a few months ago

The strategic breakthrough that opened the Allies’ way to Berlin

In March 1945, Allied commanders were shocked to discover that a small group of American soldiers had defied orders and engineered a strategic breakthrough that would shorten World War II. This remarkable little book is their story. The strategic breakthrough: the context A vast, largely level plain sprawls westward from Moscow to Paris and beyond. […]

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a few months ago

An intimate view of Winston Churchill in WW2

At the age of sixty-five, Winston Churchill achieved his lifelong dream, becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on May 10, 1940. Less than a year into World War II, Britain was on the brink of defeat: The British public, its military leaders, and Churchill himself lived in fear, day after day, of an imminent […]

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a few months ago

When did globalization begin?

Most historians date the emergence of globalization to the Columbian Exchange, the transfer across the Atlantic of goods, mineral resources, edible plants, slaves, and contagious diseases that began shortly after Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. Yale history professor Valerie Hansen begs to differ. In The Year 1000, Hansen presents a detailed case for backdating […]

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a few months ago

Reflecting on 100 years of landmark ACLU cases

Anthologies are, inevitably, uneven. No matter how tightly edited, the individual contributions necessarily vary in character and quality. And in an audiobook, the format in which I “read” this collection of essays about the landmark ACLU cases of the past century, the problem is compounded when so many voices enter the mix—not just those of […]

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a few months ago

“The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code”

You might think that an historical account about scholars exploring an intellectual challenge would be deadly dull. In most cases, that’s likely to be true. But Margalit Fox’s tale in The Riddle of the Labyrinth is anything but that. As the subtitle hints, “The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code” is as lively and engaging […]

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6 months ago

The geopolitical reality behind the “pivot to Asia”

Late in Barack Obama’s first term in the White House, his administration began to execute a foreign policy strategy known as the “pivot to Asia.” The new policy was tacitly grounded in the realization that the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the long-standing primacy of the Atlantic Alliance, had distracted the country from […]

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6 months ago

An account of Jewish history full of surprises

If you’ve been taught that God handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and that the Jewish people ever afterward worshiped a single almighty god, you owe it to yourself to read Howard Fast’s extraordinary book, The Jews. As Fast reveals in this eminently readable and endlessly fascinating story, neither of those […]

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6 months ago

Robert Reich explains how the ultra-wealthy have rigged the system

Everyone who follows politics in the United States, certainly every Democrat, is aware that the American system is rigged. In their presidential campaigns, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have made sure of that. Warren is especially articulate and has gotten the point across with great skill. But leave it to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich […]

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