1979

  There’s a list of books I mean to write, and this one is somehow on it, even though I couldn’t bear to write it, let alone research it. It would be about how in one year three of the world’s worst tyrants – literal madmen – lost their jobs. In Equatorial Guinea, Macías Nguema […]

What Happened?

  Factually, if you had told any of us who worked with President Clinton as he prepared for his first summit with Boris Yeltsin in 1993 where the Russian economy, Russia’s government, and Russian relations with the United States were going to be in 2017, we would have been appalled. – Larry Summers   I […]

Pretty Little Liars

  When deep night fell, the fishermen paddled out and we watched the horizon slowly fill with little orange lights, kerosene lamps swinging from the bows of their boats. It soon looked like a whole city out there, or like a constellation of stars that had fallen lightly on the surface of the water. It […]

Triumphal Return

With the Patriots back in the Super Bowl, my thoughts naturally turn to Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled Togo for thirty-eight years.* On the very day of Super Bowl XLII, you see, when the Patriots played some other team, I purchased this book.** It’s a heck of a tale. A young farm boy impresses all, not […]

Phantom Power

  Valentine Strasser seized power in Sierra Leone when he was twenty-five years old. At that age I ruled nowhere, perhaps because I was busy listening to Super Furry Animals’ Radiator. Its track “Placid Casual” discusses the coup: Freetown rocked in Sierra Leone / When Valentine Strasser danced his way to the throne / Gunpowder […]

Soft Landing

“I live on an air force base. I know what I’m talking about. If a plane manages to avoid radar detection up to its landing, it could land and come to a quiet halt at the end of a runway without anybody noticing.” -Major Ido Embar, Israeli Air Force When I first started living near […]

L’Esprit de l’Escalier

If you asked a 22-year-old American about gun control in this country, she would probably tell you that it’s a lot more complicated than taking some workshops on social entrepreneurship and starting a non-profit. She might tell her counterpart from Kampala about the intractable nature of our legislative branch, the long history of gun culture […]

Game On

  The recent drop in temperature recalled to mind a reality TV show I once invented: Cold Enough for Ya?! Premise: The host, who should be suitably disagreeable, drives around in a luxury automobile on a frigid winter day. Upon spotting someone waiting at a bus stop, trudging down an icy sidewalk, or performing manual labor, he […]