Arts & Entertainment

Barbie in Birkenstocks

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Lauren Michelle Jackson
Humorless Barbie

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie finds its comedy in the inflexibility of plastic and modern womanhood.

Jill Lepore
The Everyman Library

When my father died I inherited his library: tiny books, held in one hand, all bound in cloth, and smelling of Briggs tobacco.

Ted Reichman
Wind in the Nave

Medna Roso documents a revelatory encounter between improvising musicians and Balkan vocalists in a Cologne church.

Fintan O’Toole
A Frame-Up in Georgia

“Had Freeman not found the inner resources of courage and dignity to resist the almost unbearable pressure heaped on her by the occupant of the White House, she would have signed a false confession to crimes against the integrity of US elections.”

Free from the Archives

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born 115 years ago today. The thirty-sixth president, who assumed office between the printing of the Review’s eighth and ninth issues, first appeared in our pages in “Vice-Presidential Notes: The Sixth Vice-Presidential Note,” Elizabeth Hardwick’s pseudonymous parody of Norman Mailer’s The Presidential Papers.

Johnson was, of course, a frequent subject in the magazine, but it was in the decades after his death, with the publication of each of the first four volumes of Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ, that the scope of his ambition and the magnitude of his presidency came into focus. In 2012 Garry Wills reviewed The Passage of Power, covering Johnson’s vice presidency and his first months as president; in 2002 Marshall Frady read Master of the Senate, which spanned his years in Congress; and in 1990 Garry Wills looked at Means of Ascent, the saga of his long campaign for Senate. The Path to Power, the first volume of Caro’s epic, was published in 1982, and in the Review’s February 17, 1983, issue Murray Kempton found that Caro, like Theodore Dreiser (himself born on August 27), was well-suited to chronicling the “catalogue of rascalities” of the rich and powerful in America.

Murray Kempton
The Great Lobbyist

“Johnson’s art as a seducer consisted wholly of isolating the piece of moonshine dearest to his object, then appropriating it and handing it back as though it were a gift. Naturally he confined his passions for the disinherited to the dinner table; in the cloakrooms he would be more vividly recalled for the coarseness of his ribaldry than for the tenderness of his social sensibilities.”

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