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2013 Archive (11 found)

An Unfathomable Genius

November 22, 2013  | 

Johann Sebastian Bach mastered a stunning variety of musical forms: works for solo instruments, chamber pieces, vocal music, concerti and music for the orchestra. Yet his overlooked choral music may be his best and is certainly his most abundant. It includes works of great joy, like the Gloria from the Mass in B minor; moments …

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Days of Fire

October 21, 2013  | 

George W. Bush frequently told his critics that he would let history judge his actions. Five years have passed since he left office, and the bad news for President Bush is that here comes history. Peter Baker, a reporter for the New York Times, has just published Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the …

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What Tea Party Republicans Can Learn from Woodrow Wilson

September 15, 2013  | 

Two achievements and two failures define Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Historians have spilled rivers of ink debating whether the former outweigh the latter. Wilson’s domestic achievement was to pass a major legislative program called the New Freedom, featuring progressive taxation, antitrust laws, tariff reduction, and the creation of the Federal Reserve system. His domestic failure was …

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Big Brother’s Keeper

August 13, 2013  | 

George Orwell toiled in poverty for many years, but after writing Animal Farm he had to start turning down invitations. In August 1947 the literary magazine The Strand asked him to write something for its pages and to give an account of his life. A prolific essayist and book critic, Orwell was at the time …

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Roberts’s Rules of Order

July 8, 2013  | 

In his impeccable Senate confirmation performance in 2005, John Roberts provided for himself a sort of mission statement. As chief justice, he pledged to be restrained, modest, and deferential toward precedents and legislatures; he would seek consensus and not decide more than was necessary to resolve a case. Modesty, he testified, “means an appreciation that …

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Will the Tea Party Die When Obama Leaves Office?

June 20, 2013  | 

Will the Tea Party outlive Barack Obama’s presidency? Or will it flame out once its chief antagonist retires? The answer should tell us something about whether the movement is driven by issues or intolerance. The issues will keep coming. Tea Partiers vocally oppose budget deficits and government spending; both problems will persist after Obama leaves …

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Retreat to Victory

June 13, 2013  | 

The United States did not need to win the Revolutionary War: the United States merely needed to avoid losing the Revolutionary War. So argues historian Joseph J. Ellis in this brisk and astute history of the intertwined political and military developments of the summer of 1776. That summer, of course, saw the fledgling nation declare …

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A Book of Voyages

May 24, 2013  |  ,

One of the pleasures of the late Patrick O’Brian’s novels about the British navy during the age of sail is O’Brian’s enchantment with the fascinatingly diverse world we inhabit. Travel widely enough with him and you encounter sultans and pashas, geographical marvels and zoological specimens, bejeweled parasols, Hamlet’s grave, hussars, Cossacks — maybe even a …

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The Great Unraveling

May 1, 2013  | 

Do not utter the words “American decline” to your conservative friends. Never mind the arguments for or against: to some on the right the mere topic is a kind of blasphemy, at once impious and infuriating. America can never falter, say its most reflexive champions. It’s America. It is not merely one of 200-odd nations …

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Oral Arguments

March 20, 2013  | 

When Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, she was the most famous judge and most powerful woman in America. Appointed by President Reagan in 1981, she had been the first female justice in the Court’s history. She was also its swing voter, a moderate conservative who preferred pragmatic solutions over her …

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Off Key

January 21, 2013  | 

Glenn Gould, the virtuoso pianist and great interpreter of Bach, once described the way recordings of music “insinuate themselves into our judgments, and into our lives,” thereby giving recording artists “an awesome power that was simply not available to any earlier generation.” Listen to a favorite record often enough, and it becomes authoritative; a different …

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