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  • 'Ocean's 13': Let's Hear It for the Boys

    Supercool and superclever, "Ocean's Eleven" was everything you'd want in a heist movie. "Twelve" was everything you didn't want in a sequel: Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon & Co. threw a party, and forgot to invite the audience. In "Thirteen," the boys are trying to make amends. They partly succeed. The fog of self-satisfaction has mostly lifted. There's actually a coherent script (by Brian Koppelman and David Levien), and there are some real laughs. Not big laughs, mind you, but a fairly steady stream of smiles and chuckles. And their newest caper is, as expected, fiendishly complex and outlandishly executed.Here's the deal: Danny Ocean's gang reconvenes to get revenge. Their target: the nastiest, most unscrupulous casino tycoon in Vegas, Willy Bank (Al Pacino). He double-crossed their old pal Reuben (Elliott Gould) out of his partnership in Bank's new hotel, so the guys want to make sure everything goes wrong on the opening night of Bank's spectacular...
  • Rebuilding Rome as a Virtual City

    How do you say megabyte in Latin? Ancient Rome was reborn—as a virtual city—today, when a team of American and Italian academics unveiled Rome Reborn, a real-time 3-D computer reconstruction that allows visitors to navigate the ancient city as if it were 320 A.D. again. Thanks to the complex software run on PCs, modern visitors can fly over the ancient city, pan down into the Colosseum, cruise the Roman Forum and stroll into the Senate building. The aim is to provide a new tool for scholars of the ancient city to imagine how the buildings may have looked in greater detail than two-dimensional models afford.Virtual Rome wasn’t built in a day, either. The first digital real-time reconstruction of the ancient city marks the end of a 10-year effort by an academic team of architects, computer scientists and archaeologists from UCLA, the Milan Polytechnic and the University of Virginia, headed by UCLA architecture and urban-design professor Diane Favro and Bernard Frischer, a classics...
  • 'Truth Is, I'm the Same Guy I Always Was'

    Paul McCartney hasn't slowed down. In the midst of a messy divorce, the 40th anniversary of "Sgt. Pepper" and preparations for his 65th birthday, McCartney is releasing his 22nd post-Beatles studio disc, "Memory Almost Full," on Starbucks' Hear Music label. Nostalgic yet inventive, it's his most vibrant record in years—and the first one to come out on Apple's iTunes store. McCartney spoke to NEWSWEEK's Andrew Romano and Daniel Klaidman last week by phone while driving through the English countryside to rehearse with his band for an upcoming series of (shh!) secret, small-club shows. Excerpts: ...
  • Talk Transcript: Islam in America

    It's near midnight in a small Fairfax, Va., bar, and Omar Waqar stands on a makeshift stage, brooding in a black tunic and brown cap. He stops playing his electric guitar long enough to survey the crowd—an odd mix of local punks and collared preps—before screaming into the microphone: "Stop the hate! Stop the hate!" Stopping hate is a fairly easy concept to get behind at a punk-rock show, and the crowd yells and pumps its fists right on cue. But it's safe to say that Waqar and his band, Diacritical, aren't shouting about the same kind of hate as the audience. Waqar wants to stop the kind that made people call him "sand flea" as a kid and throw rocks through the windows of the Islamic bookstore he worked at on 9/11. Waqar, 26, the son of a Pakistani immigrant, is a Muslim—a punk-rock Muslim.Muslim punk rock certainly sounds like an oxymoron, especially since fundamentalist Muslims condemn all music as haram (forbidden). But Diacritical is one of about a dozen Islamic punk-rock bands...
  • Tony Soprano, Harry Potter: The Same Story?

    It is, in a way, a sort of split-level love affair. For the past decade, children have been staying up late to finish the latest installments concerning the fortunes of Harry Potter. Meanwhile, downstairs in the TV room, Mom and Dad have been watching the saga of Tony Soprano. Harry got out of the gate a little earlier, in 1997, but Tony, whom we first observed wading after those ducks in his swimming pool in 1999, wasn't far behind. Now the serial stories that have captivated American children and their parents for much of the last 10 years are ending within two months of each other. That's a coincidence. What's less a matter of chance is that the big question about each series is the same: will Harry/Tony die in the end? And that raises a truly fascinating question: have these two sets of fans been obsessed with two versions of what is, in fact, the same story?Superficially, the two stories could not be more different: One occupies a magical realm where apprentice wizards learn...
  • ‘Sexsomnia’: Rare Form of Sleep Walking

    When Jan Luedecke of Toronto was arrested and tried for sexual assault, he had an unusual defense—he did it in his sleep. Really. It may sound farfetched, but Luedecke, who was 33 at his 2005 trial, had a history of sleepwalking. On the night in question, he'd been drinking at a party and found himself sacked out on the couch with a woman he'd met there. Hours later, she jolted him awake and demanded to know what he was doing. Luedecke claimed he was unaware he was having sex with her. "Under the law, if there's no intent to commit a crime, you haven't committed a crime," says Dr. Colin Shapiro, director of the Youthdale Child and Adolescent Sleep Center in Toronto, who testified for the defense. Luedecke was acquitted (to the outrage of women's organizations in Canada), and the case is now on appeal.Add sex to the roster of unlikely sleep behaviors known as parasomnias, which range from sleep driving to sleep eating. Last week psychiatrist Carlos Schenck and neurologist Mark...
  • Sloan: It's Not All About Money

    If all you care about is reported profits, you wouldn't want any part of owning The Wall Street Journal. The paper, for all its cachet and influence, is at best marginally profitable; the profits of its parent, Dow Jones, come primarily from electronic data distribution. But the Journal, financial laggard though it may be, is the primary reason that Rupert Murdoch and possibly other players are willing to pay $5 billion or more for Dow Jones.Here's the deal. In a fragmenting world in which anyone with an Internet connection can become a "content provider" and start-ups like Google or Yahoo can lure tons of targeted advertising dollars, the Journal is still a central, trusted institution that's required reading for much of the business world. A journalistic megabrand, the Journal tries to make sense of what's going on in the financial world, then presents its findings in what I consider a highly professional, generally disinterested manner. (I'm talking about the Journal's news pages...
  • BeliefWatch: Budding Buddhists

    The Beliefnet.com post is typical teenage angst, but with a twist. Mother is a zealous new convert to Roman Catholicism. Father is along for the ride. "Silentmist" wants an answer to this question: "How should I go about telling [my mother] about my Buddhism?"We should have seen this coming. The baby boomers experimented with everything; they left their childhood faiths for other faiths or nothing at all; they intermarried and raised their children to be "spiritual but not religious." Now a small but growing number find themselves in the uncomfortable but not necessarily unhappy position of driving their high-school-age kids to Buddhist retreats. Diana Winston, the author of "Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens," has been teaching Buddhism to youth for more than a decade, and she says she's seen it change from a fringe practice to something normal and accepted, especially on the coasts. (In the middle of the country, Winston says, kids sometimes practice Buddhism in secret; they...
  • After 'The Sopranos', HBO's Next Act

    To help remodel the house that Tony Soprano built, HBO will unveil five original series over the next year, including a show about a combustible family of California surfers, a broad satire of filthy-rich Friends of Dubya set deep in the heart of Texas and a relationship drama with scenes of raw sexuality between four different couples, among them a pair of white-haired sixtysomethings. That last show is called "Tell Me You Love Me," and it could lead to a revision of HBO's time-honored slogan: it's not TV, it's an old man's butt. Yet HBO's most radical new show might turn out to be "In Treatment," debuting this fall and starring Gabriel Byrne. It's about a therapist who talks to his patients about their problems. "I know. Yawn," says Carolyn Strauss, HBO's president of original programming. But just as "The Sopranos" was no ordinary Mafia tale, "In Treatment" is not your average show about a shrink. It's a half-hour drama—a rarity in itself—and it will air five nights a week for...
  • 'Mr. Brooks': Murder in 12 Steps

    If you've seen the trailer for the Kevin-Costner-is-a-killer movie "Mr. Brooks," you might fear that the entire plot has been given away. The good news: there are many twists, turns, subplots and surprises that the coming attractions don't even hint at. The bad news: these twists and turns are so preposterous, or so irrelevant, that they undermine the movie they're meant to tart up.The title character, played by Costner, is a pillar of the Portland, Ore., community, a happily married husband and father who has an unfortunate addiction to murder. He even goes to AA meetings to deal with his problem, though he's understandably reticent about sharing. His only confidant is—himself: Mr. Brooks has a devilish alter ego who goads him on in his life of crime, and this evil id-dude is played, very cannily, by William Hurt. As the bickering sides of Mr. Brooks's twisted psyche, Costner and Hurt have a delicious chemistry, but it doesn't bode well for a movie when the only two compelling...
  • New Laws to Protect Public Breast Feeding

    A few weeks ago, the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal visited a public park in New York—and breast-fed her 8-month-old daughter, Ramona. Kudos, right? After all, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms nurse for at least a year. Nope. Gawker.com posted a picture of a partially exposed breast and called it a "momtroversy." The photo is now on a "nude" Web site.What gives? Even formula makers say "breast is best." Nursing reduces a baby's risk of diarrhea, ear infections, urinary-tract infections and bacterial infections (and perhaps food allergies, obesity and diabetes). It also lowers a mom's risk of breast and ovarian cancer—and, since it burns 500 calories a day, helps her lose weight. And it's free, while formula costs about $1,500 a year. Yet new evidence shows that there has been a decline in the number of women breast-feeding, reversing a steady increase over the past three decades. "The culture does very little to support mothers in what they need—information,...
  • Quindlen: Driving to The Funeral

    If someone told you that there was one behavior most likely to lead to the premature death of your kid, wouldn't you do something about that?
  • Book Excerpt: 'The Keep' By Jennifer Egan

    The castle was falling apart, but at 2 a.m. under a useless moon, Danny couldn’t see this. What he saw looked solid as hell: two round towers with an arch between them and across that arch was an iron gate that looked like it hadn’t moved in three hundred years or maybe ever.He’d never been to a castle before or even this part of the world, but something about it all was familiar to Danny. He seemed to remember the place from a long time ago, not like he’d been here exactly but from a dream or a book. The towers had those square indentations around the top that little kids put on castles when they draw them. The air was cold with a smoky bite, like fall had already come even though it was mid-August and people in New York were barely dressed. The trees were losing their leaves—Danny felt them landing in his hair and heard them crunching under his boots when he walked. He was looking for a doorbell, a knocker, a light: some way into this place or at least a way to find the way in. He...
  • Q&A: Elder-Care Technology

    Elder Care expert Marion Somers talks about easy ways to use technology to help take care of aging relatives.
  • Award Offered for Loch Ness Monster Photo

    Whether an elephant, a plesiosaur, a real monster or nothing at all, Nessie is back. After a new film of the Loch Ness monster was released early this month, a British bookmaker has decided to offer 1 million pounds to anyone who takes a picture of the sea creature at this weekend’s Rock Ness music festival. They’re even providing disposable cameras to 50,000 eager participants. Of course, this isn’t the first time that monster hunters have trekked to the Scottish Highlands. Here’s a timeline of the Nessie legend. ...
  • Paris Hilton's Celebrity Justice

    Hotel heiress Paris Hilton went to jail, came home for medical reasons—and has now been sent back again. Inside the strangest journey into celebrity justice since O.J.
  • TV: The End of 'The Sopranos'

    One of the perks of being a TV critic is that you get to see all the shows before the public does. So you can imagine what my week has been like. Everyone who knows what I do for a living has asked me: "Does Tony die at the end of 'Sopranos'?" One person framed the question like this: "Do we know what happens at the end of 'Sopranos'?" To which I responded: "We can't know because you obviously do not." I know—bitchiness is never becoming, but I couldn't help myself. The fact is, I don't know how "The Sopranos" ends, and I'm very, very bitter about it. After all the hours I wasted watching "Lucky Louie," at least HBO could slip me the finale. I promise I won't tell anyone.OK, that's probably not true—I am a reporter, after all. I'd have to tell someone, even if it were only my mother. But since HBO doesn't trust me, I have no choice but to make something up. What follows are my theories of what might happen to Tony and the gang (what's left of it) on this Sunday's series finale: ...
  • Murakami's Novel of Night

    A few days ago, my daughter, who just graduated from high school, was bemoaning the fact that when college runs out she'll never have summer vacation to look forward to again (this is a young woman who thinks ahead). I told her she was wrong, that summer vacation is a state of mind, and that as soon as the Memorial Day buzzer goes off, your brain somehow switches to a more relaxed frequency for the duration of summer. You may still go to work each morning, or carry on with the everyday responsibilities of life, but somehow it's not as onerous as it is the rest of the year. This is one of those things that's hard to explain, but I know it's true.How else to explain beach reading? We don't go on vacation the whole summer, but come June a lot of us do lighten the content of our reading lists for the next three or so months. (The phrase "beach reading" is, in fact, hideously misleading. Trust me, I lived at the beach for 12 years and have done the research: even under a beach umbrella,...
  • Listening In: Paris and the Pokey

    Should the Hilton hotel heiress be forced back to jail? Should she be allowed to serve out her term under house arrest? Should you care?
  • Q&A With 'La Vie En Rose' Star

    In ‘La Vie En Rose’ Marion Cotillard portrays legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf in a performance that has been called extraordinary. Piaf ("the Little Sparrow") had a tumultuous life. Born in 1915 in the Belleville section of Paris to a 17-year-old Italian mother and a contortionist father, she was left as a young girl in the care of her fraternal grandmother who ran a brothel.When she was a young child, a severe case of conjunctivitis left her nearly blind. She recovered her sight after her grandmother’s prostitutes pooled their money to send her on a pilgrimage honoring Saint Theresa.Her life included being accused as an accessory to murder (she was acquitted), friendships with Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich, helping the French Resistance, having the love of her life (boxer Marcel Cerdan) die in a plane accident, a serious addiction to methadone and, oh yes, recording some of the most unforgettable songs of the last century. When she died in 1963, the streets of Paris...
  • Why Michael Moore Helped Save Enemy Site

    Jim Kenefick, 36, is the founder of Moorewatch.com, one of the Web's most visited anti-Michael Moore sites. So imagine Kenefick's surprise when he received a friendly voice mail last month—from Moore himself, calling from the Cannes Film Festival premiere of his agitprop documentary “Sicko.” The lefty filmmaker had two things to tell his cybercritic. First, he wanted Kenefick to know that he and his Web site appear prominently (albeit anonymously) in “Sicko,” his soon-to-be-released attack on the American health-care industry. In the film, Moore shows several of Kenefick’s blog posts where he pleads for money to keep MooreWatch.com alive because his wife's medical bills (Kenefick says she has a neurological disorder) have almost bankrupted him. He is saved at the last minute when a mysterious donor sends a $12,000 check, enough to keep the site going and pay insurance premiums for a year—which brought Moore to his second point. Before the world found out from his film, the filmmaker...
  • Horror: The New Chick Flick?

    In 1980, Roger Ebert reviewed the brutal grindhouse horror movie “I Spit On Your Grave,” about a woman who takes revenge on the four men who savagely raped her. Ebert called the film “a vile bag of garbage” that is “without a shred of artistic distinction.” He said watching it was one of the most depressing experiences of his life. When Hannah Forman, a 26-year-old amateur film theorist and feminist, saw the film for the first time in 2003, her reaction was quite different. “I felt really good after watching it,” Forman says.Having known about the film since her early teens, Forman was terrified to see it until, drawn in by intellectual curiosity, she gathered a group of friends to watch it. By the end, they were all cheering. “It was one of the first films I’d ever seen that showed a rape in natural lighting and from the victim’s perspective,” she says. “It’s not glamorized or sensationalized in any way. And it shows the woman getting revenge on the men who violated her, and she...
  • Q&A: 'Monster Pig' Hunter Tells His Story

    Last month, an 11-year-old Alabama boy made headlines across the globe when he felled a giant hog on a hunting reserve. Photos swept the Internet, and Jamison Stone’s trophy was dubbed Monster Pig and Hogzilla II (the original Hogzilla, killed in Georgia in 1994, weighed about 1,000 pounds). But animal-rights activists, hunting purists and even a few Photoshop aficionados began voicing doubts about the story, suggesting the photograph was a hoax or that the big pig was less wild, huge and terrifying than its nicknames implied. In fact, the hog was very real and very big, but it wasn’t feral, as the hunter originally believed. NEWSWEEK’s Kendyl Salcito caught up with Jamison and his father, now in their 14th minute of fame. Excerpts: ...
  • TB Scare: The Public-Health Slip-Ups

    Public-health and homeland-security officials admitted to slip-ups in their handling of the Andrew Speaker TB case. Will the government be ready next time?
  • Books: Tim Gunn's Guide to Style

    Fashion guru Tim Gunn details his new book, his hopes for American fashion and what he expects to see in this season's 'Project Runway.'
  • Humor: TB Guy Tops Bush in New Poll

    In the latest erosion of George W. Bush’s job-approval rating, a new poll released today reveals that the president is now less popular among the American people than the so-called “TB Guy,” Atlanta attorney Andrew Speaker. While Bush’s ratings have been in a virtual free-fall in recent months, few political insiders expected him to be trounced by Speaker, who has been accused of exposing airline passengers to tuberculosis.Additionally, the poll results are historic in another way, since they mark the first time that a sitting president has been deemed less popular than a quarantined disease carrier.But at the White House today, official spokesman Tony Snow tried to put a positive spin on the numbers, saying that Speaker’s poll numbers received an artificial “bounce” as a result of all of the press coverage he has received in recent days. “If President Bush had been quarantined for spreading tuberculosis around the world, his numbers would be right up there with the TB Guy’s,” Snow...
  • In Hollywood, Beta Males Best Alpha Dogs

    Ben Stone isn't what you'd call a player. He lives with four buddies in a squalid slacker palace. He's chubby, furry and happily unemployed, unless you count a scheme to launch a Web site charting every female nude scene in Hollywood history. One night, Ben (Seth Rogen) and his C-list posse hit a neighborhood bar where, as luck would have it, they meet two A-list blondes. Ben is (typically) unshaven, wearing a rumpled, untucked shirt, and totally drunk. Still, he manages (miraculously) to persuade stunning Alison (Katherine Heigl) to dance, and proceeds to embarrass himself with his cheesy "throwing the dice" move. ("That's all he's got," one of his friends says sadly.) Alison, out celebrating a big job promotion, is drunk enough herself not to be scared off. In fact, she invites Ben to her house, where she elicits another geeky move when she strips. "You're so much prettier than I am!" Ben says. Considering the scene is from the upcoming film "Knocked Up," you can probably guess...
  • New Research into Pain Treatment

    Millions of aging boomers and the latest generation of wounded soldiers hope the secrets of our most enduring medical foe can finally be unlocked
  • Movie Overboard!

    I knew I was in for a long night when Johnny Depp finally makes his appearance in the third—and let us pray final—installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Depp, as Jack Sparrow, is residing in Davy Jones's locker—i.e., he's dead—where he is the solitary captain of a landlocked Black Pearl, and subject to hallucinations. In his visions, every crew member looks like Johnny Depp, and in fact is Johnny Depp, but if you think that 10 versions of the scene-stealing star will increase your enjoyment tenfold, think again. Sparrow, I am sorry to say, does not get one explosive laugh in the entire 168 minutes of this loud, cluttered and confusing sequel. More is not merrier.The plot is not only hard to follow, there seems to be nothing real at stake. Half the characters are already dead, and half the movie seems to involve swordfights with dead people who can't be killed with swords. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley expended their chemistry in the first, and best, "Pirates"...
  • My Turn: Scheduling Adulthood One Page at a Time

    My first day planner was a college-graduation present from a well-intentioned relative. I'd untied the ribbon on the small box hoping for an iPod, so I was puzzled when I saw a black book bound in leather. I thumbed through the pages, each one divided into 12 boxes, a rectangle for each hour in the waking day. It seemed a cruel reminder that I was floating without a plan.I placed the planner on a corner of my desk. When I moved out of my dorm room the day after graduation, I left it there.For the next two years, I remained anti day planner. I landed a job as an editor at a magazine, but my days were all uniform. What did I need to write down? "Work, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m." Was there any chance I'd forget?My plans with friends were made on the fly, our phone conversations ending in, "So, see you in an hour?" I figured if I couldn't remember those rare events planned in advance, they must not have been that important anyway. My parents and people in business suits—they owned day planners....
  • Truth and Doo-Wop

    Let us consider two great experiences of Western culture. One is viewing "Girl With a Pearl Earring," by the 17th-century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, which hangs in a museum in The Hague. The other is a performance of "Up on the Roof" by the 20th-century R&B group the Drifters. For that, you have many choices, including Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters and Charlie Thomas's Drifters, various "cover" bands (which do their own versions of classic hits), "tribute" bands (which mimic the original performances down to the white shoes) and a shadowy category of groups that perform under the original names and may benefit from the audience's assumption that at least one of the elderly gentlemen on stage once crooned the selfsame lyrics on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Fate decreed there would be only one Vermeer, but many Drifters—and Coasters and Platters and other rock groups from the era before MTV. "How many?" asks Jon Bauman rhetorically. "As many as you can pay for. On New Year's Eve...
  • Reagan's Diaries: Sweet—And Steady

    Ronald Reagan's fans and foes disagree about almost everything, except this: they both tend to depict the 40th president as something of a one-dimensional figure. To those who love him, the Gipper is the hero who rescued America from self-doubt and the world from communism. To those who revile him, Reagan was a coldhearted cowboy who tried to classify ketchup as a vegetable for school kids and subverted Congress in the Iran-contra affair.The publication this week of "The Reagan Diaries" should give both sides reason to see the late president as a more complicated and more interesting man than either caricature would suggest. The journals, which Reagan kept throughout his White House years, are more record than reflection: he has his generation's tendency to avoid emotion; "a good time was had by all" is used here without irony. A performer, a public man—he was a lifeguard, a sportscaster, an actor and a politician—he seems to have always had an eye on his audience, and these...
  • Out of What 'Shadows'?

    Who knew? The nation's fastest-growing metropolitan area is in Southern Utah. The continuing growth of this area is, however, contingent on something that is contingent on Congress. This region around the town of St. George in Washington County (which has grown about 40 percent since 2000) is the destination for a familiarAmerican phenomenon, "internal immigration." A river of Americans, many of them in or near retirement and most of them escaping (as they see it) from California's congestion, taxes, housing costs, crime and other blemishes, are buying houses about as fast as lumber can be sawed and nails driven, and are eager to purchase services. But Utah's Sen. Robert Bennett has been told by representatives of the county's construction industry that if the flow of illegal immigrants comes to an abrupt halt, so will the county's growth.Now, allowing for hyperbole, of which there is an abundance in the immigration debate, such anecdotal evidence, especially concerning construction...
  • A Life in Books: Jasper Fforde

    To Jasper Fforde, nursery rhymes and literature aren't just great reads—they're fodder for his own comic novels, set in parallel worlds where the Gingerbreadman is a serial killer and Miss Havisham mingles with mortals. Some works he (probably) won't alter: ...
  • Birth of an Insemination

    What "the 40-year-Old Virgin" suggested, "Knocked Up" confirms. Judd Apatow is making the freshest, most honest mainstream comedies in Hollywood. The writer-director has managed to synthesize the neurotic, outsider comedy of Woody Allen, the benign satire of Paul Mazursky and the gross-out combustibility of the Farrelly Brothers into a sweet, raunchy and loose style all his own.Apatow's favorite subject is the eternally adolescent male, in this case the reefer-smoking, videogame-playing slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), whose inclination is to remain forever in the romper room of overgrown childhood. Reality bites in the form of Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), an out-of-his-league beauty who takes the frazzled, grateful Ben to bed after too many drinks. The movie's title telegraphs the outcome. Alison wants the baby, and she wants to get to know the father, and thus "Knocked Up" weaves its very contemporary variation on a romantic comedy, in which Ben must face the horror of ......
  • Making Connections

    Rarely has there been as neat a fit between a book's subject and its author's biography as in "Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization" by Nayan Chanda (372 pages. Yale University Press). It's easy to see why the subject fascinates Chanda; he's a self-proclaimed Francophile of South Asian origin, who studied French in Calcutta, then took courses on China in Paris, wrote a noteworthy book about Southeast Asia, ran a magazine in Hong Kong and ended up launching an online journal devoted to globalization at a venerable Ivy League institution. And in this engaging analysis, he answers such intriguing questions as "How did the coffee bean, first grown only in Ethiopia, end up in our coffee cups after a journey through Java and Colombia?"In examining these specific questions—and larger ones about how the world is interconnected—Chanda does not emphasize his own experiences. But when appropriate, he effectively uses small, personal details to...
  • I Had a Home in Africa

    The wall around the ha- rare cemetery is gone. Corn grows among the graves. From the soiled clumps of paper and the fetid smell, it's clear the burial ground in Zimbabwe is being used as an open-air toilet. The garden of remembrance is still shaded by wild musasa trees, but the brass plaques inscribed with the names of the cremated are missing—every single one. Thieves melted them down, explains a cemetery worker, "to make brass handles for coffins for the people who died of this AIDS."Peter Godwin's account of this 2002 visit to his sister's tomb comes midway through "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun," his memoir about his family in southern Africa. It is one of many poignant moments in a book that serves as both a stark chronicle of the devastation wreaked by President Robert Mugabe and the pain of a son trying to care for his aging parents. Godwin, 49, shuttles between New York and Harare as his father's health deteriorates and his mother's hip collapses. Each visit is complicated...