What “Star Wars” Taught Me about War, Liberty, and Human Nature

For a young immigrant boy who knew nothing about politics or history, Star Wars had a universal appeal that transcended language, nationality, time, and other superficial social barriers.”

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Open Carry in the Time of the Pandemic

“Channeling Uncle Bill, who died over a decade ago, I invite his ghost to weigh in. But rather than answering, he walks me downstairs in his old Brooklyn house, where we stand together in his paneled den—the perfect skin we’d heard about, now on the floor.”

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Virgil’s War and Peace

“The Meeting of Dido and Aeneas” by Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland (1735–1811)

“Two millennia later, we are still warring over the meaning of Virgil’s Aeneid.”

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Poem: “Epicycle(s)”

“Wilderness of whys./Labyrinth of I’s./Foreground, background./Busy, busy eyes.”

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Odysseus: the First Western Man

J. M. W. Turner’s “Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus”

“Odysseus is the first recognizably Western man.”

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In Every Time and Every Place: the Political Nuance of “Legend of Galactic Heroes”

“This is not a clear-cut struggle between good and evil, especially when enemies could come from within as well as without. Rather…it is a war between one good and another.”

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Buried Treasure

“Dad never searched for buried treasure again. He instead bought lottery tickets, entered contests online, and invested in a million dinar after Iraq fell…”

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How “Ms .45” and Zoë Lund Paved Abel Ferrara’s Way

Ferrara and Lund (“Ms .45” / 1981)

“In the end, these are movies about redemption and what it means to be redeemed, whatever the struggle in getting there.”

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When We’ve Stopped Reading

(Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

By sheer accident, one man in this stupefied future learns how to read.”

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Review: Michael Shnayerson’s “Bugsy Siegel”

Jewish Lives

“It is a short and gripping panorama of life in 1920s-1940s America, that defining epoch of struggle and stardom, hardship and grandeur, fortune and bankruptcy—and Bugsy Siegel experienced it all.”

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Poem: “Third Wave”

(Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

“The statistics were/like our scores—and we wanted/to lead the boards…”

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Dawn in Pennsylvania

(Edward Hopper’s “Dawn in Pennsylvania”)

“How to describe it all? My dad and his sweaty armpits and the black garbage bags with the slice of old-time America buried inside. This sadness I’ve become filled with, which doesn’t feel like the kind of sadness the artist intended, but the opposite…his sadness looks like happiness to me.”

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Why James Bond Is a Positive Role Model for Young Americans

“In the meantime, fans have discussed and debated the merits of Bond himself. Is the character a good person? Is he a positive role model for today’s youth?”

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Review: Jan Swafford’s “Mozart: The Reign of Love”

“The problem is that this story of Mozart that we think we know is not true at all; thankfully, Jan Swafford is here to correct the problem.”

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Review: “The Klondike Bake-Oven Deaths”

“In a novel to be released later this month, Hornblum—perhaps best known for his 1998 non-fiction book Acres of Skin, which centers on different events at Holmesburg Prison—retells the calamitous events of August, 1938.”

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