New Books Network

David Laskin, “The Long Way Home. An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War” (HarperCollins, 2010)
One night my wife and I were on the road, staying in a hotel in I-don’t-remember-where. I woke up in the middle of the night to find said wife missing. Happily, I saw a light under the bathroom door. There she is, I thought. I fell back asleep. I woke... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew” (Yale UP, 2009)
I’ve got a name for you: Robert Zimmerman (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham). You’ve heard of him. He was a Jewish kid from Hibbing, Minnesota. But he didn’t (as the stereotype would suggest) become a doctor, lawyer, professor or businessman. Nope, the professions were not for him. He loved the... Read More
Joel Wolfe, “Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity” (Oxford UP, 2010)
Here’s something I learned by reading Joel Wolfe’s terrific Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity (Oxford, 2010): the United States and Brazil have a lot in common. Both hived off European empires; both struggled with slavery and its legacy; both are profoundly multiethnic and multiracial; both have spent... Read More
David Aaronovitch, “Voodoo Histories: The Role of Conspiracy Theory in the Shaping of Modern History” (Penguin, 2010)
In preparation for this interview I watched the documentary (that’s what the producers call it, anyway) “Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup.” Of course it’s absolutely loony. In fact, it’s so loony that I began to wonder if the director, Dylan Avery, wasn’t having us on. It’s hard to tell... Read More
Charles King, “The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus” (Oxford UP, 2008)
There’s a concept I find myself coming back to again and again–“speciation.” It’s drawn from the vocabulary of evolutionary biology and means, roughly, the process by which new species arise. Speciation occurs when a species must adapt to new circumstances; the more new circumstances, the more new species. Thus one... Read More
Hilary Earl, “The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History” (Cambridge UP, 2010)
Hitler caused the Holocaust, that much we know (no Hitler, no Holocaust). But did he directly order it and, if so, how and when? This is one of the many interesting questions posed by Hilary Earl in her outstanding new book The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History... Read More
Nicholas Thompson, “The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War” (Henry Holt, 2010)
I met George Kennan twice, once in 1982 and again in about 1998. On both occasions, I found him tough to read. He was a very dignified man–I want to write “correct”–but also quite distant, even cerebral. Now that I’ve read Nicholas Thompson‘s very writerly and engaging The Hawk and... Read More