John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s fantasy world Middle-earth had been decades in the making before The Hobbit was published in 1937. An orphan by age 12, Tolkien cradled a pure, child-like imagination his whole life. He began creating the language of his Elves when he was a teenager, he illustrated fantasy worlds in striking watercolor paintings that would influence his vision for Middle-earth’s landscapes, and he began writing lore for the nascent world in a unique, arabesque script that closely resembled that of his deceased mother. Until May 12, these manuscripts, paintings, and other personal items of the author are on view at the Morgan Library in New York City, in its captivating exhibit “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth.” It has drawn crowds of fans eager to see the genesis of The Lord of the Rings—last century’s most influential and beloved fantasy series described by Tolkien’s friend C.S. Lewis as “a lightning bolt from a clear sky.”
Paul Le Roux was basically a spammer. A guy who flooded computers with unsolicited email and shady websites offering to treat hair loss, migraine headaches, and erectile dysfunction. Tired of standing in line at pharmacies? Tired of sitting in doctors’ offices? Get the meds YOU WANT online! Online. That was the key. Jeff Bezos saw it and built Amazon. Paul Le Roux saw it and went to jail.
Political courage may be hard to find these days, but Wendell Willkie had it in spades. As chronicled by David Levering Lewis in The Improbable Wendell Willkie, the GOP’s 1940 presidential nominee was unafraid to stake out positions that, while not always popular or correct, were undoubtedly courageous.
We didn’t need Raghuram Rajan’s new book to convince us that economics attracts some of the smartest people on the planet, although Rajan himself is a fine example of that fact. Currently a professor at the University of Chicago, he has served as governor of the Reserve Bank of India, chief economic adviser to India, and chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, while receiving along the way nearly every accolade granted to rising young economists.
The plight of the rural white working class, especially its males, burst onto the national radar rather suddenly. Opioid overdoses finally caught the attention of the mainstream media a few years back. And of course the GOP primary win, and ultimate election, of Donald Trump brought even more attention to this demographic.
A conversion to Catholicism is invariably a romance with the Eucharist through the holy sacrifice of the Mass—and in this sense, New York Post op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari’s memoir From Fire By Water is a typical conversion story. But it’s also deeply personal: For Catholics, the Mass is the wellspring of a relationship with God, and Ahmari’s story speaks to the humbling power of the sacrament.
The failure of American colleges to promote free speech and intellectual diversity is like an open wound. It stains the imagination, obscuring paths of investigation with a sick puss. It drains the vitality of thought, leaving the mind weakened. And it strains intellectual discourse—the Socratic ideal of conversation—by making us fearful, anxious, and self-censoring.
Thanks to The Death of Hitler: The Final Word, we now know unequivocally that Adolf Hitler died in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945. Because you still weren’t sure, were you?
The conspiracies began to flow from the very beginning—the Soviets helped spread them. “Hitler has escaped!” reported the news agency TASS on May 2, 1945. Stalin later told U.S. envoy Harry Hopkins that he presumed Hitler and his henchmen Josef Goebbels and Martin Bormann were somewhere in hiding. Then there was that German submarine, U-530, that made its way to Argentina in July 1945. Who was on board?