My final Think Again column for a while is called “Is Obamacare the End of Liberalism? Not So Much.” I’ll be doing the column occasionally in the future but devoting myself primarily to larger projects in the future.
My latest Nation column is called “When Success Is Failure: Why It’s Hard to Make Sense of US Foreign Policy.” (On Perry Anderson's essay in New Left Review)
And here is the final, I sincerely hope, time I will ever have to write the word “Blumenthal”: Exchange over Eric and ‘Goliath’
I’ve been looking at coffee table books this week and my favorite is Rock and Roll Stories a collection of photographs by Lynn Goldsmith. I have her earlier collection, which is quite good, but this one is just beautifully produced (by Abrams) on good strong paper with terrific reproductions of some incredible work. (The PR copy describes “Bruce Springsteen's passage to glory, the Rolling Stones' legendary stadium tours, Michael Jackson's staggering ascent, U2's arrival in New York, and the brooding force of Bob Marley.” But really, almost everyone is here and while occasionally posed, the photos are often remarkably personal and revealing—especially in the case of a certain ex-boyfriend. I can’t imagine anyone who likes the music of this period who would not love this book, and it’s awfully well priced for its size, quality and sturdiness. I own some of Lynn’s work and this made me wish I had more.
The record company is celebrating a big birthday with a lovely and solid coffee table book, “Verve: The Sound of America” published by Thames & Hudson and a four cd box set. The book has 1,200 illustrations and some decent essays. It has all the covers of the albums but is arranged according to a scheme I could not quite figure out. As for the box set, I’ve got the music on mp3s but not the box itself. It’s pretty great stuff, of course, but it shows up on Itunes without identifying who the artist is, so that’s a real pain. The book is $75 but would make a great gift for anyone who likes jazz.
The same company, Thames & Hudson, has also published David Thomson’s book Moments That Made the Movies. The idea here is to focus on a series of moments in seventy-two films of particular significance and accompany them with wonderful stills representing those moments.Thomson has some crazy ideas—especially when it comes to politics–but this is a nice, fun book and he is smart even when he is wrong (except about politics, where he is not so smart). The moments include Eadweard Muybridge̓s pioneering photographs to sequences in films from the classic—Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, The Red Shoes—to the unexpected—The Piano Teacher, Burn After Reading.
I also got a box set called “Beatles Solo: The Illustrated Chronicles of John, Paul, George, and Ringo after the Beatle.” It’s four books covering the period after they broke up with a book devoted to each one. It’s a nice package, but the text, by Mojo’s Mat Snow is geared toward people who know nothing about the Beatles: which makes this an odd mix, since those people would probably want a Beatles book, not a box set about their solo years, but there it is. It’s published by Race Point Publishing and it’s pretty cheap, given the handsome (and solid) packaging.