Skip to main content

Information is power. Our mission at Portside is to seek out and to provide information that empowers you -- that empowers the left. Every day we search hundreds of sources to connect you with the most interesting, striking and useful material. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. Please help.

 

 

 

A World at War

Bill McKibben The New Republic
We're under attack from climate change-and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII. It's not that global warming is like a world war. It is a world war. And we are losing. Defeating the Nazis required more than brave soldiers. It required a wholesale industrial retooling. In this war we're in-the war that physics is fighting hard, and that we aren't-winning slowly is the same as losing.

books

Edith Piaf: Like Cold Oysters

Bee Wilson London Review of Books
In David Looseley's take on the iconic French chanteuse Edith Piaf, her notoriously elusive life story is rendered as cultural history, drawing out what Piaf meant - and still means - to France and to her wider audience. Looseley notes that her musical persona was highly and brilliantly constructed. She projected a stage mask of suffering that was all the more affecting because the audience saw there was deprivation behind it. With Piaf, you underwent her.

books

Stefan Zweig's Messages From a Lost World

Scott McLemee Insider Higher Ed
In the period between the world wars, Stefan Zweig was among the world's best-known authors. His books would soon fuel Nazi bonfires. Zweig held that humanity could no longer afford the belligerent nationalism that had led them into the Great War. Yet Zweig was struck dumb by post 1933 events. That failure, the reviewer says, was of imagination, not nerve. Against the Nazis' depredations, all the consummate writer and speaker could muster was nostalgia for a lost world.

Leningrad, Shostakovich and the Music of Transcendence

Ron Jacobs CounterPunch
The story of the 872 day Nazi siege of Leningrad, the humans who survived it, and the more than one million who died, the story told in Shostakovich’s Seventh symphony, is one of humanity’s greatest and most heroic tales ever. Always Russia’s city of the arts and music, Leningrad is also a city of revolution. Daunted and desperate, the spirit of Leningrad’s residents is really the ultimate determinant of its survival. Shostakovich’s symphony rallied his fellow citizens.

What Americans Thought of Jewish Refugees on the Eve of World War II

Ishaan Tharoor Washington Post
1938-five years after Hitler came to power, after the beginning of the "Final Solution", Jewish refugees were denied entry into the United States. Then it was anti-Semitism and fear of European radicals and communists; today it is anti-Muslim hysteria. Then the U.S. closed its' eyes to the Holocaust; today GOP governors and congressmen are closing the borders while over 250,000 have died in Syria, there are over 3 million refugees and 6.5 million are internally displaced

books

Walter Benjamin, the First Pop Philosopher

Ray Monk The New Statesman
Walter Benjamin found his calling after accepting he would never get a job as an academic, so he junked hitherto unfathomable reflections on language to cover contemporary culture, with an emphasis on its more popular forms, for newspapers and general publishers. His radio broadcasts, many aimed at children, show writing that is engaging, vivid and, above all, understandable. Conclusion: the best thing that ever happened to the man was his failure to land a lectureship

books

Back in Black: The Coming Cat-Scratch Repeat Over Martin Heidegger

Scott McLemee Inside Higher Education
Scott McLemee predicts another round of slamming/defending Nazi-tool philosopher Martin Heidegger with the forthcoming English publication of his The Black Notebooks...l'affaire Heidegger has been recycled on at least three or four occasions. It's as if the shock of the scandal was so great that it induced amnesia each time. Trashing Heidegger distracts us from our own appalling national stupidities and our galling national avarice -- our own little darkenings.

What the Class Politics of World War II Mean for Tensions in Asia Today

Walden Bello Foreign Policy in Focus
Postwar U.S. authorities helped rehabilitate erstwhile collaborators with the Japanese occupation in the name of fighting communism. Generations later, it’s led to the grandson of a despised Philippine collaborator endorsing the re-militarization of his country’s former occupiers — by the grandson of a war criminal, no less.

books

Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex

Sam Kean The American Scholar
Ernest Lawrence was a leading member of the scientific community that invented the atom bomb. He was also a pioneer in the growth of the military industrial complex. Michael Hiltzik tells this history in his new book. Sam Kean observes in this review that "there is much to admire and much to mourn" here, as we continue to live with the complex legacy of Big Science three quarters of a century after its emergence.
Subscribe to World War II