5 days ago

How the Republican Party became Donald Trump

Amazon lists more than 1,000 books about Donald Trump. And only two US Presidents—George Washington and Abraham Lincoln—account for more (over 2,000 in each case). But Trump hasn’t even completed a single term in office, and there are lots more books to come. One of the latest, and in its way most surprising, is the […]

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last week

Understanding America’s polarization and how we got to now

Does the Red State-Blue State analysis of recent US elections make sense to you? Or pointing to the difference between Republicans and Democrats to explain election outcomes? Colin Woodward doesn’t think either one is useful in explaining how and why we vote as we do. Nor, in his opinion, are the boundaries that define our […]

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a couple of weeks ago

The unconditional Japanese surrender in WWII

Three-quarters of a century after the end of World War II, FDR’s policy to demand unconditional surrender from Germany and Japan may seem simply logical. After all, in an era of total war, the only guarantee that either nation wouldn’t sufficiently recover to attack again was total Allied control over their system of government following […]

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3 weeks ago

The famous dictionary that threw out the rules of grammar

My mother went ballistic when Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language appeared in 1961. She’d taught English for a time during the Depression. Then, there was a right way and a wrong way to express yourself. Rules were rules—and English teachers knew exactly what they were. But even back then the linguists […]

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last month

A scholar of Right-Wing politics dissects the Trump coalition

Here’s America’s leading scholar of Right-Wing politics with an up-to-the-minute analysis of the contending forces that have seized hold of the Republican Party. Because, as UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Rosenthal explains in Empire of Resentment, conservatism comes in many flavors, of which the following are the most prominent: Neoliberalism advocates letting free-market capitalism loose on the […]

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last month

British interference in American politics in WWII

In The Splendid and the Vile, a moving and revealing account of Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Blitz, Erik Larson makes much of the Prime Minister’s dogged campaign to persuade Franklin Roosevelt to drag the United States into the defense of Britain. Historians concur that Churchill’s influence on the President played a major role in […]

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last month

A female WWII spy led thousands against the Nazis

Recent years have seen a flood of new books belatedly highlighting the role of women in espionage in World War II. Despite rampant sexism and misogyny, women did indeed fill vital roles as spies and analysts in intelligence-gathering as well as partisan activities behind enemy lines. And few women played as prominent a part as […]

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last month

Two data scientists explain artificial intelligence for the lay reader

Most of the books about artificial intelligence highlight such things as self-driving cars and facial recognition—the brilliant innovations in hardware and software by the engineers and coders who build the stuff and make it work. They dwell variously on the field’s potential and its impact on our lives today. This book, by two academic data […]

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a couple of months ago

This thrilling account of the early auto industry sets the record straight on Henry Ford

At first, before Henry Ford, before the twentieth century, the automobile was not a sure thing. In fact, it was a downright nuisance. For starters, they couldn’t agree on what to call it. A “road machine?” “Automotor horse?” “Buggyaut?” “Horseless carriage?” They didn’t know what fuel to use. Steam? Kerosene? Coal gas? Electricity? Maybe gasoline? […]

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a couple of months ago

How German radar technology helped Britain win World War II

Military historians tend to agree that radar played a singularly important role in the Allied victory in World War II, arguably greater than the decoding of the German Enigma codes (and certainly greater than the atomic bomb, which only ended the war). But British and American sources tend to disagree on where the critical advances […]

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