New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos joins us to discuss his book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China.
Here he explains the scale and speed of China’s growth in the last 30 years:
China’s transformation, its extraordinary economic growth, to put it in perspective, is one hundred times the scale and ten times the speed of the first industrial revolution, which transformed Britain. So in practical terms, what that feels like up close is that in 1978 for instance, your average Chinese person made about $200 a year and last year they made about $6,000 a year. In the most elemental ways, their lives are different. In the mid seventies compared to today, a person in china eats about six times as much meat as they did back then…Today forty percent of the skyscrapers under construction worldwide are in China.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Chinese military’s bloody crackdown on the student occupation of Tiananmen Square. Tuesday New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos talks about his years in China observing the contradictions in a society committed to economic growth, technical innovation and authoritarian rule. His new book is Age of Ambition.
Photo via Asian History
Today we spoke to journalist Dexter Filkins. His latest piece on Iraq in the New Yorker, What We Left Behind, explores “An increasingly authoritarian leader, a return of sectarian violence, and a nation worried for its future.” In the conversation Filkins explains how Iraq is “falling back into civil war:”
"I think I was there in February, just off the top of my head I think January there were a thousand civilians killed… A thousand in a month, that’s 30 people a day or so, that’s right up there, not with the bloodiest of months of the civil war when the Americans were there, but it’s pretty bloody. That’s mostly, almost entirely Shiite civilians being killed at the hands of Sunnis, but of course there are plenty of Sunnis being killed by the government, which is mostly Shiite.
The civil war that we are witnessing—that we witnessed when the Americans were there—is certainly a consequence of the invasion. Iraq is this deeply artificial country cobbled together after World War I, lines drawn in the sand really with very little regard for sect or tribe or nationality or anything. The country has been held together—and certainly when we invaded was being held together by this steel frame of a dictatorship overseen by Saddam Hussein and he was a terrible, awful human being but he held the country together in this ruthless way. When we broke that steel frame it all came apart and that’s what we’re witnessing.”
photo: Members of an Iraqi tribe protest military operation in Fallujah on January 7, 2014. via ny post
MONDAY: Our guest is Bob Mankoff, cartoonist, and long-time cartoon editor at The New Yorker. He has a new memoir called “How About Never—Is Never Good For You?” named after his most famous cartoon. We’ll talk about his life, editing other people’s cartoons, and creating his own.
Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer, broke his media silence in a series of interviews with Andrew Solomon. Tomorrow we talk with Solomon about what Peter Lanza told him.
Solomon’s article on the Lanza family is in the current New Yorker. It’s called The Reckoning: The father of the Sandy Hook killer searches for answers
photo of street artist Mark Panzarino via metro
Hendrick Hertzberg on the late Anthony Lewis:
Tony Lewis knew more about the Constitution and the laws, their history and meaning, than the vast majority of Supreme Court Justices, let alone lawyers. In 1956, James Reston, the Times’s legendary Washington bureau chief, had sent Lewis back to Cambridge for a year’s study at Harvard Law School on a Nieman fellowship. He learned well. Justice Felix Frankfurter would tell Reston that “there are not two Justices of this Court who have such a grasp of these cases.” And Lewis, unlike all but a few Justices, could write. He was occasionally cited in the Court’s opinions, but think of the ones he might have written himself!
We paid tribute to Lewis, covered the Supreme Court for the New York Times in the 1950s and ’60s, on the show today by listening back to an interview Terry did with him in 1991. He died yesterday.
Image of the Supreme Court by aabernathy
When twenty-one-year-old Tony, the working-class would-be jockey turned taxi-driver, declares to Apted, “All I understand is dogs, prices, girls, knowledge, roads, streets, squares, mum and dad, and love. That’s all I understand; that’s all I want to understand,” it doesn’t just sound a bit like Keats; it makes as much sense, in its own way.
By sending a video, I felt that I could encapsulate more of the emotions I was feeling. I tried to write out something to send to them. I probably made 25 drafts and deleted them all. It just seemed so odd to put on paper. I just didn’t know what to say really, and every time I would read what I just wrote, I thought that it sounded like something I would hate to read if I was them. So eventually I tried to video myself in hopes that it would better show them what I was feeling … I introduced myself. I told them of the night that we met, and I told them I was sorry and that I had to speak to them if I could. I told them that they lived so close to me that I had to reach out. It was just too odd to me not to say hello and not to find out how they were doing, to see if I could help them really. I wanted to know if there was something I could do to make their life easier.
By sending a video, I felt that I could encapsulate more of the emotions I was feeling. I tried to write out something to send to them. I probably made 25 drafts and deleted them all. It just seemed so odd to put on paper. I just didn’t know what to say really, and every time I would read what I just wrote, I thought that it sounded like something I would hate to read if I was them. So eventually I tried to video myself in hopes that it would better show them what I was feeling …
I introduced myself. I told them of the night that we met, and I told them I was sorry and that I had to speak to them if I could. I told them that they lived so close to me that I had to reach out. It was just too odd to me not to say hello and not to find out how they were doing, to see if I could help them really. I wanted to know if there was something I could do to make their life easier.
If you look at the two largest Super PACs on the Romney side, they have raised $122 million. By July they had, anyway. And in contrast, the two largest supporting Super PACs that are supporting Obama have raised only $30 million by that period, so it’s a very big differential. But it doesn’t begin to explain how much of a gap there is in money. There’s an even bigger gap in other kinds of outside groups that are not Super PACs — there are nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors and there the differential is just overwhelming. Obama is being completely out-raised in these secret donations which are piling in for Romney at this point.
The New Yorker this week is publishing a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Thank You for the Light,” that it rejected three-quarters of a century ago.
“‘Thank You for the Light,’ which Fitzgerald’s grandchildren discovered while going through his papers, is just a vignette — only a page long — almost fable-like, and written in a pared-down style that, at the end especially, seems more Hemingway than Fitzgerald,” says the NYT.
Wow, definitely want to read this!
The greatest failure is that we haven’t really built a state that holds the country together. There is a state. It’s a very flimsy, ramshackle, corrupt thing and most people recognize it and see it as such. And I guess the big question we all face, as the Americans and the rest of NATO draws down is: Is this ramshackle, hodgepodge thing that we’ve built called the Afghan state – is it going to hold together? Is it going to stand on its own when we leave? Boy, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’d put my money on that or for how long. That’s a very risky proposition.
— The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins, on the future of Afghanistan
Through his many New Yorker covers, Barry Blitt has become one of the preeminent satirical cartoonists of America’s recent presidents. He’s probably best known for his controversial 2008 cover of Michelle and Barack Obama, dressed as a Muslim and a militant with an AK-47, fist-bumping in the Oval Office.
Now Blitt has trained his eye and pen on the nation’s first president; he’s illustrated a new children’s book called George Washington’s Birthday. The book, written by Margaret McNamara, follows young George about his normal day: chopping down a cherry tree, fording a creek — and worrying that his family has forgotten his 7th birthday.