Reviews
Pro-Iranian Revolution Demonstration, Beirut 1979 (Wikimedia Commons)
Turning Points
The Wandering Cleric and the Year Everything Changed

Two ambitious new books—one on the Saudi-Iranian rivalry since 1979, another on the cleric who mentored Osama bin Laden—trace the upheavals that have shaped the modern Middle East.

Surviving Solitude
Why Is Quarantine Reading So Difficult?

A new book by Zena Hitz argues that the pursuit of truth is necessarily a social affair.

Matt H. Wade, Wikimedia Commons
A Judicious Review
The Admirable Restraint of the Supreme Court

Is the highest court in the land prone to judicial activism, or antidemocratic overreach? Not so, says Keith Whittington, in a useful new history that confounds partisan narratives on both sides.

Trendy Traditionalism
The Occultists Who Almost Ran Your Country

From Moscow and Budapest to Brasília and Washington, a network of far-right cranks is attempting to remake the global order. They haven’t gotten very far.

Leonid Pasternak, “The Passion of Creation” (Wikimedia Commons)
The Literary Life
A Sickness Unto Death

A new memoir by George Scialabba, an unsung giant of criticism, is a gripping portrait of life under the spell of depression—and also a model of true intellectual inquiry.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
USA vs. PRC
Our China Problem

Is China a rising threat to be confronted boldly, or a manageable problem to be handled patiently? Four new studies offer ammunition for both sides of the debate.

(Wikimedia Commons)
Oral History
The Forgotten Women of the Gulag

A new book by Monika Zgustova brings the harrowing, heartbreaking history of the Soviet Gulag’s female prisoners to life.

7th Street Theatre via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
At the Movies
All About Eve and the Rules of the Hollywood Game

The 1950 classic All About Eve vividly showcases both what Hollywood pretends to be and what it actually is—a contrast that couldn’t be timelier.

The Diaspora Dilemma
When to Leave?

For Jews, this is the perennial question. A new book explores how Jewish communities around the world are navigating it.

All That Jazz
Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and the Lost Art of Risk

Miles Davis’s classic jazz-rock hybrid, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, still has the capacity to astound—and to remind us what real artistic risk-taking looks like.

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