Sunday, September 24, 2006

Q&A with Niall Ferguson

First appeared in the Boston Globe.

WHEN THE Glasgow-born Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and I got together in his office last week, he asked if he might prepare tea before we launched into a discussion of his new book, "The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West."

Gracious as the offer was, in England, where Ferguson, 42, spends part of the year as an Oxford research fellow (he's also a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the Los Angeles Times), he is known less for his disarmingly good manners than for inciting controversy. In "The Pity of War: Explaining World War I" (1998), he proposed that the 20th century would have been less murderous had Germany won the First World War--a thesis that could easily irk an Englishman. In "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" (2004), and in numerous newspaper pieces, he challenges Americans to rethink their place in the world.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Marshall Berman: On the Town

Originally appeared in The Jerusalem Report
Date Approximate

On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square, by Marshall Berman
Random House; 304 pp.; $25

Harvey Blume New York

For Bronx-born and raised Marshall Berman, New York's fabled Times Square was home away from home during his teen years in the 1950s. He's maintained ties to the area since. Now sporting the official title of Distinguished Professor of Political Science at City College, he has teaching responsibilities that regularly bring him to City College's midtown campus, only blocks from the Square. And he'd be the first to acknowledge that his youthful experiences in the Square helped direct him toward his lifelong study of city life.