The Brooklyn-born playwright and critic Lionel Abel, who cut his political teeth in left-wing circles in Greenwich Village in the 1930s, remarked in his memoirs that during the Depression years, New York City “went to Russia and spent most of the decade there.” Leaving aside Mr. Abel’s taste for the mordant, he had a point.
For a few decades — from the 1930s until Communism’s demise as an effective political force in the 1950s — New York City was the one place where American communists came close to enjoying the status of a mass movement. Party members could live in a milieu where co-workers, neighbors and the family dentist were fellow Communists; they bought life insurance policies (excellent value for money) from party-controlled fraternal organizations; they could even spend their evenings out in night clubs run by Communist sympathizers (like the ironically named Café Society on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, a showcase for up-and-coming black performers like Billie Holliday).… Seguir leyendo »
On Sunday, PBS debuted “The Vietnam War,” Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s long-awaited, 18-hour documentary on the conflict and its legacy. As engrossing as the film is, just as noteworthy has been the commentary about it, both critical and in praise. And this, I am sure, is one of the filmmakers’ goals: to jumpstart a conversation about a conflict that deepened divisions within America, opened new ones and redefined the country’s role in the world — with repercussions that are still felt today.
What do you think of the documentary? Discuss it by clicking here and going to the comments section.… Seguir leyendo »
Wilco Van Rooijen, a Dutch mountain climber, managed to survive the debacle this week that took the lives of 11 others in Pakistan on K2, the world’s second-highest peak. Describing the chaotic events that ensued when a pinnacle of ice collapsed and swept away fixed ropes that climbers from several expeditions high on the mountain had counted on to aid their descent from the summit, Mr. van Rooijen lamented: “Everybody was fighting for himself, and I still do not understand why everybody were leaving each other.”
Himalayan mountaineering is an inherently dangerous pastime, and climbers are always at risk from the unexpected.… Seguir leyendo »