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Writing Worth Reading

How The Strand Keeps Going In The Age Of Amazon

New York’s greatest used bookstore is really “a real-estate business, fronted by a bookstore, subsidised by its own below-market lease and the office tenants upstairs”. The Bass family, which founded The Strand in 1927, bought the whole 12-storey building on Broadway in 1996. The Strand turns a modest profit helped by review copies bought from “broke editorial assistants” at one-quarter of cover price and sold as new (2,150 words)

The Unfairness Of Families

Interview with philosopher Adam Swift about family values and inequality. Should we restrict the things that parents can do for their children, in the interests of fairness? “The mechanisms that create the unfairnesses between children are mechanisms that go pretty much to the heart of family life … Informal interactions like the reading of bedtime stories are the ones that generate the real inequalities” (2,480 words)

The Great War And The Twentieth Century

Highly perceptive short review of David Reynolds’s Long Shadow, arguing that the First World War was a war of choice for Britain; that British reaction to the First World War led, through appeasement, to the Second World War; and that this history of mass slaughter on the Continent turned Britain against further European involvement, even when the project assumed the peaceful shape of the European Union (740 words)

Bollywood’s Window On To India

To understand India better, watch more films. Bollywood knows and nurtures the changing national mood. Serialisations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata in the 1980s “awakened a global Hindu identity” built around “family, food, religion and nationalism”. The popular films of the moment show how “Indian values heal the pain and confusion of wealthy but uprooted Hindus”, particularly in the United States (720 words)

The Primacy Of Foreign Policy Pick of the day

Peace has been “an occasional luxury and never a guarantee” down human history. For the past seven decades we have been lucky enough to enjoy relative peace in the West — the “pax Americana”. But this has lulled us into a false sense of security. We may be living in a “peace bubble”, the collapse of which could ruin us all. “The single most important thing we can do to boost long-run American growth is to get foreign policy right”

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