The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Many of the commeters here at Unz.com have complained about my heavy-handed treatment of commenters. Well, to those people, I say too bad. They key problem is that many critical commenters don't realize how ignorant about matter at hand they are. Realize that the whole reason you're reading me is because I know things that... Read More
First of all, I've updated my earlier posting Genes, Climate, and Even More Maps of the American Nations. I've included a few more maps, including a map of the American Nations superimposed on average annual precipitation: Go check it out! Second, here's my occasional periodic F.U. to the more vile White Nationalist elements out there.... Read More
Riddles, Lies, and Lives -- from Fidel Castro and Muhammad Ali to Albert Einstein and Barbie
[The following passages are excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s history of humanity, Mirrors (Nation Books).] Stalin He learned to write in the language of Georgia, his homeland, but in the seminary the monks made him speak Russian. Years later in Moscow, his south Caucasus accent still gave him away. So he decided to become more Russian... Read More
Who isn’t a fan of something -- or someone? So consider this my fan’s note. To my mind, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano is among the greats of our time. His writing has “it” -- that indefinable quality you can’t describe but know as soon as you read it. He’s created a style that combines the... Read More
Choreographed War and Other Aspects of the World’s Greatest Game
The Stadium Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of spectators. At Wembley, shouts from the 1966 World Cup, which England won, still resound, and if you... Read More
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Sum Ting Wong, very Wong
While major plane crashes in the United States are always big news, newspapers demonstrate virtually no understanding or insight into the causes of airline accidents. The New York Times, allegedly the USA’s paper of record, is no better than its competitors. One would like to think that the Times would have a journalist on staff... Read More
Such Is This [email protected], by Hu Fayun
There has never been a good time to be an honest writer in Communist China, but the present is an exceptionally bad time. Spooked by the "Arab Spring" and jostling for position in next year's scheduled leadership changes, the Party bosses have been coming down hard on every kind of independent thinking. The cases of... Read More
Arthur Rimbaud - 1872 All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom... Read More
I didn’t want to like Don Delillo’s Underworld. I am not sure why, sometimes books, like people, just strike you the wrong way. In general, I trust my instincts. I grudgingly began the big tome, hoping I was right. This is not a book that sucks you in easily. It keeps you interested as it... Read More
Baseball on the radio is one of the most authentic sounds of the American spring and summer. Double plays are turned, the bottom falls out of breaking balls, pitches are tapped foul, nubbed, dribbled tomahawked, drilled, driven and crushed. Pitchers look in, check runners, shake off signs, go in to their windups, batters check their... Read More
In one hundred years when books are written about the history of film, 2009 will have its own chapter about two very important films that will pave the way for many a masterpiece. The two films are Avatar and Paranormal Activity. They couldn’t be more different. One cost $240 million, or roughly $1 million a... Read More
I have a good friend who is very intelligent. She is a highly educated scientist and I would say that her IQ is in the 135+ range. But not only is she very intelligent, she is unselfconsciously intelligent, which is a refreshing trait in today’s self-congratulatory culture. Remember when athletes didn’t jump up and down... Read More
Time for a rant about professional football. I don’t know how many TAC regulars are football fans, but I suspect there are at least a few. I have been a fan for many years but rarely watch anymore. At one time, football was a real male bonding experience with big brawny guys smacking each other... Read More
Those who have been following my extended rant on speed cameras know that my objection to them is based on their role in the developing all-surveillance-state-all-the-time as well as their denial of any due process. I have also noted that their deployment is generally based on potential revenue generation rather than safety. Chevy Chase (not... Read More
My post on the increasing use of speed cameras back about ten days ago in which I though I was attacking the surveillance state attracted some criticism because it revealed inter alia that I am a reckless speeder. Now there is a piece in today's Wash Post about a man driving to a ball game... Read More
There is some debate in the Washington area about the increasing use of speed cameras. It is reported that Montgomery County in Maryland has deployed hundreds of them and is raking in $53,000 a day in fines. The cameras are sited on busy roads and record the license plates of vehicles going five miles per... Read More
The newest book by Robert J. Stove, who has written for this website, A Student’s Guide to Music History, is a compact study of great composers prepared for ISI Press. For those who are looking for bulky surveys of Rob’s subjects or else detailed biographies of individual composers, such as Ernest Newman’s four-volume The Life... Read More
Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon
In his invaluable Reader's Manifesto, literary critic B.R. Myers, skewering current literary fads, offers a spoof list of rules for serious writers. Rule II is: I naturally had Myers' mock precept in mind when approaching Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle — three damned, thick, square books weighing in at a total of over 2,600 pages. My... Read More
Freddy and Fredericka, by Mark Helprin
King George VI of England reigned from 1936 to his death in 1952. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, the present Queen. Mark Helprin's new novel puts us in a alternative universe where George died in 1945, apparently without issue, the throne passing to a younger brother Harry. (Who seems not to have been... Read More
I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe
How does this conservative look forward to a new Tom Wolfe novel? Let me count the ways. • The political incorrectness. Well, not exactly that. Tom Wolfe takes no point of view, has no bill of goods to sell. He just calmly, coolly records the way things are, the way people look and talk, the... Read More
History. Britain in Revolution by Austin Woolrych. This only came out in November, and then only in Britain, but I jumped on Amazon-U.K. and ordered a copy right away, and am now reading it with great pleasure. Woolrych, who is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Lancaster, in the north of England, and... Read More
I hasten to say that this is not the first French novel I have read. There was a period of my life when I read little else but French novels. (In translation, let me add. Having mastered the label on the HP Sauce bottle in childhood, I found that the desire to read texts in... Read More
The Varieties of Romantic Experience, by Robert Cohen
Here are ten short stories by the author of last year's much-praised novel Inspired Sleep. That was Robert Cohen's third novel; this is his first story collection. Cohen is a writer and teacher of Creative Writing at a small New England liberal-arts college. The stories here range from five to forty pages in length and... Read More
The Time Machine Directed by Simon Wells, Gore Verbinski Starring Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba Screenplay by John Logan Dreamworks Studios Science fiction comes in two varieties: pure and applied. The purpose of pure science fiction is, in the words of the late Kingsley Amis, "to arouse wonder, terror and excitement." The purpose of applied science... Read More
On Tuesday night I went to the opera to see Norma. What follows here is not exactly a review. I know my place, and I leave serious musical commentary to my colleague Jay Nordlinger, who does it superbly well (see almost any issue of The New Criterion). This is more in the nature of what... Read More
The Bay of Angels, by Anita Brookner
Anita Brookner won England's prestigious Booker Prize for her fourth novel Hotel du Lac in 1984. I read that book at the time but, while I thought there was much to admire in it, did not find it sufficiently to my taste to want to follow the author's subsequent development. I see with some dismay... Read More
Strolling around Disneyland this summer, re-acquainting myself with Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Mister Toad, Simba, and so on, the following reflection occurred to me: That these strange imagined characters were originally (at one slight remove, in Simba's case) the creations of some very bourgeois persons. Barrie, Grahame, Milne and Kipling were conventional, sober, uxorious,... Read More
The Book on the Bookshelf, by Henry Petroski
Going out on a limb here, I shall hazard a guess that readers of this periodical are more bookish than the average. Probably they have all, like this reviewer, wrestled with the problems of organizing and shelving their books. The subject matter of Henry Petroski's The Book on the Bookshelf will therefore be close to... Read More
A Gesture Life, by Chang-rae Lee
This is an excellent second novel by the author of Native Speaker, which came out in 1995. That book won several prizes, but I confess it was not for me. I do not like ethnic fiction and shall greet with joy the day, if it ever arrives, when American writers produce a full year's crop... Read More
The Late Mr. Shakespeare, by Robert Nye
In case you hadn't noticed, we are in the middle of a Shakespeare boom. There was that charming movie, of course; then a barrage of Bard books — Park Honan's biography, Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and John Berryman's Shakespeare. A new film of A Midsummer Night's Dream is to be released... Read More
Europa, by Tim Parks
Tim Parks is an Englishman who has lived most of his adult life in Italy. Since the publication of his first book thirteen years ago he has toiled away in the vineyards of literature, turning out novels (Europa is his ninth), translations, and essays about Italian life. Long residence abroad has freed Parks from the... Read More
The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, by Mario Vargas Llosa
A reviewer in the Wall Street Journal recently wondered aloud whether body functions have any proper place in literature. A lot of us are asking the same question. Few serious novelists any longer use sex as the main point of a story, and a growing minority — more men than women, it is interesting to... Read More
A Floating Life, by Simon Elegant
The Chinese of olden times believed that immortals who misbehaved in Heaven were banished to live out a human life on Earth, where they might be encountered as wild, eccentric persons of extraordinary gifts. The best known of these "banished immortals" was the poet Li Po, who lived A.D. 701-762. I think Li is known,... Read More
Purple America, by Rick Moody
Of the British poet Philip Larkin, one obituarist observed that while Larkin's verse could not be faulted on technical grounds, he still could never be admitted to the front rank of poets because his work did not affirm anything. The novelist Rick Moody inspires some similar reflection. Though very accomplished, in what I think we... Read More
The Handmaid of Desire, by John L'Heureux
John L'Heureux's seventh novel is being promoted by its publisher as an academic satire. This is a bit like calling Moby Dick a whaling yarn: true, but somewhat less than the full truth. The Handmaid of Desire concerns the English Department of an unnamed university in California. The faculty is divided into two camps: fools... Read More
The Wind in the Willows Visits the Reed Household. And is Welcome
We have voles. At least, we had a vole--or it may be that a vole had us. It is hard to tell with voles. The having and the had are separated, in the case of voles, by a point of view only. The weather was frosty the other morning. The fire had died overnight in... Read More
PastClassics
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?