Friday, April 4, 2008

Paul Berman

Paul Berman is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

He is author of Power and the Idealists and Terror and Liberalism, and the editor, most recently, of Carl Sandburg: Selected Poems.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I have just finished reading an excellent study of Nazi influences on Islamist radicalism called Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 by Matthias K√ľntzel, translated from the German by Colin Meade, with a preface by Jeffrey Herf (Telos Press Publishing). This is quite an eye-opening book.

Right now I am reading Full Circle by Edith Kurzweil, with a preface by Walter Laqueur (Transaction Publishers). The book is a memoir of the classic New York intellectuals by the final editor of Partisan Review -- a marvelously flavorful book, recounting a dramatic immigrant intellectual life, full of pointed reflections and anecdotes.

And I am reading a novel by Pascal Bruckner, L'Amour du Prochain (Grasset) -- a salacious novel, mischievous and wise, by a brilliant philosopher.
From Derek Chollet's Washington Post review of Berman's Power and the Idealists: Or, the Passion of Joschka Fischer and Its Aftermath:
Paul Berman's fine new book is propelled by two images. One is of a young, leftist radical in a black motorcycle helmet beating up a police officer during a 1970s street protest. The other is of a dignified European statesman in a three-piece suit at a stuffy policy conference, refusing to accept the Bush administration's rationale for war with Iraq and publicly confronting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with a blunt riposte: "Excuse me, I am not convinced."

Of course, the thug in the helmet and the diplomat in the suit are the same person, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. [read on]

Learn more about Paul Berman at his NYU profile webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue