The Saturday Essay

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    How the West (and the Rest) Got Rich

    The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.

From Review

Book Reviews

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    Progressivism’s Macroaggressions

    The goal of postmodern progressives isn’t universal truth, but power, which is presented in the guise of equality and social justice. Michael Warren reviews “The Closing of the Liberal Mind” by Kim R. Holmes.

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    Disunited We Stand

    By indulging in ‘competing nostalgias’ for the 1950s, conservatives and liberals ignore our hyper-individualistic culture and economy. Barton Swaim reviews “The Fractured Republic” by Yuval Levin.

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    In Defense of the Suburbs

    Dense urban living discourages child rearing. It is no surprise that there are 80,000 more dogs than children in San Francisco. Shlomo Angel reviews “The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us” by Joel Kotkin.

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    Dwarf-Throwing and Other Romanov Delights

    Czar Alexander I spent most of the 1814-15 Congress of Vienna chasing young women. Stephen Kotkin reviews “The Romanovs: 1613-1918” by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

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    Bowe Bergdahl and the History of Military Justice

    Defendants before military tribunals have contested their authority since the dawn of the republic. John Fabian Witt reviews “Court-Martial: How Military Justice Has Shaped America from the Revolution to 9/11 and Beyond” by Chris Bray.

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    The Highly Underrated Holy Roman Empire

    Imperial passivity meant that individual rulers and states were largely left alone to govern as they wished. Mark Molesky reviews “Heart of Europe” by Peter H. Wilson.

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    Seven Decades of Hunting Down Nazis

    At first punishment was meted swiftly. But those who could delay their day in court got off lightly. Frederick Taylor reviews “The Nazi Hunters” by Andrew Nagorski.

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    The Lost World of the English Country Home

    No insider ever talked about “weekends”: The correct term was “a Saturday to Monday.” D.J. Taylor reviews “The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939” by Adrian Tinniswood.

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    Meghan Cox Gurdon on the Best New Children’s Books

    Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews “Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes” by Sara Gillingham; “Sea Change” by Frank Viva; and “Flora and the Peacocks” by Molly Idle.

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    Scrap Your Swiffer. Use Wonder Bread Instead

    Sliced white bread is great for cleaning books. Use stewed rhubarb to remove rust stains. Moira Hodgson reviews “Mind Your Manors: Tried-and-True British Household Cleaning Tips” by Lucy Lethbridge.

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    The Dodgers and the Birth of the 1960s

    When Maury Wills, the Dodgers’ black shortstop, began dating Doris Day, the team told him to back off. John Schulian reviews “The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers” by Michael Leahy.

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    On the Road With the Rolling Stones

    A young Jagger found his singing style after biting his tongue deeply during basketball-court collision. Bill Janovitz reviews “The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones” by Rich Cohen.

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    An Affecting Novel About the Choices We Make

    Emily is not at work in the World Trade Center when the planes hit—

    but no one knows that. Jessica Lakso reviews “People Who Knew Me” by Kim Hooper.

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    Five Best: Judith Miller

    The author, most recently, of “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey” on memoirs.

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    Sam Sacks on the Best New Fiction

    Reviews of “Inherited Disorders” by Adam Ehrlich Sachs; “The Clouds” by Juan José Saer; and “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” by Grady Hendrix.

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    The Most Joyous Sound of the 20th Century

    Want to hear it? Put on some New Orleans jazz. John Check reviews “How to Listen to Jazz” by Ted Gioia.

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    Why Facebook’s Imitators Failed

    If one’s coworkers are all on the same platform, any alternative will have less utility—even if its features are better. Jeremy Philips on three new books that examine the means by which digital companies try to keep their platform adversaries at bay.

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    Left at the Mercy of the Mullahs

    Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, should have become a cause célèbre after he was seized in Iran in 2007. Washington did next to nothing. Reuel Marc Gerecht reviews “Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran” by Barry Meier.

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    The Original Instagram

    Purists grumbled that Polaroids were ephemeral, but Ansel Adams created some of his most enduring photographs using the camera. Patrick Cooke reviews “The Camera Does the Rest: How Polaroid Changed Photography” by Peter Buse.

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    Two Suns Rising in the East

    China’s stunning growth has bolstered the belief that autocracy beats democracy. More likely than democracy, the author says, is revolution. Mark Moyar reviews “This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States” by Anja Manuel.

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    Fighting Archie Moore, Pitching to Willie Mays and Quarterbacking the Lions

    Wearing number 00, George Plimpton stopped six out of seven Flyers shots
    for the Boston Bruins. Edward Kosner reviews reissues of “Paper Lion” and six other books.

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    America’s Savior and Its Judas

    George Washington and Benedict Arnold shared many bonds and admired each other. Stephen Brumwell reviews “Valiant Ambition” by Nathaniel Philbrick.

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    The Savage War in the West

    The Apache armies did not go gently. They went down in an exceptional spasm of violence.

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    Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Biography of the Gene

    No sooner was a new gene-editing technique devised than scientists themselves called for a moratorium. Nicholas Wade reviews “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

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    The Stories We Tell About the Universe

    The author doesn’t believe in God, but presumably believes in a parallel universe in which he does. Andrew Crumey reviews “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself” by Sean Carroll.

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    The First Battle for the Airwaves

    As head of RCA, Sarnoff championed radio, color television and satellites—and helped create NBC. Howard Schneider reviews “The Network” by Scott Woolley.

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    Tom Nolan on the Best New Mysteries

    After meeting a powerful gangster in prison, a man is given a penthouse and cash—and an assignment.

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    Sam Sacks on the Best New Fiction

    Childbirth is the most ubiquitous of human dramas. Why is it so rarely depicted in fiction?

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    Proof You Can Touch a Baby Bird

    In “Baby Birds,” Julie Zickefoose, like Leonardo in his notebooks, uses art as an instrument of scientific inquiry and science as an occasion for art. In “One Wild Bird at a Time,” Bernd Heinrich, one of the country’s most distinguished writer-naturalists, examines the lives of 17 birds.

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    When Fossil-Finding Was a Contact Sport

    The discovery of a toothed bird made news in the 1870s. A century later, so did feathered dinosaurs. Jennie Erin Smith reviews “House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth” by Richard Conniff.

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