014-3994 Alex Katz: Vivien, oil on linen, 60 x 144 inches, 2017 of the face. Bill’s eyes are looking over his left shoulder, that is, to our right, and slightly down, and the head on the left, cropped even tighter, eliminates one eye altogether—a fragment of a fragment. The overall impression is of a head hacked from soft stone, roughhewn, umber-toned, with a certain heft and mass. But the rigidity is contradicted by the softness of the brushwork at the internal edges—upper lip, side of nose, eye socket—where the brown meets a slightly darker one, and even at the face’s contours, where brown meets yellow. The painting commits to a radical, stripped-down composition. If you could turn it upside down, with the two rocky cliff-like shapes of softly brushed umber checked by a yellow of almost fearful intensity, you might have an Ellsworth Kelly, but with more sophisticated color. It’s as if a newly discovered chunk of Mount Rushmore were found to also contain an homage to our friend Bill, but he’s only visible when the sky turns deep yellow, making those other guys disappear. Any way you turn it, the painting is simple, clear, bold, and internally consistent. At the same time, the close-valued colors and their speciﬁc harmonies are mysterious and evocative. The painting is glamorous and tight, a sweet/sour conundrum. Gavin Brown helpfully reprinted the O’Hara essay in the show’s catalog. Elaborating further on the equivalence between ﬁguration and abstraction in Katz’s work, O’Hara writes: The isolation of a visage . . . in a richly colored space . . . reminds one of [Barnett] Newman, whose stripes do not exist in an anonymous space because the character of that space, its color, dimensions and texture, equal the slender hieratic signal of the total work’s intelligibility. Fifty years later, comparing a painting by Katz to one of Newman’s “zip” paintings is still a radical idea, and very much to the point. A painting is everything that exists on its surface, and all of it matters. O’Hara, with his own clarity, his own brand of anecdotal classicism, then offered this summation: “Katz is a cool painter.” Cool, and also hot. A lifetime of decisiveness and will has gone into making him so. All contents subject to Publisher’s approval. Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel, at its sole discretion, any advertising at any time in The New York Review of Books or on our website. 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(773) 935-4995. www.DaniellesLipService.com. For NYR Boxes only, send replies to: LETTERS YELTSIN’S WAR IN CHECHNYA To the Editors: In his review of William Taubman’s biography of Mikhail Gorbachev [“The Man Who Lost an Empire,” NYR, December 21, 2017], Strobe Talbott also comments on two subsequent rulers of Russia: Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. Yeltsin, like the last leader of the Soviet Union, writes Talbott, “was loath to use force or risk instability as the world’s largest territorial state dismantled itself,” whereas Putin pursued a “scorched-earth strategy in subduing Chechen secessionists.” Yet it was Yeltsin in late 1994 who first chose force to crush Chechnya’s separatist movement, by launching a devastating war that entailed massive indiscriminate bombing of the capital city Grozny and smaller Chechen towns. Many thousands of civilians—Russian and Chechen alike—perished, and tens of thousands became refugees or internally displaced people. Yeltsin’s “war of choice” to put down a mainly secular movement for autonomy sowed the seeds of the subsequent Islamist terrorism that has wracked the region since and reverberated in places as distant as Boston. In April 1996, almost a year and a half into the Chechen war, at a summit meeting with Yeltsin in Moscow, Talbott’s boss President Bill Clinton effectively endorsed Russia’s resort to force. “I would remind you that we once had a Civil War in our country,” said Clinton, fought “over the proposition that Abraham Lincoln gave his life for, that no State had a right to withdraw from our Union.” It is past time to recognize that the corruption and violence we condemn in Putin’s Russia began with 58 Yeltsin, rather than with his hand-picked successor. Matthew Evangelista President White Professor of History and Political Science Cornell University, Ithaca, New York Strobe Talbott replies: As Professor Evangelista says, Boris Yeltsin’s military operation against Chechnya in 1994 was an act of mass cruelty, and the resulting alienation of his liberal supporters was a self-inflicted blow to his presidency that weakened him politically. My reference to Yeltsin’s aversion to force concerned his resistance to revanchists bent on adjusting the borders of the USSR’s constituent republics to bring as many ethnic Russians as possible into an expanded, predatory, post-Soviet Russian Federation. Yeltsin’s opposition protected the Soviet Union from a decade-long bloodbath like the one that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia. When it came to Chechnya, Yeltsin was dealing not with a newly independent state but with militant secessionism within the Russian Federation. He first tried to quell the movement with punitive raids targeted against rebel strongholds, but that strategy ended in debacles and further advances by the guerrillas. With more patience, subtlety, and time, Yeltsin might have negotiated a settlement that would have kept Chechnya in Russia. Even if a peaceful compromise was impossible, Yeltsin should have found means other than an all-out invasion that caused many thousands of casualties among Chechen civilians. Two years later he tried to make amends by granting Chechnya a high degree of autonomy, renouncing the future use of force, and accepting the elected nationalist president, Aslan Maskhadov. As for the US government’s statements during that First Chechen War, I have written from experience as a member of the Clinton administration. In my memoir of US–Russia relations in the 1990s, The Russia Hand (2002), I acknowledged that we knew little about the Chechens’ side of the story and were inclined to accept Moscow’s, a shortcoming that skewed our analysis and policy. I also expressed regret over missing a chance to persuade President Clinton not to compare Yeltsin to Abraham Lincoln. That said, those of us who met with Yeltsin in the early and mid-1990s could see that he was frustrated and enervated by the lethal chaos in the Caucasus. We had quite a different impression of Vladimir Putin when, as prime minister in 1999, he launched the Second Chechen War. After several murderous and still not fully explained bombings in Russian cities, he ordered a relentless air campaign against Chechnya. That assault was much more brutal than Yeltsin’s war, and it ended with the installation of Chechen leaders so thuggish, violent, and deeply entrenched that they have operated with impunity even in Moscow itself. Yet Putin’s popularity skyrocketed in Russia, clinching his succession to Yeltsin and anticipating what he is and does today. Letters to the Editor: email@example.com. All other correspondence: The New York Review of Books, 435 Hudson Street, Suite 300, New York, NY 10014-3994; firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a mailing address with all correspondence. We accept no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts. Subscription Services: nybooks.com/customer-service or The New York Review of Books, P.O. Box 9310, Big Sandy,TX, 75755-9310, or e-mail email@example.com. In the US, call toll-free 800-354-0050. Outside the US, call 903-636-1101. Subscription rates: US, one year $79.95; in Canada, $95; elsewhere, $115. Advertising: To inquire please call 212-757-8070, or fax 212-333-5374. Copyright © 2018, NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. The cover date of the next issue will be February 8, 2018. 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Read our new essay, “A Natural History of the Novel.” www.LanguageAndPhilosophy.com CONFERENCE ÅVQ[P_WZSQVXZWOZM[[_Q\PIL^QKMNZWUTMILQVO _ZQ\MZ[MLQ\WZ[IOMV\[*W\PM[\IJTQ[PML_ZQ\MZ[ IVLVM__ZQ\MZ[IZM_MTKWUM;MUQVIZ[KZIN\ _WZS[PWX[O]M[\[XMISMZ[UIV][KZQX\KWVT\I\QWV[ X]JTQ[PQVOIL^QKM6W^MT[PWZ\[\WZaXWM\Za VWVÅK\QWVUMUWQZRW]ZVITQ[U_ZQ\QVOIJW]\ [WKQITQ[M[[KQMVKMUMLQKQVM.IK]T\aQVKT]LM ?QTTQIU.QVVMOIV6QKPWT[WV*ISMZ:Q^SI/ITKPMV ;\M^M)TUWVL;IT^I\WZM;KQJWVI0WVWZ5WWZM 4Q[0IZZQ[4Q[I?MQVMZ\<QXPIVQMAIVQY]MUIVa W\PMZ[;KPWTIZ[PQX[NMTTW_[PQX[ )(,!",(($*$$($&*$",)* !%*$$($.$+'$/!($#- WZLWWHUFRP1<5FODVVLÀHGV January 18, 2018 59 New from University of Toronto Press Useless Joyce The Prison of Love Measured Words French ‘Ecocritique’ Textual Functions, Cultural Appropriations Romance, Translation, and the Book in the Sixteenth Century Computation and Writing in Renaissance Italy Reading Contemporary French Theory and Fiction Ecologically by Tim Conley by Emily C. Francomano by Arielle Saiber by Stephanie Posthumus Useless Joyce provocatively analyzes Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake and takes the reader on a journey exploring the perennial question of the usefulness of literature and art. Through the rich history of the sixteenth-century Spanish romance Cárcel de amor, Emily Francomano presents the multifaceted world of sixteenth-century literary and book cultures. Measured Words investigates the rich commerce between computation and writing that proliferated in fifteenthand sixteenth-century Italy. French Écocritique highlights the importance of moving beyond canonical ecocritical texts and examining new ways of imagining the environment. Literary / Liberal Entanglements Toward a Literary History for the Twenty-First Century edited by Corrinne Harol and Mark Simpson Literary/Liberal Entanglements investigates the complex relationship between the history of literature and liberalism. Also available as e-books at utorontopress.com Narratology Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, Fourth Edition by Mieke Bal Since its first publication in English in 1985, Mieke Bal’s Narratology has become an international classic and the comprehensive introduction to the theory of narrative texts, both literary and non-literary. Spanish Modernism and the Poetics of Youth Those Who from Afar Look Like Flies From Miguel de Unamuno to La Joven Literatura An Anthology of Italian Poetry from Pasolini to the Present, Tome 1, 19561975 by Leslie J. Harkema This book highlights the central role of adolescence and youth in the development of literary modernism in Spain in the early twentieth century. edited by Luigi Ballerini and Beppe Cavatorta This anthology provides the evolution of Italian poetry after World War II. It includes works by Pasolini, Pagliarani, Rosselli, Sanguineti and Zanzotto, as well as Villa and Cacciatore.