Years of Upheaval (1981) by Henry Kissinger

A Second Term and a Third-rate Burglary Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth. “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)   Years of Upheaval, the second volume of memoirs by Henry Kissinger, continues his personal account of public service, spanning the time of Nixon’s re-election to Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal.  The memoirs record a short span of time although it encompasses a plethora of geopolitical, domestic, and personal events.  In the words of Homer Simpson, this volume has it all, “the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles.” Riding on … Continue reading Years of Upheaval (1981) by Henry Kissinger

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Critical Appraisal: The Landscape of Hell

The representation of Hell as a cartographic region has its origins in Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Dante adapted the imagery already present in medieval painting and sculpture to comment on his political situation and his own scientific and theological beliefs.  He populated it with real people, including political heroes and villains, good popes and bad popes, adulterous princesses, and monsters human and mythological.  On Dante’s spiritual journey, he traveled with the Roman poet Vergil down the various circles of Hell and then up Mount Purgatory.  Finally, led by his beloved Beatrice, he journeyed through the heavenly spheres until he was in … Continue reading Critical Appraisal: The Landscape of Hell

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Dollhouse Riffs: Special Edition: Victor’s Chin and Sierra’s Cheekbones: Dollhouse and the Reinvention of Beauty on TV

Author’s Note: I wrote this for the Smart Pop Books essay contest featuring Joss Whedon’s beloved-but-canceled TV series Dollhouse.  Since they did not choose my essay, I am posting it here on my blog. Introduction “A mask is but a sum of lines; a face, on the contrary, is above all their thematic harmony.” – “Garbo’s Face,” Mythologies by Roland Barthes Dollhouse is revolutionary television in its depiction of beauty.  The beauty presented on the program encompasses the social, economic, and visual.  We get the exotic beauty of Sierra and Victor, Bennett Halverson’s nerdy beauty, the damaged Dr. Saunders, Alpha’s … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Special Edition: Victor’s Chin and Sierra’s Cheekbones: Dollhouse and the Reinvention of Beauty on TV

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Tiny Book Reviews

The Line of Beauty (2004), by Alan Hollinghurst Alan Hollinghurst reveals his mastery of English prose with The Line of Beauty, the 2004 Man Booker Prize-winning novel set in the decadent days of Thatcher’s Britain.  In the novel, Nick Guest, a Henry James scholar, spends time as a houseguest of the Feddens.  Gerald Fedden is the newly-elected Tory MP and lives with his wife and children in a glorious mansion in Notting Hill.  Nick’s long-burning infatuation for Gerald’s son Toby gets extinguished and then transfigured in the two loves he meets.  The first love is with Leo, a West Indian, … Continue reading Tiny Book Reviews

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Critic’s Notebook: A Demanding Read, Part II (Non-fiction)

The act of reading can exact a demanding price from the reader.  If one lacks preparation, he or she can be left in a wallow of ignorance.  Certain titles exist that a reader approaches with caution.  The Cantos of Ezra Pound, Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and many others.  Non-fiction works also intimidate potential readers.  I am currently reading the second volume of Henry Kissinger’s memoirs, Years of Upheaval, and the first volume of Capital by Karl Marx.  Each extracts certain demands from the reader in its own particular way. Yes, this book actually exists. … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: A Demanding Read, Part II (Non-fiction)

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White House Years (1979) by Henry Kissinger

Tears of a Courtier Political memoirs are works of self-justification.  In the case of Henry Kissinger, he packages these self-justifications in the first volume of his memoirs, White House Years (1979).  As a major partner with President Richard Nixon, Kissinger, working as the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (more commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor), he followed Nixon’s wishes to direct the nation’s foreign policy from the White House.  Kissinger transformed himself from a Harvard academic to a diplomat engineering international relationships (political and military) of world-historical importance. During this period, Nixon and Kissinger could … Continue reading White House Years (1979) by Henry Kissinger

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