“The targeted killings have their message for the world of the drug users and dealers,” writes James Fenton, reporting from Manila on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. “The crazy and seemingly haphazard extrajudicial killings, the corpses suffocated with packing tape and dumped at the side of the road with sadistic jokes on cardboard signs (and one that, when turned over, revealed a...
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Murderous Manila: On the Night Shift

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"The Women's March was an expression of dissent directed at a president who is notoriously impatient with nuance and who is fixated, to an alarming degree, on imagery, on the medium to the exclusion of the message; the protests spoke Trump’s language," writes Emily Eakin.

The Crowds That Mattered

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When everyday reality feels like science fiction. Francine Prose on Black Mirror:

The Dystopia in the Mirror

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Weekend reading: Umberto Eco’s 1995 list of 14 features that are typical of fascism, which, he wrote, “can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances—every day, in every part of the world.”

Ur-Fascism

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Hans Holbein’s 'The Dance of Death', just published in a new edition by Penguin Classics, was intensely engaged with the problem of corruption in politics.

Even the Emperor

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Joan Acocella reviews ‘What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves’ by Benjamin Bergen and ‘In Praise of Profanity’ by Michael Adams.

‘F’-ing Around

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"What is vulgar? These days a certain president-elect comes to mind," writes Hilary Reid. "But there’s more to it than the gilded rooms at Mar-a-Lago. The word’s many meanings and many forms are at the heart of 'The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined,' an expansive exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London."

Embracing the Vulgar

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"We shouldn’t forget that these texts were usually written by very young men who had barely left their parents’ house when they reached for the pen," says Julian Rosefeldt of the artist manifestos he uses in his video installation 'Manifesto,' reviewed by Liza Batkin.

Art That Won’t Stop Talking

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"Trump's response to Representative John Lewis is what happens when an autocratic leader is challenged by the voice of moral authority," writes Masha Gessen.

The Threat of Moral Authority

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In a new book, Edward Jay Epstein lays out the case that behind his image as a whistle-blower, Edward Snowden was an “espionage source” for Russia—perhaps its dupe at first, or perhaps its willing spy all along.

Charlie Savage reviews ‘How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft,’ and finds that the author’s “indulgence in speculation, his treatment of questionable...
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Was Snowden a Russian Agent?

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Floating between fiction and autobiography, Egyptian filmmaker Tamer El Said’s first film, 'In the Last Days of the City,' captures the continuities between the decades preceding the 2011 revolution, and the stark reality that has emerged in Cairo since.

Cairo Without End

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Jessica Mathews reviews ‘The Field of Fight’ by Michael T. Flynn, Donald Trump’s choice as national security advisor. The book “reveals a man so utterly out of touch with the real world at home or in the Middle East that it’s hard to believe even Trump could take him seriously for long,” she writes.

What Trump Is Throwing Out the Window

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day offers a chance to reflect on our country's history of civil disobedience and the struggle for civil rights. Imani Perry reviews photographer Ruddy Roye's 2016 series 'When Living Is a Protest.'

What Protest Looks Like

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Annette Gordon-Reed reviews Robert Parkinson's 'The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution,' which "offers a provocative alternative to the conventional views that blacks’ perpetual alien status in the United States is simply a natural outgrowth of having been enslaved. Americans were deciding who was 'in' and who was 'out' as soon as they began to fight Great Britain."

The Captive Aliens Who Remain Our Shame

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“If we knew—really knew—that the future was settled and our choices illusory, how would we live? Could we do that? What would it feel like?” James Gleick reviews Arrival.

When They Came from Another World

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Ian Johnson interviews Tan Hecheng about his meticulous book, released in English this week, in which he lays out in devastating detail one of the darkest, and least known episodes in Communist Chinese history.

China’s Hidden Massacres: An Interview with Tan Hecheng

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Ben Ratliff on John Berger: "His writing breathes with many mouths: the books fuse letters, poems, polemics, anecdotes, and description. He expanded the practice of criticism."

The Song of John Berger

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"What does it mean when the man chosen to run the State Department has no experience in government but ample experience doing business with dictators of every stripe?" writes Christian Caryl.

The Autocrats’ Diplomat?

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Nobel laureates Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen propose a new electoral system: "Is majority rule a realistic alternative to plurality rule in presidential elections? We think so."

The Rules of the Game: A New Electoral System

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"A close reading of the intelligence report on Russian interference in the US election shows that it does nothing to clarify the abnormalities of Trump’s campaign and election. Instead, it suggests that the US intelligence agencies’ Russia expertise is weak," writes Masha Gessen.

Russia, Trump & Flawed Intelligence

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