* The Guardian
profiles Roald Dahl
and The New Yorker's David Remnick
* In American Scientist
, Kim Sterelny reviews Daniel Dennett's religion book
and concludes regardless of the book's virtues that "his cultural project is doomed."
* Meanwhile, Mark Engler in Salon says nonviolence sucks
. I feel like killing him for saying that.
George Orwell was never much for pacifists. He wrote of his nonviolent political adversaries during World War II: If they "imagine that one can somehow 'overcome' the German army by lying on one's back, let them go on imagining it, but let them also wonder occasionally whether this is not an illusion due to security, too much money and a simple ignorance of the way in which things actually happen." To Mohandas Gandhi, his Indian contemporary and fellow anti-imperialist, he accorded only a grudging and critical respect. Yet because he viewed many pacifists as specialists in evading unpleasant truths, Orwell did admire Gandhi's unflinching honesty with regard to the Holocaust: When asked about resistance to the Nazis, Gandhi argued that the Jews should have prepared en masse to sacrifice their lives in nonviolence -- something Orwell regarded as "collective suicide" -- in order to "[arouse] the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence."
No doubt Orwell would have been skeptical of the contentions advanced by author Mark Kurlansky in his new primer, "Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons From the History of a Dangerous Idea." Compared with the standard histories offered in American public education, these arguments can safely be described as contrarian: "The case can be made that it was not the American Revolution that secured independence from Britain," Kurlansky writes; "it was not the Civil War that freed the slaves; and World War II did not save the Jews."