From Vasily Grossman, “Life and Fate”

tr. Robert Chandler: Viktor's hat fell to the ground. People were probably looking at them."Yes, yes, we have no right," he repeated.He kissed her hands. As he held her small cold fingers, he felt that the unshakeable strength of her resolve went hand in hand with weakness, submissiveness, helplessness.... … [Read more...]

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“Sorry for (Communist) Partying”: I review “After the Revolution”

at AmCon: The engine which runs “After the Revolution,” a play by Amy Herzog that will show at Theater J (the theater of Washington’s Jewish Community Center) through October 6, is a generations-old betrayal: A fledgling leftist activist from a family of Communist Jews learns that her much-honored grandfather spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and then perjured himself in front of HUAC denying it.The revelation shatters Emma Joseph’s trust in her family and in her own righteo … [Read more...]

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“Crime History”: Ronald Reagan as Com-Symp, Then As Liberal

(then as farce? I kid, I kid): On this day, June 20, in 1958, FBI headquarters learned of actor Ronald Reagan’s desire to star in the film “The FBI Story,” but the bureau rejected the idea because of Reagan’s association with alleged Communist front organizations in the 1940s. more--and Reagan played a dashing Cold War liberal in real life, as recounted in Red Star Over Hollywood. My review of that book isn't online any longer, unfortunately, so I will just tell you a) it was really good, much … [Read more...]

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Dead Simple

Just finished watching The Devil's Backbone, a powerful film which may have left me unsatisfied because I was expecting it to be something it didn't want to be. The movie, by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), is set during the Spanish Civil War at an orphanage run by Communists. A young boy, Carlos, is brought to the orphanage. He's beset by the local bully, and also begins to see a ghost, "the one who whispers," a young boy like himself. The rest of the film plays out the mystery of the … [Read more...]

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“The Very Best of Strange Soviet Architecture”

The introductory paragraph seems calculated just to annoy me, but the actual photos are amazing. … [Read more...]

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“Shanghai revisits its forgotten Jewish past”

LA Times (via Ratty): ...During World War II, 20,000 European Jews fled to Shanghai, one of the few places in the world they could go without a visa, and one of the few that put no limit on the number of Jews it would accept. Under Japanese occupation, they were squeezed into one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, living cheek by jowl with working-class Chinese such as Wang."They were good friends. They lived together. They played together. They suffered together under the Japanese … [Read more...]

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“Pushkin Becomes a Little Girl’s Passport”

I review the children's book Letters from Rifka, at Acculturated. Thanks to NJMKW for suggesting it! … [Read more...]

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