Terrorism: The Lessons of Barcelona

Nafees Hamid, who has been studying radicalization and is part of a team that has surveyed more than eight hundred people, writes, "My time in Barcelona taught me one thing: radicalization is a local phenomenon. Equipping local officials to solve local problems—and avoiding the distraction of easy, unhelpful generalizations about immigrant or local communities—is the best way to thwart the jihadists’ international aims."

Three Tales of Moral Corrosion

Three stories in the news in the past week—Harvard’s treatment of Chelsea Manning, Sean Spicer, and Corey Lewandowski; Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi’s White House dealmaking; and Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon’s planned appearance at Berkeley—cast light on “the moral corrosion caused by the Trump presidency,” says Masha Gessen.

Which Jane Austen?

“Tinkering with Austen’s image has a long history.” Ruth Bernard Yeazell reviews four new books about her.

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship

Perry Link on how censorship in China is louder and bolder than ever

The Lost Poems of George Oppen

“May have 32pp of poems by George Oppen for you,” the poet Louis Zukofsky wrote to Ezra Pound on March 6, 1930. These poems, long assumed lost, were recently found.

Clothes That Don’t Need You

"Dresses and other garments are displayed on mannequin forms supported by thin metal rods, like sculpture," writes painter David Salle of Rei Kawakubo's exhibition. "They are what Giacometti’s figures would be wearing had they taken the time to get dressed. White muslin, bias-sutured Hans Bellmer dolls with steel wool hair, their bulbous silhouettes like Jean Arp cutouts."

Liu Xiaobo’s Last Text

Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize while in prison in China. He died in July of liver cancer, still in detention. This is the last thing he wrote.

A Glove, a Car, and a Camera

The photographer Willa Nasatir—whose exhibition is currently at the Whitney Museum—shoots on film and does not digitally retouch her images. "Her analog production is made all the more surprising by the complexity of her compositions, which densely layer objects, tangles of wire, mirrors, surface glare, and textured patina in a shallow depth of field," writes Erin Schwartz. "The surreal effects happen entirely in the camera."

India: Assassinating Dissent

Mukul Kesavan writes, "It’s reasonable to assume that the four journalists murdered in India—most recently Gauri Lankesh—were punished for their ideological positions. To see the killings primarily as an extreme form of censorship is to underestimate the enormity of the crime."

The Hateful Monk

"The contrast between the monastery’s inner calm and its exterior display of violence is a fitting inversion of its most infamous resident, Ashin Wirathu, the subject of Barbet Schroeder’s new documentary, The Venerable W.," writes Gavin Jacobson.

Beloved & Condemned: A Cartoonist in Nazi Germany

Erich Ohser, who used the pen name E. O. Plauen, became internationally famous for his comic strips in the 1930s, but the carefree world of his 'Father and Son' gives little hint of the fate that would be suffered by its creator.

Kenya: The Election & the Cover-Up

"The US government has a disturbing history of meddling in the politics of developing countries," writes Helen Epstein. "In countries like Kenya, where important US interests are at stake, the onslaught of mass-media distortions, and biased international election observers and Western-backed NGOs, suggest the possibility of concerted strategy."

Indonesia & China: The Sea Between

"Indonesia announced on July 14 that it was renaming a part of the South China Sea the 'North Natuna Sea.' China immediately demanded a retraction—which it will not get. At no point since the fifteenth century had a Chinese government been actively involved in the seas that it now claims on the basis of history."

The Great Africanstein Novel

"Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel 'Kintu' continually diverts us from our preconceptions about Africa," writes Namwali Serpell. "Despite the generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to universal questions. But as its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, 'Kintu' does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind."

Brexit’s Irish Question

“To put it bluntly, Ireland has evolved a complex and fluid sense of what it means to have a national identity while England has reverted to a simplistic and static one,” writes Fintan O’Toole. “This fault line opens a crack into which the whole Brexit project may stumble.”

Making Memories

Israel Rosenfield and Edward Ziff review Luke Dittrich's 'Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets.'

Fukushima from Within

"Kazuto Tatsuta’s 'Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant' occupies a unique position in the history of comics," writes Ryan Holmberg.

The Hardening of Consciousness

"The idea of 'the hard problem' in consciousness has kept us in a stalemate," writes Tim Parks in the introduction to his eleventh dialogue on consciousness with Riccardo Manzotti.

Five Magnificent Years

Geoffrey O’Brien on the tragically short life and astonishing career of Otis Redding

Cartier-Bresson’s Distant India

"Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the most well-known photographer in India, or rather—an important distinction—the photographer whose work is most well-known," writes Ratik Asokan of an exhibition now at the Rubin Museum of Art. "In India, he shoots from afar, with a sort of wide-angle pastoralism or classicism. In fact, Cartier-Bresson made a style out of his outsider status."

A Show Trial in Moscow

"The trial of former Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukaev seemed more and more like a replay of the infamous show trials of the Stalin period—the charges bogus, the outcome predetermined," writes Amy Knight. "While Ulyukaev’s case points to a conflict over power and resources within Putin’s elite, it is also a manifestation of a broader crackdown by Putin."

Why We Must Still Defend Free Speech

"Free speech is exposing white supremacists’ ideas to the condemnation they deserve. Moral condemnation, not legal suppression, is the appropriate response to these despicable ideas," writes David Cole.

Soccer’s Culture of Corruption

Simon Kuper on the shady past and continuing corruption of FIFA, world soccer’s governing body

The Crackdown in Cambodia

"Descent into Outright Dictatorship," read The Cambodia Daily's final headline on Monday, a defiant last cry from a fiercely independent newspaper that has now been shut down by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

Alice Coltrane’s Songs of Bliss

"John and Alice Coltrane shared a conviction that music could be a spiritual practice," writes Andrew Katzenstein. "At times Alice's music resembles that of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in its trance-inducing mysticism; or of Fela Kuti in its simple melodies and propulsive, disco-like beats; or of Stevie Wonder in its imaginative superimposition of gospel music and synthesizers. Yet on the whole this music is unlike anything else."

ChinaFile Presents: 'Asia's Reckoning' with Richard McGregor

Richard McGregor, Ian Buruma and Susan Shirk will discuss McGregor’s new book ‘Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century’ tomorrow night at the Asia Society New York.

The Outside-In Art of Grayson Perry

In the art world, Grayson Perry believes, despite the blockbuster exhibitions at national galleries, "popular" is a term of abuse, linked to populism and unthinking prejudice. But in Perry's "The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!" Jenny Uglow writes, "he shows that craft is also 'art,' and that it belongs to us all. It's here, even more than in his overt political statements, that Perry is truly democratic and profoundly 'popular.'"

What Makes a Terrorist?

Nafees Hamid on the complexity of radicalization: conflict dynamics, profiles, and social networks.

What Are Impeachable Offenses?

Are impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump warranted? Noah Feldman and Jacob Weisberg consider the possible grounds.

Eloise: The Feral Star

Of Eloise, the iconic children's book character, April Bernard writes, "Despite the efforts of publishers, promoters, and indeed of Kay Thompson herself, I cannot bring myself to regard Eloise as any sort of cute. She has always been too much, all hilarious, monstrous id."

Beijing’s Bold New Censorship

"Authoritarians, in China and elsewhere, normally have preferred to dress their authoritarianism up in pretty clothes. But in the era of Xi Jinping, repression is often stated baldly, even proudly," writes Perry Link.

Charlottesville: Why Jefferson Matters

"The national tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville last week struck at every aspect of my being—a black person, a friend, an American, and a scholar who has devoted many years to studying Jefferson, slavery at Monticello, and, by extension, Charlottesville," writes Annette Gordon-Reed.

In the Flower Garden of the Brain

A new collection of drawings by the Spanish neuroanatomist, artist, and Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal shows the beauty and complexity of the brain's ecosystem. Gavin Francis writes, "Cajal’s work was testimony to the truth of Leonardo da Vinci’s idea of 'disegno' as both drawing and understanding."

The Lost Poems of George Oppen

Newly discovered poems by George Oppen nearly double the size of the poet’s early work. “When I first shared my find with one of my professors,” David B. Hobbs writes, “he grabbed my shoulders and said, ‘Don’t get used to this feeling, it may never happen again.’”

Clothes That Don’t Need You

Painter David Salle on Rei Kawakubo’s mesmerizing exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Hateful Monk

"Ashin Wirathu, the subject of Barbet Schroeder’s new documentary, 'The Venerable W.,' is composed and polite, with large brown eyes and a sweet, impish grin. He's also responsible for inciting some of the worst acts of ethnic violence in Myanmar’s recent history," writes Gavin Jacobson.

Loving the Vicious Race

Geoffrey Wheatcroft on the ongoing Vuelta a España cycling race

Kenya: The Election & the Cover-Up

"Another rigged election in Africa is not news," writes Helen Epstein. "But that US election observers were so quick to endorse it is shocking. Perhaps they believed that wrapping the election up quickly would prevent violence. A far more troubling possibility is that the US wants Kenyatta to remain in power, at the expense of democracy."

The Lonely Struggle of Lee Ching-yu

Richard Bernstein on Lee Ming-che, "the only Taiwanese ever to be charged with subversion of state power," and his wife Lee Ching-yu, who is struggling for justice on his behalf.

Trump’s Hoodlums

"Autocrats frequently rely on delegating violence to extralegal actors or on the willingness of law enforcement officers to carry out extralegal violence in exchange for the promise of impunity," writes Masha Gessen. "Over the last two weeks, we have seen Donald Trump send out signals to the vigilantes of his own choosing."

Making Memories

The patient suffered from severe epilepsy. The surgeon removed two pieces of tissue—the left and right sides of the hippocampus—from his brain, with the goal of controlling his seizures. Afterward, he could no longer remember anything he did.

Fukushima From Within

"Kazuto Tatsuta’s graphic memoir of the Fukushima nuclear power plant is probably the first work of journalistic comics in the world to supersede its prose counterparts as the most popular source on its topic," writes Ryan Holmberg.

Trump’s Cruel Deportations

Twenty-year-old Alexis G. was deported in June to Mexico, a country he barely knows. He told Human Rights Watch researchers, "If I were to sing an anthem right now, it would be 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' I don’t know the Mexican anthem." Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, on our broken immigration system.

Ending at the Beginning

"The immediacy of Reiner Stach’s narrative makes it not only uncannily evocative but compulsively readable, and the three big volumes of his Kafka constitute a work of literature as subtle, as intricate, and as entertaining as any novel," writes John Banville of the first volume of Stach's literary biography, 'Kafka: The Early Years.'

The City Strikes a Pose

Tobi Haslett on the street photographer Jamel Shabazz, who has been photographing New York City for over four decades

Cartier-Bresson’s Distant India

"If in Europe Henri Cartier-Bresson chased the 'decisive moment,' there is something conspicuously timeless about his panoramas of peasants and cowherds in India," writes Ratik Asokan of the exhibition now at The Rubin Museum of Art, which brings together selections from Cartier-Bresson's trips to India between 1947 and 1980.

Our Hackable Democracy

"Since computerized voting was introduced more than two decades ago, it has been shown again and again to have significant vulnerabilities that put a central tenet of American democracy—free and fair elections—at risk," writes Sue Halpern.

Why We Must Still Defend Free Speech

Georgetown law professor and ACLU legal director David Cole on defending the First Amendment: “If we were to authorize government officials to suppress speech they find contrary to American values, it would be Donald Trump—and his allies in state and local governments—who would use that power.”

Alice Coltrane’s Songs of Bliss

Andrew Katzenstein on a recently released album of the sacred music of Alice Coltrane: "Alice recorded a dozen albums under her own name, ranging from straight-ahead jazz to experimental mixtures of orchestral music and improvisation to Hindu chants performed in gospel arrangements. Her corpus remains one of the most varied and underappreciated in jazz."

Take a Hike!

On the history of hiking in America

Purple Books