Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Secret History of Small Mercies

The most devastating scene in The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s 2007 film about the East German Stasi, comes near the end when the playwright, played by Sebastian Koch, pulls the wire taps out of his walls of … Continue reading

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Belief from the inside out

Carla Power’s Pulitizer Prize-shortlisted If the Oceans Were Ink, an outsider’s meditation on The Holy Qur’an with the help of a learned Islamic scholar, signals a subtle but seismic shift in our intellectual world.  It joins other unmistakable indications that mostly secular Western … Continue reading

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Joan Didion, Californian

Joan Didion seized my attention early, before I wrote for myself.  Assigned “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” in high school, I read with amazement her cool, detached descriptions of things I recognized growing up in California.  I graduated quickly to “The White … Continue reading

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New Book Review: “Through a Screen Darkly”

I’m happy to post my review of Martha Bayles’ recent book on public diplomacy, Through a Screen Darkly, published this month in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy by Clingendael in The Netherlands.  The article is behind a pay wall but should be available … Continue reading

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Some Dreamers of the Impossible Dream

With nods to George Kennan, Joan Didion, and Cervantes, enjoy this excerpt from my book, The United States and the Challenge of Public Diplomacy about an extraordinary visit I made to Macedonia in 2006 published in The Foreign Service Journal. Although I wrote … Continue reading

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Punk Is Not Dead

Today my review essay of Masha Gessen’s latest book, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, appears in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book is a testament to the courage of the members of the group who … Continue reading

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The Corrections

I found an error in Table 7.2 on page 124 relating to languages spoken in the United States. All of the numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau and are accurate. But French (including dialects) at 1,358,816 inexplicably appears as … Continue reading

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