The quiet man: Stalin

Why the English-speaking world needs another Stalin biography becomes a moot point when a writer as incisive as Stephen Kotkin pens one. Published last autumn, Stalin is the best I’ve read since Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror but not as sweeping, which is the point. By focusing on the early years of Iosif Vissarionovich, Kotkin… More The quiet man: Stalin

‘The coins had to be prised from their clenched fists’

As Pope Innocent VIII tried to die, sycophants performed the obligatory acts of Christian charity: He slept almost continuously…He grew grossly fat and increasingly inert, being able, toward the end of his life, to take for nourishment no more than a few drops of milk from the breast of a young woman. When he seemed… More ‘The coins had to be prised from their clenched fists’

‘I’m gay, he’s black, and he’s older than you’

He was seen in a flash in Selma, recognizable to those who knew by the hornrims and shock of erect salt and pepper. hair. The career of Bayard Rustin was like that: the indispensable man who receded when it was time to take stock of his achievements. But the organizer of the March on Washington… More ‘I’m gay, he’s black, and he’s older than you’

‘A capacity for living with doubt, revaluation and crisis’

Beautifully put: Unlike the other distinguished graduates of Partisan Review, Howe never surrendered the banner of socialism. The fact that he remained fairly isolated in his adherence to the old faith irked him. And it was his isolation that caused him to cling even tighter to the label — “a mantra for persistence and determination,”… More ‘A capacity for living with doubt, revaluation and crisis’

‘I don’t think there is any reason to fear these books’

By all means let’s discuss the influence of Moses on the founding of the Republic and ignore Madison. Texas has made it easier: The Texas State Board of Education, whose decisions can have national ramifications, on Friday approved nearly 100 textbooks despite criticism the books exaggerated the influence biblical figures had in forming the U.S.… More ‘I don’t think there is any reason to fear these books’

If you don’t like the effect, don’t produce the cause: Nelson Rockefeller

Look at the winners of Tuesday’s midterm elections. Joni Ernst? The United Nations is going to take your children and guns. Tom Cotton? The Affordable Care Act is a food stamp bill. Nelson Rockefeller could have paid for seventeen special commissions to investigate every one of their charges and it wouldn’t have changed things. While… More If you don’t like the effect, don’t produce the cause: Nelson Rockefeller