Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb by David C. Cassidy
The Sorrows of Old Werner
A review by Michael D. Gordin
Unless you happen to be a historian of physics, probably the only thing you know about the life of Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) is that in September 1941 he took a trip to Copenhagen to have a conversation with Niels Bohr, the wise man of quantum theory. Thanks to Michael Frayn's popular and award-winning play of 1998, Copenhagen, the controversial exchange the two had that evening in Nazi-occupied Denmark has become the most salient part of the public image of the mercurial German physicist.
This was not Heisenberg's first trip to Copenhagen. In the mid-1920s, he had served as Bohr's...
Jack Cole & Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits by Art Spiegelman
A review by Christopher Bolton
Everyone who passed my desk stopped to stare at the cover, their eyes drawn to the red-and-yellow-clad superhero lunging forward, his upper torso and left leg stretched long and flat like a human ribbon. The attraction — Jack Cole and Plastic Man, a book-length essay about the elastic superhero and his creator, written by Art Spiegelman (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus) and designed by graphic artist Chip Kidd. Spiegelman’s insightful commentary covers the highs and extreme lows of the life of Cole and his protagonist, and proves a tribute is long overdue. This gorgeous volume...
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
A review by Jill Owens
Jean Rhys has an affinity for mercurial heroines; her famed novel Wide Sargasso Sea gave a voice and a history to Mrs. Rochester, the "mad" first wife of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. In Good Morning, Midnight, she explores a more claustrophobic kind of exile in Sasha Jensen, who has been sent back to Paris at the behest (and expense) of a friend as an alternative to her alcoholic amnesia in London. Aimless, Sasha wanders through Paris, the site of the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her child, trying halfheartedly to reestablish a life.
Sasha's past, with its memories ...
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Pure Pop Music Pleasure from Nick Hornby
A review by Mark Lindquist
Back in the mid-1990s I was a big fan of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, a novel about a young man's devotion to music. My girlfriend questioned my enthusiasm for this book, which she considered "middlebrow" at best, and our disagreement over the quality of the writing resulted in a drawn-out argument.
"Listen to us," I finally said, "this is my proof."
"This fight sounds exactly like a scene from his book."
This observation did not end our argument well, or even end it at all. I stood by the sentiment, insisting that Hornby wrote spot-on dialogue and got into the head of...
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
A review by Ron Charles
After weathering the scrutiny and debates kicked up by Mitt Romney's run for the White House and Warren Jeffs's polygamous sect in Texas, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints probably deserves the rest of the year off. But, lo and behold, here comes an engrossing new novel that resurrects one of the Mormons' most destructive opponents: Ann Eliza Young, a beautiful, articulate woman who once shared Brigham Young's bed and then devoted her life to destroying him.
She's brought back to vivid life by David Ebershoff, an editor at Random House who bears no grudge against Mormons but ...
Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization by Michael Goldman
A review by Joshua Brook
In a prescient essay for the Atlantic Monthly in 1992, Rutgers political scientist Benjamin Barber predicted that "[j]ust beyond the horizon of current events lie two possible political futures -- both bleak, neither democratic." Barber's colorful catchphrase for this dichotomy was "Jihad vs. McWorld" (which later served as title of his 1995 book). The recent terror bombings in London, timed as they most likely were to coincide with the G8 summit in Scotland, are a grim confirmation of Barber's prophesy. Although, the world's attention has, since September 11, understandably been more focused ...