People of the Book The Unwinding - A History of the Distant Present

The world is 7 billion stories waiting to be told. America is perhaps the only nation conceived on the principle that individual stories are worth telling, but in this era of foreclosure, it’s the nation most likely to walk back its promise to tell them. No matter what America ever aspired to be, we’ve never come… Read More

People of the Book Chekhov Aleichem

In interviews, Amos Oz often talks about the revelations Chekhov gave him. When he first read Chekhov, he realized he could write about the people he knew — their disappointments, failures, thwarted aspirations (and Chekhov, the great poet of the disappointing life, knew how to write differently about all three). Chekhov writes about rural Russia, but… Read More

People of the Book How AIPAC Lost the Israel Debate

Talking about AIPAC is nearly impossible. So many contradictory statistics proliferate about AIPAC that nobody can quote them reliably. Nevertheless, one thing remains obvious. We all know AIPAC’s nowhere near as powerful as its opposition alleges. Whether AIPAC has a $25 million endowment or a $100 million endowment, conspiracy theorists would have us believe this… Read More

People of the Book James Rosenquist Wasn't Jewish

Somehow, James Rosenquist wasn’t Jewish, neither were Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Wesselman, Hamilton, Warhol or Jasper Johns. The only Jew among the famous pop artists was Roy Lichtenstein. Art never got more “Jewish” than abstract expressionism, but pop art was most definitely “goyish.” Jews were too busy making popular culture to think about whether it was high… Read More

People of the Book Lumpen with Talent

The Onion is my generation’s Mad magazine. It is, ostensibly, a satirical website, and a funny one, but sometimes they’re so spot on they cross from funny into painfully true. I read an Onion article last week with the headline: “97-year-old dies unaware of being violin prodigy.” The article stated that she spent her life… Read More

People of the Book 'The Radetzky March' - Don't Blame the Grandson

It’s impossible to look at America in 2017 and not think of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 1910s at the end of its gloriously long sunset, unwittingly ready for the journey into eternal night. In those years, its capital, Vienna, was the most diverse, most exciting, most interesting place on Earth. Nobody knew it,… Read More