Some Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

Today, while walking past the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street in New York, I observed four policemen with submachine guns; several other patrolmen; a patrol car; and a police dog. Unless there's some specific threat I don't know about, this strikes me as a bit of an overreaction to what happened in Paris last week. Forgive me for saying what I believe: it amounts to feeding and encouraging paranoia, at the taxpayers' expense.

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And for What? Reflections on the First World War

The centennial of the outbreak of World War I, which began a century ago this month, has excited the usual sort of checkbox-ticking media comment. Here’s some further perspective: more than 15 million people died in the conflict, including some 8.5 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. Millions of widows, orphans and single women were left behind.

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Chasing My Father

Lately I’ve been chasing my father all over Hell – figuratively speaking. I don’t expect to catch him; he died seven years ago, taking with him some secrets I wish I could have asked him about, and others that I know I couldn’t have. He left behind some intriguing clues about himself, but remained something of a mystery to the end.

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A Day to Remember

The day began for me in the oddest of ways. As is my habit, I worked late into the night of Monday Sept. 10th 2001, writing in my study, and slept in the morning of the 11th. At exactly 10 a.m. I was awoken by the doorbell, and suddenly remembered the appointment I had with some sound engineers. So I hurriedly dressed and rushed to the front door. I opened the door to a bright, perfect-looking day, but it struck me as odd that one of the two men had some blood on his face and shirt.  

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A Civil War Journey

I recently returned from a four-day road-trip (with my nephew Noah and his parents, traveling separately) to some of the Civil War battlefields. It’s a pilgrimage I’ve made more than once over the years, a way of embracing both nature and history. (Those blood-drenched meadows look terrific in the spring.) Done right, it can almost feel like time-travel.

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