Tag Archives: Christopher Hitchens

North Korea and Literature

North Korea is in part fascinating because it is mysterious. Cut off from viewing eyes not by geographical remoteness but by political design, the state and the lives within it seem strange and bizarre to observers. The mystery of the hermit state is part of its myth, which is cultivated by North Korea’s leadership, as well as a by-product of its peculiar circumstances. Outsiders can enter only irregularly. Western journalists cannot report on North Korea as they might any other country. Outside analysts can only guess at the bare facts of its economy, its politics and its culture. Continue reading

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A Dirty Business: The Attack on Michael Weiss

Richard Silverstein, a blogger, has written a hit piece. This description, which may seem at first intemperate, is entirely merited. The article Silverstein wrote, which was published on a fringe website, The Unz Review, a week ago, has little in the way of a narrative thread. Its genesis can be attributed, one can safely assume, to Silverstein’s hatred of one man: Michael Weiss, a writer and journalist, co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, and an editor at The Daily Beast. Weiss is seen to represent something Silverstein hates – a slightly intangible collection of leftist, Zionist, ‘neoconservative’ (of which more later) and other positions, including, apparently, Weiss’ pledged support for ‘socialize[d] healthcare’. Continue reading

When Historians Write About the Past, Are They Nearly Always Writing About the Present?

On one level, one must agree with the statement entirely: every historian, in the act of writing, is implicitly chronicling his or her own times. In a basic sense, this can be seen in the language or dialect they use, even in the vernacular of their work. Each is connected with history, but each is still of the present, directed by the exigencies of the present day. The words themselves might also have political connotations from which they cannot be entirely dissociated. E. H. Carr, in his seminal work of historiography What is History?, provides a pertinent example:

The names by which successive French historians have described the Parisian crowds which played so prominent a role in the French Revolution ­­– le sans-cullottes, le peuple, la canaille, le bras-nus – are all, for those that know the rules of the game, manifestos of a political affiliation and of a particular interpretation.[1]

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