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 Küntzel, translated from the German by Colin Meade, with a preface by Jeffrey Herf (Telos Press Publishing). This is quite an eye-opening book.From Derek Chollet's Washington Post review of Berman's Power and the Idealists: Or, the Passion of Joschka Fischer and Its Aftermath:
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.
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."Learn more about Paul Berman at his NYU profile webpage.
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]