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<i>Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA</i>. By Amaryllis Fox. Knopf, 2020.240. HB, $26.95.

A Most Wanted Woman

March 2, 2020

 Despite President Trump’s fatuous protests about the “Deep State,” we seem to be in a similar place with respect to entertainment relating to the intelligence community, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in particular.

Making Sausages: Images of Governance

March 14, 2014

During recent snowbound days, I indulged in a bout of binging the second season of House of Cards, the celebrated political drama starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and a brilliantly cast supporting ensemble. Actually, I did the same binge with the [...]

A Gun and a Girl: The Case for Hard Case Crime

October 4, 2013

Any scan of the bestseller lists shows a national book culture awash in pulp. But all those hungry zombies, vengeful angels, vampire lovers, scrappy postapocalyptic teens, and fairy princess-warriors with wicked blades and toned physiques bear litt [...]

An Open Letter to Jonathan Franzen

September 20, 2013

  Jonathan Franzen at the 2011 Time 100 gala / by David Shankbone   Hi, Jonathan, I read your essay in the Guardian, and, I have to say, I’m worried about your professional legacy. I agree with some of what you had to say, disagre [...]

Thousands of Words: Galleries in Books

September 6, 2013

One wonders if pop culture's preoccupation with novelty, the dazzling shine of newness, its inescapable immediacy—mixed with an endless outpouring of images—has diminished the import of photographic art. In a visually top-heavy information stream [...]

Reading the Pictures: Graphic Novels

August 7, 2013

For my generation, comic books received a bad rap. Parents were convinced comics were a contributing factor to a great epidemic of juvenile delinquency and a concomitant claim that the readers of comics were, by definition, stupid. It was not until t [...]

The Beginning of the End for Native Americans

July 10, 2013

As part of the general tumult for social and economic justice that accompanied the late 1960s anti-war movement (which I covered, in part, earlier), there was heightened interest and awareness in the genocidal march of history that decimated the na [...]

Letter to a Future Great Gatsby Reader

May 29, 2013

Dear Old Sport, I'm writing to you in late May of 2013, and the world again has its attention on The Great Gatsby. A new film version (the seventh) opened early this month and has already grossed $115 million. The acclaimed theatre grou [...]

The Choice and Challenge of Being a Writer-Parent

May 24, 2013

  Poets & Writers (March/April 2013)   A recent issue of Poets & Writers features the married writing couple Victor LaValle and Emily Raboteau. “Books and Babies,” the magazine says on the cover. How do writers balance it [...]