It's almost impossible to write about 'Never Let Me Go' without spoilers. This is telling, and too bad, because while the revelation about the nature of the students at Hailsham is dramatic, it's also not the real story, which is much more about the human condition than any sci-fi plot twist.
We like to think of writers, like heroes, as isolated beings. But a book is also shaped the system of editors, agents, publishers, teachers, and readers. Harper Lee did have help in writing 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' It takes nothing away from her accomplishment to realize that the dynamic interplay between individual effort and structural support is particularly pertinent to Lee's story.
David Mitchell's huge new book centers on a young Dutch clerk who, in 1799, arrives in Dejima, the artificial island and isolated Dutch trading post in Nagasaki harbor, and on a midwife, Orito Aibawaga, with whom Jacob falls in love. The book moves between their two stories, undulating like the sea or the oscillating style of Mitchell's prose.
Tony Judt is an historian, essayist, liberal polemic, and the author of several acclaimed books, including Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. But in the past year, Judt has also become known for his battle with ALS, commonly called Lou Gherig's disease. NEWSWEEK's Louisa Thomas spoke to Judt—who is paralyzed from the neck down and answered questions via e-mail—about some of the larger issues on his mind.
Woodrow Wilson's foes called him an ideologue, a hypocrite, and a coward. His admirers thought he was the hero who put forth the best hope for the world. Teddy Roosevelt labeled him a "prize jackass"; when Wilson died, eulogists compared him to Icarus.
It began as a game to pass the time while the rain fell and lightning struck. Visiting Switzerland in June 1816, a small group—young and rivalrous, amorous and ever so literary—agreed to a ghost-story-writing contest.
In august 1910, Teddy Roosevelt climbed on top of a kitchen table in Osawatomie, Kans., and gave one of the defining speeches of his life. "Ruin in its worst form is inevitable," he said, "if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism." When he described his solution—a "new nationalism" encompassing greater government involvement in financial markets and social programs—the...
An extraordinary act on the ball field redefines fair play.