Thomas mann

Love in the shadow of the Nazi threat

The 1930s saw Walter Benjamin write The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Marlene Dietrich rise to fame in The Blue Angel and Pablo Picasso paint ‘Guernica’. If history books mention these events, it’s usually as footnotes to the main European narrative of the pre-war decade. To shift the rise of Nazism, the Spanish Civil War, the Great Terror and other landmarks to the background, one could turn to the cultural history, or the micro-history. In his new book, the German art historian Florian Illies combines both genres to reconstruct the 1930s. Snippets from period documents, including private letters and diaries of notable figures of European and

The moral courage of P.J. O’Rourke

Was it Socrates who said that chaos was the natural state of mankind, and tyranny the usual remedy? Actually it was Santayana, and boy, did he ever get it right. My friend Christopher Mills has given me a terrific book, The Wages of Destruction by Adam Tooze, about the making and breaking of the Nazi economy. I thought I knew everything there is to know about that period, but I hadn’t thought of global economic realities, the ones that actually won the war. Germany’s limited territory and lack of natural resources led to war. Germans had been starving since the end of the Great War, and needed the corn of