The everything book

On reading in the age of Amazon, with a rare look inside the company’s inner sanctum

“As secret labs go, it’s a bit underwhelming: There’s a conference table, a whiteboard, and a 10th-floor view of Highway 101 — the congested freeway that links San Francisco to Silicon Valley. Against one wall is a row of Kindles, every model since the device was first introduced. On a long conference table sit dozens of prototypes for this year’s Kindle Voyage.” Image Credit

Casey Newton | The Verge

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Inside Beijing’s airpocalypse

How China’s capital is beginning to resemble an ‘inhospitable planet’

“The British School is the latest of Beijing’s international colleges to go to the drastic lengths of building an artificial bubble in which to simulate a normal environment beneath the cloak of smog. Earlier this year, the nearby International School of Beijing lavished £3m on a pair of domes covering an area of six tennis courts…” Image Credit

Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian

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A damned nice thing

On Roger Knight’s Britain against Napoleon: The Organisation of Victory, 1793-1815

“It should not be surprising that Napoleon’s credentials as a progressive survived the butchery that attended his progress from battle to battle. In those days of very large families and very high infant mortality, death in combat was not yet a scandal…” Image Credit

Edward Luttwak | The London Review of Books

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The dynasties of 2016

On American royalty

“The prospect of a sequence of presidents that runs Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Clinton/Bush has already created oodles of angst over the prospect of a hereditary duopoly in American politics—interrupted only briefly by Barack Obama, who might easily appear in retrospect as something of a novelty candidate.” Image Credit

David A. Graham | The Atlantic

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Massacre in Peshawar

Even by Peshawar’s standards, the attack on a school was a particularly brutal event

“Remarkably, the massacre was even condemned by Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, whom India considers the mastermind of the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. Saeed released a statement describing the murder of children as “cowardly behavior”…” Image Credit

Basharat Peer | The New Yorker

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In the darkness of Dick Cheney

In light of the torture report, Mark Danner’s excellent piece on Dick Cheney from earlier this year

“The pinnacle of power had been attained not in Baghdad but long before, when the leaders decided to set out on this ill-starred military adventure. By invading Iraq Bush administration policymakers—and at their head, Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—had managed to demonstrate to the world not the grand extent of American power but its limits.” Image Credit

Mark Danner | The New York Review of Books

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How American paranoia censored comic books

On the ‘threat’ of comic books to America in the era of McCarthyism

“Comics became his crusade…Wertham’s public attacks on comic books started in a 1948 interview with Collier’s Magazine called “Horror in the Nursery.” From there, he spoke at a symposium called “The Psychopathy of Comic Books,” explaining how he believed that comic book readers were sexually aggressive, and this led to them committing crimes.” Image Credit

Alex Abad-Santos | Vox

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Degrees of danger

On the indebted labour building Western ‘high-culture’ institutions in the Gulf

“It was 3 a.m. on the mostly deserted highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi—not a good time or place to be attracting the attention of Emirati authorities—and an unknown sedan was tailing our late-night movements. For the past several hours, we had been trying to shake him off, taking cues from movies we had seen, but the car just kept popping up in the rearview mirror.” Image Credit

Andrew Ross | The Baffler

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The rocky road to Tara

The chaotic story of the making of Gone With The Wind

“Louis B. Mayer possessed two things that Selznick desperately required: limitless capital and Gable’s contract. In August 1938, Mayer agreed to loan his top star and $1.25 million in cash to what was quickly becoming his son-in-law’s very public folly.” Image Credit

Chris Nashawaty | Entertainment Weekly

Read It Now (14 min)