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Tag: politics

Review: Amor Towles’s “A Gentleman in Moscow”

What does a society desperate to escape monarchic domination do with a plucky, refined member of its extant aristocracy? In Amor Towles’s enchanting portrait of post-revolutionary Russia, the answer is to place him under permanent house arrest in The Metropol, Moscow’s most renowned hotel. He will be stripped of his titles, his luxurious lodgings, and [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2019

My Year of Bookish Wisdom 2019: War is Present and Peace is Possible As 2019 comes to a close, people around the world will be using the arbitrary milestone of a new decade to reflect on the last ten years and plan for the next ten. I wish I could say that either of these [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]

Review: Peter Turchin’s “Ages of Discord”

The work of Peter Turchin has been my most exciting intellectual discovery of 2019. After my mind was blown by War and Peace and War earlier this year, I was delighted to learn that Turchin has published a more recent book demonstrating how the principles of cliodynamics have played out in America. Ages of Discord is a [...]

Review: Cixin Liu’s “Supernova Era”

Cixin Liu is one of the most important science fiction writers of our time. His work displays an expansive creativity and existential gravity that propel readers out of this world while simultaneously grounding us in the inescapable confines of biology and physics. Following his rise in popularity that accompanied the publication of The Three-Body Problem’s [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay”

For three summers running, I have welcomed one of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels into my life. Each has helped me rediscover the beautiful and complex ways in which emotional experience becomes simultaneously trapped and liberated by the act of articulation. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the penultimate installment in this narrative quartet, breaks new ground [...]

Review: Stephen Kinzer’s “The Brothers”

Anyone who takes an honest look at American history must grapple with our shameful record of foreign intervention. As with slavery, Native American genocide, and many other homegrown atrocities, we must confront these unseemly aspects of our past in order to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers offers a powerful analysis of American arrogance [...]

Review: Neal Stephenson’s “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell”

Like Swiss Army Knives, Neal Stephenson’s novels attempt to imbue a singular instrument with a wide range of utility. These attempts have produced both elegant masterpieces and convoluted kluges, but on the whole I think Stephenson’s recent work has solidified his position as one of his generation’s most ambitious and accomplished storytellers. Fall; or Dodge [...]

Review: David Frayne’s “The Refusal of Work”

In 2013, I embarked on a personal experiment in which I intentionally unplugged myself from traditional employment. I really wish David Frayne’s The Refusal of Work had existed during those first years, as it would have lent intellectual energy and a useful lexicon to a project that was difficult at first to articulate. I also think this [...]

Review: David Wallace-Wells’s “The Uninhabitable Earth”

David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth is by far the most upsetting book I have ever read. Given the number of decades we’ve allowed to slip by without doing anything to properly combat climate change, the problem is now so superlatively fucked that only a book as grim and gruesome as this one can do it justice. And [...]