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For posts before June 2012, please follow these links to our archives.

America's War for the Greater Middle East

Steve Donoghue Christian Science Monitor
This new book by a retired Army colonel and emeritus professor of history at Boston University tells the story of decades of US policy failures in the Middle East.

He was a sexual outlaw - My love affair with Robert Mapplethorpe

Jack Fritscher The Guardian
The new Mapplethorpe film begins with the voice of Senator Jesse Helms exhorting everyone to, "Look at the pictures!" He was protesting an exhibit of Mapplethorpe's work that he viewed as pornographic, and we see the conservative politician waving what he viewed as smut, seeking to inflame the culture wars, despite the fact that Mapplethorpe had died just a few months prior at the age of 42 of AIDS. That protest turned out to solidify the artist's legend.

THE STATE OF SOUL FOOD IN AMERICA

ADRIAN MILLER First We Feast
The flourishing of soul food’s sub-genres has been fun to watch (and eat), but it has also meant that fewer African-American chefs are embracing traditional soul food. Some side-step the cuisine in order to avoid being pigeon-holed as a “soul-food cooks,” while others follow their passions for other flavors.

A Thrilling TV Adaptation Of John Le Carré's 'Night Manager'

John Powers, heard on Fresh Air NPR
Le Carré's 1993 novel comes to life in a six-part AMC series. John Powers says the show, which jets from Egyptian streets to posh Alpine lodges, is one of the most enjoyable thrillers he's seen on TV. Over the years, le Carré's anger at those in power has become less ambiguous and more sharply focused, whether he's going after drug company profiteering or America's approach to the War on Terror.

FOR THE SAD WAITRESS AT THE DINER IN BARSTOW

Alexis Rhone Fancher San Pedro River Review
With a sharp eye for detail and an unrelenting instinct for trouble, Los Angeles poet Alexis Rhone Fancher presents the sad working woman behind the counter.

Lost Illusions:The Americans Who Fought in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Caleb Crain The New Yorker
Based on personal stories of Abraham Lincoln Battalion survivors, Hochschild writes of their courage in an unequal contest where the Fascists had the unstinting support of German and Italian governments while the Democracies embargoed all arms to the Spanish government, an alliance of centrist and leftist parties-this while the Soviets worked to tamp down popular land and factory seizures for fear of inciting those capitalist Democracies to outrightly side with the Right

"Democracy and Education" at 100

Catharine R. Stimpson Public Books
John Dewey's classic has had a profound impact on how progressives and others think about education. In this review, Catherine R. Stimpson evaluates this landmark book of educational theory and finds that it has a lot to tell us about social life outside the classroom as well.

‘Junction 48’ Film Review: Permission to Rhyme

Khelil Bouarrouj Palestine Square
Udi Aloni's Junction 48 is a melodic drama set Isreal in the town of Lydd (Lod) with a nearly all-Palestinian cast that forcefully confronts anti-Arab racism in Israel by shining a light on the oft-forgotten Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCIs). (The title Junction 48 presumably refers to Lydd’s historic transit-point between Palestine and Egypt and the designation often applied to PCIs as “’48 Palestinians.”)

THE TEST TUBE CHEF

Bianca Bosker The Atlantic
At a time when much of the culinary world believes in farming like pioneer settlers and looking its meat in the eyes, This wants us to abandon peas and carrots (“Middle Ages!”) for their constituent parts—glucose, sucrose, cellulose, amino acids, and more.