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Recommended: An Interview With Michel Houellebecq

The January 2, 2015, edition of The Paris Review published an interview with French writer Michel Houellebecq, whose sixth novel, “Soumission (Submission)” has generate considerable debate in literary an political circles in France. I found the give-and-take between Houellebecq and interviewer Sylvain Bourmeau, “a producer at France Culture and an associate professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris,” fascinating.

The article was translated from French by Lorin Stein, according to Paris Review.

To read the interview, see “Scare Tactics: Michel Houellebecq Defends His Controversial New Book.”

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Peter Galbraith: President Obama Has the ‘Luxury of Being Pragmatic…’

Peter W. Galbraith, United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and former U.S. ambassador to Croatia, offers an assessment of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy initiatives in an interview with foreign affairs columnist and global educator John C. Bersia. See “Commentary: Former ambassador Peter Galbraith on Obama's foreign policy.”

Mr. Galbraith is author of "The End of Iraq and Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America's Enemies.”

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‘Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent’

Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist Eduardo Hughes Galeano’s book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, which President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela gave to U.S. President Barack Obama as a gesture of friendship and a history lesson during the Summit of the Americas, is no longer obscure. According to some reports it is becoming a best seller.

Mr. Obama has been criticized in some quarters for taking the book, and for being cordial to Mr. Chavez. He told journalist April 19, 2009: "I thought it was a nice gesture to give me that book. I'm a reader."

Because of Mr. Obama’s gesture, Venezuela has decided to return its ambassador to Washington.

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‘Team of Rivals’ is a Fascinating Book

USA Today notes in a December 17, 2008, Book Buzz post: “In spring 2007, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin got a call from presidential candidate Barack Obama wanting to discuss her 2005 book Team of Rivals, about Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet. Today, Team of Rivals has become shorthand for Obama's own administration, particularly after he named Hillary Clinton secretary of State,” contends Book Buzz.

I’m currently reading the book and find it fascinating. The passion and personalities of Abraham Lincoln, Salmon P. Chase, William Henry Seward and Edward Bates – rivals for the U.S. presidency in the 1860 election -- come through in Team of Rivals as if I were watching them discuss politics during a debate.  That’s just how good Ms. Kearns is as writer. She truly knows how to paint a vivid portrait with words.

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