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No. 115 / 2017

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Tim Boxer



Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s PartitionPakistan’s Eternal Nemesis

HE end of British domination of its colonial crown jewel India in 1947 resulted in the breakup of the country into two antagonistic states, Hindu-majority India and Islamist Pakistan, the effects of which reverberate to this day. They’ve been hostile from birth, when they slaughtered each other’s minorities, as depicted in Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition.

Partition’s brutalities were worse than the Nazi crimes: “…pregnant women had their breasts cut off and babies hacked out of their bellies; infants were found literally roasted on spits,” according to Nisid Hajari’s riveting account. The author, who spent a decade as Newsweek’s Asia editor, is Asia editor for Bloomberg View.

Pakistan never overcame its hostile stance against its neighbor, viewing India as an existential threat.  Both states went on to develop a nuclear arsenal to keep the other at bay.

Although Pakistan signed on to America’s war on terror, reaping millions of dollars in U.S. military aid, it continued to support the Taliban and other terrorist groups while ensuring that Afghanistan remains within its sphere of influence and not India’s. For Pakistan, the enemy was, and still is, India.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 328 pages, $15.95 Amazon.com Price: $12.95)


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A World Without JewsHow Could It Happen?

HE Nazis, in purging European culture of its Jews, could not possibly have succeeded. The Jews would have continued to live even after their extermination because “they were part and parcel of its identity. Their memory would have lingered. The crime committed against them would have festered. The Nazis would have understood this perfectly because they knew that physical annihilation was no assurance for memory victory.”

How could a nation of poets and thinkers perpetrate a genocide?

Germany went after the Jews and their Book not in spite of being a nation of high culture but because it was such a nation. The new morality of the master race depended on the elimination of the old morality witnessed in the Book of Books. The Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust in the name of culture.

The Nazis exterminated the Jews because they viewed them as representing key registers of time in German, European and Christian history.

The Nazi memory project was built on a contradiction: by assigning the Jews historical importance that merited total extermination, they also ensured that the crime would not and could not be forgotten, be it in a world with or without Jews.

Such is the conclusion of Alon Confino, history professor at the University of Virginia and at Ben Gurion University in Israel in his fascinating book, A World Without Jews. Yale University Press, softcover, 304 pages, $30.00 Amazon.com Price: $20.00)



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The Beatles and Me On Tour by Ivor Davis

Page Turners

AMERICA’S BANKAMERICA’S BANK Renowned financial journalist Roger Lowenstein’s sixth book, America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve, is a highly entertaining and absorbing account of the creation of the nation’s central banking system in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Although I feared the very subject would be sleep inducing, the book gripped my interest page after page. Money is not my strong suit (just ask Nina), but I found the story totally engrossing. A Cornell graduate, Lowenstein wrote for The Wall Street Journal for a decade. His distinguished father, the late Louis Lowenstein, was a Columbia University law professor. Penguin Press, 368 pages, $29.95 Amazon.com Price: $20.36)

FOLK CITYFOLK CITY is the companion book of the folk music revival exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, running till November 29, 2015.  This fascinating account of the origins of folk music in Fun City was curated by Stephen Petrus and Ronald D. Cohen, emeritus professor of history at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Ind. By World War II a thriving folk culture emerged in New York connected with leftist streams of ideology. One of these loosely organized groups was the Almanac Singers, founded by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and others who lived communally in a Greenwich Village loft. They moved into a house and held hootenannies in the basement to raise the rent. Their repertoire consisted mostly of antiwar tunes. When Pearl Harbor struck, they took a sharp turn from left and began to play patriotic songs. Oxford University Press, 320 pages, 150 photos, $39.95 Amazon.com Price: $33.09)

THE ONION MAGAZINE: THE ICONIC COVERSTHE ONION MAGAZINE: THE ICONIC COVERS Put down The Economist, close Time magazine, take a break from The New York Times, and turn to this outrageous Onion book and enjoy a chuckle from “America’s finest news source.” See the cover story on medical malpractice: “How Suing His Doctor Brought One Man’s Son Back to Life.” Then there’s the photo of a starving child with the caption: “For only $5 per month, you can help continue photographing this child.”  And this breathless exclusive report: “Inside the Obama White House, Specifically the Air Conditioning Duct near the West Wing.” These are iconic covers “that transformed an undeserving world.”  Crazy, but funny. Little, Brown and Company, softcover, 262 pages, $17.99 Amazon.com Price: $15.86 (You get a free receipt with purchase!)

OUR MATHEMATICAL UNIVERSEOUR MATHEMATICAL UNIVERSE For one who never fathomed math in school, I got thoroughly engrossed in this book that explains our universe and beyond. That’s how excellent a writer (and teacher) Max Tegmark is. How I wish I could sit in at his physics class at MIT. I heartily recommend his book to anyone interested in our expanding universe, in Einstein’s discoveries, and the eye-opening multiverse. What a trip! Alfred A. Knopf, 422 pages, $16.95 Amazon.com Price: $10.87


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