History in the first person: The BBC's spectacular, daily Witness podcast interviews people who were there at great historical moments and has them tell their stories in ten minutes. A recent favorite: Nureyev defects to the West. (BBC)
Body worship in the Third Reich: Der Spiegel investigates a Nazi bestseller, entirely devoted to nude photography: "We want a strong and joyful affirmation of body awareness, because we need it to build a strong and self-confident race." (Der Spiegel)
Paul Krugman picks five books, starting with Isaac Asimov's Foundation: "The story is about these people, psychohistorians, who are mathematical social scientists and have a theory about how society works.... I was probably 16 when I read it and I thought, 'I want to be one of those guys!'” (So did I!) (Five Books)
Ezra Klein on what Inside Job got wrong: "Watching it, you’d think that the only people who missed the meltdown were corrupt fools, and the way to spot the next one is to have fewer corrupt fools. But that’s not true. Worse, it’s dangerously untrue." (The Washington Post)
What's Poetry Magazine doing with that $200 million gift? "'Poetry is not a moneymaker... And so the grand experiment here was to throw money into this art form that had no history of making money and see if poetry would be OK at the end of the day.' For years, what had been playing out at the foundation and magazine sounded like a multi-act play about the consequences of winning the lottery." (Chicago Tribune)
The Civil War and the Meaning of Life: By Drew Faust, historian-president of Harvard. "The seductiveness of war derives in part from its location on [the] boundary of the human, the inhuman, and the superhuman. It requires us to confront the relationship among the noble, the horrible, and the infinite; the animal, the spiritual, and the divine." (The New Republic)
[Image: Rudolf Nureyev.]
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.