Looking at War Across 2,500 Years – The New York Times

I think the United States was right to invade Afghanistan after 9/11 (yet wrong to stay any longer than six months). But even as I differed with his words, I was glad to read them. Edstrom is asking hard questions that both the American people and their leaders have sidestepped for years. For example, he [...]

Asian century began in May 2020 – Asia Times

Asian economic recovery is consistent with success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore have Covid-19 death rates a tenth of Germany’s and a hundredth of the rate in the US, UK, France or Spain. Asia’s short-term surge followed its success in disease prevention. But the long-term driver [...]

How Do You Know If You’re Living Through the Death of an Empire? – Mother Jones

The fall of an empire—the end of a polity, a socioeconomic order, a dominant culture, or the intertwined whole—looks more like a cascading series of minor, individually unimportant failures than a dramatic ending that appears out of the blue. Carts full of olive oil failing to arrive at some nameless fort because of a dysfunctional [...]

The Best History Books of 2020 | Five Books Expert Recommendations

If you're looking for the best history books published this past year, the annual Wolfson History Prize is a great place to start. Each year, the judges pick out outstanding books that are both originally researched and readable. Historian and Wolfson judge Richard Evans talks us through the six history books that made the 2020 [...]

“Land Apart, Shared Sky”: Sino-Japanese Relations Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic – Jamestown

Over the last several years, Sino-Japanese relations have registered steady progress. Despite the intensified international criticism directed toward the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administrations in both Beijing and Tokyo seem keen to maintain this newfound status quo. Russia, Cambodia, and a number of [...]

Iris Murdoch: The Art of Fiction No. 117 – Paris Review

Murdoch and her husband live in a house in academic north Oxford. In its comfortably untidy rooms books overflow the shelves and are piled high on the floor. Even the bathroom is filled with volumes on language, including Dutch and Esperanto grammar books. Her paper-strewn second-floor study is decorated with oriental rugs and with paintings [...]

On the City of Florence’s Struggle to Get Back Dante’s Body | Literary Hub

Giovanni Boccaccio’s call for Florence to retrieve Dante’s corpse appears in retrospect to have been primarily an elaborate literary conceit. The city’s abusive treatment and subsequent unworthiness of Dante enabled Boccaccio to fulfill the principal aim of his biography—notably titled a “treatise in praise of Dante”—by casting the poet and his work as “divine.” Later [...]

When it comes to coronavirus response, superpowers may need to study smaller nations – The Washington Post

... smaller countries have gained newfound recognition as the world takes note of their early, and still tentative, successes. Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, put it this way: The largest and most powerful nations will need to study what went right among smaller and less powerful ones. “I’d like [...]

What is herd immunity and how many people need to be vaccinated to protect a community?

The term herd immunity comes from the observation of how a herd of buffalo forms a circle, with the strong on the outside protecting the weaker and more vulnerable on the inside. This is similar to how herd immunity works in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Those who are strong enough to get vaccinated [...]