Much of "Unfair to Genius" chronicles the battles royal over rights between songwriters, publishers and the new technologies of records, radio and film. Lyricist Lorenz Hart sneered that Ascap's archrival, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), stood for "Bad Music Instead." In the late 1950s, crooner Rudy Vallée castigated Judge Learned Hand and his 1940 ruling in favor of radio broadcasters for spawning rock 'n' roll and "the cacophony that floods the air waves." Today the devastation of the music industry by the equally if not even more disruptive technology of the Internet makes these battles of more than merely historical interest.Read on here.
Several reviews this week take up books on American presidents: The Wall Street Journal also has a review of Charles R. Kesler's I am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism (Broadside). As Fred Siegel explains: "Mr. Kesler traces Progressive thought to its first flowering, with Woodrow Wilson as its emblematic proponent, and then forward to its second and third "waves," in FDR's New Deal of the 1930s and LBJ's Great Society of the 1960s. Mr. Obama, in this outline of history, is the leader of Progressivism's 'fourth wave.'"
And in the Washington Post, you'll find Jeffrey Rosen's review of Jeffrey Toobin's The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court (Doubleday)
The WSJ also has Michael Burlingame's review of Walter Stahr's Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man (Simon & Schuster) about Lincoln's secretary of state. Burlingame writes:
Many shared Seward's belief that the Republicans should have nominated him rather than Lincoln for president in 1860. Seward (1801-72) had been a leading senator for over a decade and a fearless champion of the anti-slavery cause. If the delegates to the 1860 convention had wished to reward the man who had done the most for the party, they would have picked Seward. But they were more eager to choose a winner than to express gratitude, so they nominated Lincoln.In TNR: The Book Michael Signer reviews Robert W. Merry's Where they Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians (Simon & Schuster).
On gender this week: The New York Times (here), the Washington Post (here), and NPR (here) all have reviews of Hanna Rosin's The End of Men and the Rise of Women (Riverhead Books). In the LA Times, Carolyn Kellogg takes up Rosin's book along with Naomi Wolf's Vagina: A New Biography (Ecco), which is also reviewed in The New York Times and is the subject of an essay by Ariel Levy in The New Yorker (for subscribers)
Other reviews of interest this week: You'll find reviews of Dave Tomar's The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat (Bloomsbury) in TNR: The Book (here) and the Washington Post (here). WSJ also has a review of Robert D. Kaplan's The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells use About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate (Random House), and a review of Melanie Kirkpatrick's Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad (Encounter), and a review of Mark Beech's When Saturday Mattered Most: The Last Golden Season of Army Football (St. Marten's) and Joe Drape's Soldiers First: Duty, Honor, Country, and Football at West Point (Times Books).