Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
The announcement of the iPad earlier this week has prompted a lot of discussion about ebook prices among publishers and their sales partners. That discussion took a major turn yesterday when Amazon pulled the buy buttons for Macmillan's books off their site. Many of Macmillan's titles are still available through Amazon, but only through third parties. Right now, one of the largest publishers in America is no longer available from Amazon because they can not agree on ebook prices. [more inside]
What'll you find at rum.com, van.com, war.com or cat.com? A more-fun-than-most web quiz from the Mental Flossers about some of the best domain names and who owns them. [more inside]
Sam Harris on why religious moderates are worse than fundamentalists. (Salon click-through ad) "Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed."
At least one commander told him, "Follow the soldiers' instructions, because they'll put their lives at risk to save you." But no one tried to censor his drawings or discourage him from going out on missions. -- Steve Mumford is a New York painter who was embedded as a "combat artist" in Iraq. The archives of his Baghdad Journal make for fascinating reading. He has recently published a large book of the art he created on this voyage.
The Peleliu Project. The tiny Micronesian island of Peleliu was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The U.S. invasion of the Japanese occupied island began in September of 1944, and was expected to last only a matter of days. Casualties on this 5 square mile island reached 20,000 by the end of the two-month struggle. U.S. soldiers were forced to pour aviation fuel into caves and ignite them in order to end the standoff of those who refused to surrender. One determined group of 34 Japanese soldiers remained in hiding until they were discovered in April of 1947. Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class Russell Fee returned from Peleliu with a fierce, uncompromising vision of America which would have a profound impact on the life and work of his son. Fifty-three years later, armed with his father's snapshots and diary which he had just uncovered, James Fee went to Peleliu to see with his own eyes the place where his father's vision had taken shape. The result of his five year quest is The Peleliu Project. more inside
We all like getting mail and soldiers stationed far from home or recovering from war injuries in a veterans' hospital really like getting mail. So go through your bookcases and closets and dig out those books you don't read. Got duplicate copies of books or DVDs? What about recent magazines? The Books For Soldiers program sends "care packages for the mind"—books, DVDs and magazines for servicemen and women overseas and in hospitals at home. Just sign into the site, browse soldiers' book requests and send your package.
"Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear." He is one of America's great novelists, but you don't expect Philip Roth to be barreling up the best-seller list with a book that hasn't even been published yet. And yet "The Plot Against America" is in the top 3 at amazon.com. It spins a what-if scenario in which the isolationist and anti-Semitic hero Charles Lindbergh runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats F.D.R. "Keep America Out of the Jewish War", reads a button worn by Lindbergh supporters rallying at Madison Square Garden. And so he does: he signs nonaggression pacts with Germany and Japan that will keep America at peace while the rest of the world burns. The Lindbergh administration hatches a nice plan to prod assimilation of the Jews. Innocuously called Just Folks, it's a relocation program for urban Jews, administered by an Office of American Absorption fronted by an obliging and pompous rabbi of radio celebrity. The teenage Roth character is shipped off to a Kentucky tobacco farm, to finally live among Christians. The book is about American Fascism, but while Roth is no fan of President Bush ("a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one"), he points out that he conceived this book (LATimes registration: sparklebottom/sparklebottom) in December 2000, and that it would be "a mistake" to read it "as a roman à clef to the present moment in America." (more inside)
The Greatest War Protestor of All Time --Wise, hilarious, and kind words from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. If you don't know who he is, fake it.
"Hi. My name is Tony Kushner, I'm a playwright...Ladies and Gentlemen and Supporters of MoveOn: the first lady of the United States, Laura Welch Bush". About a year and a half ago Kushner, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of Angels in America, published the first act of a new play, Only We Who Guard The Mystery Shall Be Unhappy (full text). In it, Laura Bush reads Dostoyevsky to a classroom full of ghosts of dead Iraqi children. Now, (in Salon, I know, I know) the first lady metacriticizes Kushner's play. (more inside)
Michael, aged 25, was abducted by Lord's Resistance Army rebels in northern Uganda. His captors beat him on the head with rifle-butts when he was no longer able to carry their loot and left him for dead. Government soldiers found him a week later. "Termites had started eating me alive," he recalls. Michael's is one of many personal testimonies published in When the sun sets, we start to worry..., a book launched Thursday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in conjunction with its Integrated Regional Information Networks. Using personal accounts and powerful black-and-white photographs, When the sun sets, we start to worry... aims to draw attention to the plight of more than a million Ugandan men, women and children whose present existence encompasses a degree of misery and horror seldom seen elsewhere.
Books Go To War Between 1943 and 1947, the Council on Books in Wartime published 1322 small-format books (4 in. x 5.75 in. — designed to fit easily into the pockets of service uniforms) for distribution to United States service personnel. These books were unabridged volumes spanning a variety of topics: popular fiction, humor, classic literature, music, psychology, war stories, etc. Because the books were distributed only to overseas troops, and printed on cheap paper (intended to be read, passed around, and discarded), they've become hard-to-find, the subject of museum exhibits and, in the case of the rarer titles, the object of collectors' desire.
In the new LRB, a pretty good attempt to answer the pressing question - why do the Bush people want to attack Iraq so much?
"No glory in Unjust War on the Weak" Barbara Kingsolver offers a touching response to America's retaliatory acts on Afghanistan. She is famous for her best-selling novels The Posionwood Bible and The Bean Trees. Kingsolver starts off very defensive, wary that she will be ridiculed for her "idealist" or "anti-american" opinion, but she then offers some good reasons why. Very moving.