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Gratitude and Forbearance: On Christopher Lasch

Chicago Sun and the
St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. The Lasches were determinedly secular, and read American history as it had been written by Charles and Mary Beard and the progressive historians—the struggle of a resolutely enlightened people against the lies and malevolence of the wealthy and powerful. The social legislation of the New Deal years confirmed Zora and Robert’s belief that American history proceeded in a straight line, its occasional jaggedness entirely the result of temporary accidents that could be remedied by right-thinking people like themselves. They were immensely proud of their son, an only child, but when he became fascinated with history’s temporary accidents they grew anxious that he would abandon familial convictions. Lasch remained in close and loving touch with his parents throughout his life, but he discarded their intellectual and political pieties as he grew older. He had considered a literary career and experimented with short stories and a novel. His historical writing, at once sparse, even parsimonious, in narrative yet rich in analogies, asides and metaphors, was intended for the educated public and those historians not shackled to disciplinary conventions. He distinguished historical background from political foreground, he was a master of argumentative clarity and he possessed unusual cultural sensitivity. His literary style and intellectual demeanor were of a sort that has become rare.

Opinion | Is This the End of French Intellectual Life?

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Is This the End of French Intellectual Life?
The country’s culture of argument has come under the sway of a more ideological, more identity-focused model imported from the United States.
Credit...Matt Chase
By Christopher Caldwell
Mr. Caldwell is a contributing opinion writer and the author of “Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West” and “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties.”
March 5, 2021
At the end of last summer, Le Débat, France’s most prestigious intellectual review, accompanied its 40th-anniversary issue with a wholly unexpected announcement: It would cease publication forthwith. Le Débat and its three or four thousand loyal readers had maintained an allegiance to the political left since the Cold War — but the meaning of “left” has been shifting. Rivals now claim the term, particularly social movements that arose in France in the 1980s to champion what is variously called identity politics or social justice. After waging a decades-long twilight struggle against these movements, Le Débat has lost.

The political is the personal | Inside Story

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Kerr Publishing | three volumes, from $34.99
Lined up in front of me are three hefty volumes: one blue, one yellow, one green. Together they have taken me on a journey through the life of a mind. Not any old mind — although that too could be fascinating, which is why psychology is always of interest and why novels are written and read — but the whimsical, challenging, pugnacious, passionate, utterly delightful mind of one of the most risk-taking thinkers this country has produced.
All along the journey I’ve tried to come up with an arresting opening sentence that would do the experience justice, the hook to entice other readers to take the journey themselves. But my mind has been sparking like a Catherine wheel, and it’s been impossible to settle on one. All I can tell you is that for all my many years of reading and reviewing,

My favourite detective: why Vera is so much more than a hat, mac and attitude

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In a new series, writers pay tribute to fictional detectives on the page and on screen.
Vera stands on a windswept headland contemplating the disgruntled North Sea. She’s clad in her usual garb; the battered hat, the annoying scarf and the tent-like mac that swirls around her stocky legs and scruffy boots.
When I first met Vera Stanhope in the crime fiction of Ann Cleeves, I liked her, but not so much. It wasn’t until Brenda Blethyn brought her to life in the 2011 ITV series Vera that I became truly enamoured.
Ten seasons later, with series 11 already commissioned, Blethyn has made Vera well and truly hers through a variety of mannerisms that are easy to mock but hard to get right.

No. 2123 The Purpose of War?

Today, hostorian Rob Zaretsky goes to war. The
University of Houston presents this series about the
machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them.
In August 1916, the battle of Verdun ended when its mastermind,
German general Eric von Falkenhayn, was cashiered. By the time the French forces
retook the land they had earlier lost, the casualties were as incomprehensible as
was the landscape now unrecognizable. In the pockmarked morass of mud and human waste,
a quarter of a million died on the two sides, while another half million were wounded.
All of this happened in less than a year on a patch of land half the size of Galveston

Memorialising Indian indentured labour: A monumental Af...

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“Where no monuments exist to heroes but in the common words and deeds…” Walt Whitman
Monday 16 November marks the 160th anniversary of the first Indian indentured labourers arriving at Port Natal. Like Shiva’s dance, it is a journey without end.
For none more so than the Munigadu family of Rangadoo, indentured number 57684, and his children Narainsamy, Amasigadu and Muthialu. They made contact with the South African government from Dar es Salaam on 14 April 1922 when Munigadu was seeking re-entry into South Africa. Their “contact” with South Africa had begun much earlier. 
The Munigadu family of Rangadoo
Munigadu was 21 when he first arrived in Natal from north Arcot on the Congella in March 1895. He was assigned to the Natal Central Sugar Company in Mount Edgecombe. A shipmate, Mangai, was assigned to the same employer and they married shortly after. Mangai died in 1904 soon after and Munigadu married Thayi Chinna Kistadoo.  

The Black Lives Matter Movement Is Being Written Into the Streetscape

The Black Lives Matter Movement Is Being Written Into the Streetscape
Deirdre Mask
© Tasos Katopodis / Getty
In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, activists and city officials have painted dozens of American streets, walls, and public spaces with three words: black lives matter. In June, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed co-naming a prominent street in every borough for the movement. One recent stop: Fifth Avenue, directly in front of Trump Tower. Joining activists and city workers in painting the pavement, de Blasio said, “Black lives matter in our city, and Black lives matter in the United States of America. Let’s show Donald Trump what he does not understand.”

The Challenge of Freedom – Watching America

Translated from Spanish by Julia Vales. Edited by Daniel Rosen.
Posted on July 21, 2020.
A little more than 20 years ago I was invited to the University of Virginia, Richmond, in the United States. This is the main university of the most important state of the former Confederacy and, as such, it is located in the same city that once served as the capital of the pro-slavery states. A colleague took me for a walk around the city, and as we were going by a beautiful avenue lined with monuments, he explained that they were “our generals of the Secession War—those who died are looking to one side, those who survived, to the other.” And he got me thinking. Not only about such statues, but also about the fact that the victors allowed them to be built, and my colleague used the term ‘secession’. Civil War implies a division in one singular political body, that is, the Northern position, whereas ‘secession’ implies the right of the states to separate only through the votes of its inhabitants. In fact, the most striking thing was that after almost 150 later, the war was still alive.

Why this book on Safdar Hashmi's death and life is a great start for the history of street theatre

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Why this book on Safdar Hashmi’s death and life is a great start for the history of street theatre
Sudhanva Deshpande’s ‘Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi’ breaks new ground in combining history with biography.
“The play is called
Kursi Kursi Kursi and is written by Safdar Hashmi,” said an older actor to me when we were returning from a rehearsal at night. I was still in school and was hearing Hashmi’s name for the first time. This is the apocryphal tale of theatre history in India, at least in Calcutta: an older member in a theatre group narrates a tale at night to a younger member in the local trains which link the city to the sub-urban areas.

Remembering Jean Daniel journalist of integrity – The Forward

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Jean Daniel, who died in February at age 99, was born Jean Daniel Bensaïd to a Jewish family in Blida, northern Algeria. He spent his long life analyzing his feelings of Jewish identity in memoirs, while also producing a mountain of political commentary as founder and executive editor of
Le Nouvel Observateur.
It is perhaps unfortunate that he is better known to English language readers for the latter than the former. In 2002, his earlier autobiographical books were collected by Grasset Publishers in a volume 1700 pages long and his “Mirrors of a Life’(Gallimard, 2013) contains intriguing glimpses, such as how he acquired his pen name. Unlike such French Jewish authors as Pierre Nora (whose family name was originally Aron); André Maurois (born Émile Salomon Herzog); and Edgar Morin (born Edgar Nahoum), Daniel and his parents did not dispose of a Jewish-sounding name to better assimilate in France.

Our Dark Past Is Our Bright Future: How the Kremlin Uses and Abuses History

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For President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership, history—in particular, key events of World War II and the Stalin era—are increasingly a political weapon used to legitimize their rule and mobilize the Russian public. As a result, many Russians are now collectively forgetting historical events that were common knowledge two decades ago.
On May 9, Russia is set to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. This will be more than an act of personal commemoration and remembering for ordinary Russians. It will be—even in the enforced absence of public events—a highly political occasion for a regime that has made victory over Nazism a cornerstone of its national ideology and legitimacy. 

Artforum International

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Rifat Chadirji. Courtesy of Tamayouz Excellence Award, Rifat Chadriji Photographic Archive.
RIFAT CHADIRJI, a pioneering Iraqi architect and architecture theorist, died in London on April 10 from complications related to Covid-19. He was ninety-three. He had continued until late in his life to expound his views on buildings, culture, history, religion, and Iraq. His design days may have been behind him—he had not built anything in more than forty years—but his influence on an expansive notion of modern architecture encompassing bold regional experiments has not waned.
Chadirji was a leading figure among a group of exceptional artists and architects who, after studying abroad in the 1940s and ’50s, returned to Iraq imbued with patriotic fervor and a modernist spirit. In 1952, he established his own practice, which played a major role in laying the foundations of contemporary architecture in Iraq. His many residential and public structures merged a spatial and compositional equilibrium with a set of historically rooted elements, foremost among them the arch and the

Comics and Culture: Illustrating social attitudes and battlefield memories from the Vietnam War

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Posted by TheConversation | Feb 15, 2020 | Syndicated |
By Cathy Schlund-Vials,
Professor of English and Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut
In America’s imagination, the Vietnam War is not so much celebrated as it is assiduously contemplated. This inward-looking approach is reflected in films like “The Deer Hunter” and “Apocalypse Now,” best-selling novels and popular memoirs that dwell on the psychological impact of the war.
Was the war worth the cost, human and otherwise? Was it a winnable war or doomed from the outset? What are its lessons and legacies? These questions also underpin the Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns. But many forget that before the Vietnam War ended as a Cold War quagmire, it began as a clear-eyed anti-communist endeavor.

millennial | Augean Stables

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CRichard Landes The following article was published by MERIA: Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer 2017). For some reason it is not available at that site, so I post it here. F Caliphater: one who believes that in our day, Islam will triumph over all other religions and establish a global … Continue reading →

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