“Whatever the [Fulbright] program became,” writes Boston Globe correspondent Sam Lebovic, “it was first conceived as a budget-priced megaphone to transmit American ideas to the world, rather than as a genuine international dialogue.” Indeed, one 1940s newspaper columnist dubbed the program “an ingenious piece of higher mathematics…[that] found a way to finance out of the sale of war junk a worldwide system of American scholarships.”
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman’s piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it’s worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
We’ve published a fair number of pieces about the import of book covers. You may have read one of our US-UK book cover battles. Over at The Awl, Amanda Pickering takes a look at one of the stranger aspects of book design: the animals that appear on the covers of programming books.
“They might underline a page number, draw a little star on the last page, or write their first initial somewhere in the book.” A librarian in Scotland discovered a secret code used by elderly patrons to track which books they already read. From our archives: an essay on the importance of libraries and how they can stay relevant.