At least since Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, nostalgia for a plausible fantastic universe has been a major component of the fantasy genre’s appeal. Finishing a fantasy novel causes a subtle feeling of loss, as access to the novel’s world is curtailed, abruptly, with the turn of the final page. Fantasy writers strive to engender this feeling in their readers, to leave them with the desire to re-enter (and repurchase entry) into the universes writers create. Completing volumes of Patrick Rothfuss’ bestselling Kingkiller Chronicles leaves one with the absence of such nostalgia, but the series nonetheless provides immense entertainment.
Theodore Roosevelt saw the storm coming.
The former president and soldier, exiled from circles of elite influence after his insurgent campaign in the 1912 election divided Republicans and gave the White House to Woodrow Wilson, urged his Democratic rival in 1914 to declare diplomatic support for Britain and bolster the capacities of the U.S. military. America’s European allies were increasingly nervous about the ambitions of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany. Si vis pacem, para bellum: “if you want peace, prepare for war.”
When Americans were busy in the 18th century figuring out what the first principles of their new nation would be, intellectuals and politicians used to produce ‘broadsides’—brief fliers meant to influence readers before getting tossed into the garbage. Encounter Books resurrected the form in 2009 and its 41st edition proves to be a rarity, and something well worth retaining after the first read: The publisher manages to hold an immigration debate free of any accusations of racism or hatred for America’s working poor.
Hear that giant sucking sound? No, it’s not jobs going south, as H. Ross Perot once put it. It’s the sound of the gavage machine going into overtime, with its pneumatic feeding tube ready to be inserted down the throats of ducks, ballooning their livers, and ultimately transforming said livers into the delicacy known as foie gras.
Once again, that sound is coming from California.
The struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union came to be known as the Cold War because of an essay that George Orwell wrote two months after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The piece had the folksy title, ‘You and the Atom Bomb,’ and outlined the thinking that would later condition 1984.
Hugh Trevor-Roper’s name has become synonymous with a vanished world of 18th-century architecture and monographs full of untranslated Greek, of mandatory chapel attendance and cheap foreign holidays, of priceless port consumed immoderately at candlelit high-table dinners, of black-robed dons intriguing relentlessly, their cloven tongues guarding jealously not the wisdom of the ages but the name of the little shit who carved up old Namier’s book anonymously in last week’s TLS.