Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dies at 89. Solzhenitsyn, whose stubborn, lonely and combative literary struggles gained the force of prophecy as he revealed the heavy afflictions of Soviet Communism in some of the most powerful works of fiction and history written in the 20th century, died late Sunday in Russia. His son Yermolai said the cause was a heart condition. He outlived by nearly 17 years the state and system he had battled through years of imprisonment, ostracism and exile. — NYT

The Devastation of Iraq’s past. “What is currently taking place in southern Iraq,” Gil Stein, the director of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, writes in the catalog to “Catastrophe!,” the institute’s disturbing new exhibition on the subject, “is nothing less than the eradication of the material record of the world’s first urban, literate civilization.” — New York Review of Books

What’s really killing newspapers. Not that long ago, the daily newspaper was an indispensable coiner of social currency, and it gave its readers piles of the stuff in each edition. The phrase, which comes from sociology, is often used to describe the information we acquire and then trade—or give away—to start, maintain, and nurture relationships with our fellow humans. — Slate

Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations is a thorough who’s who of nuclear proliferating bad guys and the dishes that compliment them. In passing, Fair, who works for a major defense contractor (is there any other kind these days?), extends a middle finger to the very military-industrial complex that signs her probably rather large paychecks, and in the process plays haphazardly with the adage don’t shit where you eat. — Radar

 

Peter Fray

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