Books & the Arts

The Hidden Treasures of Pirate Democracy

In his final book, David Graeber looks at an experiment in radical democracy and piratical justice in Madagascar.

Marcus Rediker

The Defiance of Cormac McCarthy’s Late Style

In Stella Maris and The Passenger, McCarthy invites us to consider hopelessness not just to give us hope but to compel us to make use of it.

Nicolás Medina Mora

What’s the Matter With Contemporary Architecture?

In his new book, Reinier de Graaf attempts to work out why his profession appears to be at an impasse.

Marianela D’Aprile

From the Magazine

The Costs and Contradictions of Ballet

The Costs and Contradictions of Ballet

Alice Robb’s Don’t Think, Dear and Ellen O’Connell Whittet’s What You Become in Flight explore both the liberating sense of art and the domineering logic of ballet.

Glory Liu
J. Edgar Hoover tests a gun.

The Cult of J. Edgar Hoover

A zealot through and through, he ran the FBI like a religious sect.

Adam Hochschild
Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin’s Life Between Art and Activism

The impact of her pioneering photography and her advocacy on behalf of those harmed by Purdue Pharma is chronicled in Laura Poitras’s All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.

Barry Schwabsky

Literary Criticism

Janet Malcolm.

Janet Malcolm, Reluctant Memoirist

Why was one of the most gifted nonfiction writers of her generation so uncomfortable writing about herself?

Vivian Gornick
Is This the End of Literary Studies?

Is This the End of Literary Studies?

John Guillory’s Professing Criticism offers a sobering look at the uncertain future of criticism inside and outside the academy.

Nicholas Dames
The Radicalization of Édouard Louis

The Radicalization of Édouard Louis

Two new books by the French novelist mark a political turn in his writing.

Tara K. Menon

B&A Newsletter

Best of Books & the Arts

Mondays. A bi-weekly collection of the best of The Nation’s Books & the Arts section.

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History & Politics

Eugene Debs at the US Penitentiary in Atlanta

The Crusade Against Civil Liberties During World War I

Adam Hochschild’s latest book, American Midnight, examines a dark era in US history in which Woodrow Wilson and his administration went to war at home as well as abroad. 

Eric Foner
The Black Panthers’ Liberation School

Why the United States Needs a New Reconstruction

In The Third Reconstruction, historian Peniel Joseph examines how how the broken promises of racial equality in the past might be fulfilled in the future.

Robert Greene II
The Past and Future of Mexican Chicago

The Past and Future of Mexican Chicago

From the machine politicians in La Villita to the radicals in Pilsen, Mexican Chicagoans have played a central role in defining their city. 

Juan Ignacio Mora


The Fragile and Complex Worlds of George Saunders

The Fragile and Complex Worlds of George Saunders

In his short fiction, Saunders reminds us that when it comes to ethical dilemmas there are often no clean ways out.
Erin Somers

Early on in “Sea Oak,” a short story from Pastoralia, the second of five collections by George Saunders, the characters watch a TV show called How My Child Died Violently. The show is hosted by “a six-foot-five blond,” Saunders writes, “who’s always giving the parents shoulder rubs and telling them… Continue Reading >

Television and Films

Daniel Giménez Cacho as Silverio in Bardo

The Many Labyrinths of Alejandro Iñarritu’s Oscar-Nominated “Bardo”

Disjointed, unnerving, and divisive, Bardo challenges its viewers to make sense of it.

Ilan Stavans
The Strange Thrills of “The Crown”

The Strange Thrills of “The Crown”

While the infighting and personal lives of the British royals is boring, their desperate struggle to protect the monarchy makes for fine television. 

Gary Younge
The Honesty of “Atlanta”

The Honesty of “Atlanta”

After four seasons, Donald Glover’s television show leaves behind a fascinating and complicated legacy.

Vikram Murthi


Will Alexander’s Epics of the Surreal

Will Alexander’s Epics of the Surreal

As one critic put it, his poetry conjured up a world built by “an ecstatic surrealist on imaginal hyperdrive.” 
Aditya Bahl

The embers of the Los Angeles uprising were still burning, in 1992, when Will Alexander published his short essay “Los Angeles: The Explosive Cimmerian Fish” in the pages of Sulfur. Run by the poet Clayton Eshleman, the small magazine had acquired a considerable reputation for upending the country’s “official verse… Continue Reading >


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