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Jim Cullen


  • Originally published 08/01/2013

    Jim Cullen: Review of Christopher Clark's "The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914" (Harper, 2013)

    At one point early on in The Sleepwalkers, University of Cambridge Professor Christopher Clark cites a perception -- certainly one I had growing up -- of the First World War taking place on the far side of a historical divide. "It was easy to imagine the disaster of Europe's 'last summer' as an Edwardian costume drama," he writes, attributing this view to Barbara Tuchman books. "The effete rituals and gaudy uniforms, the 'ornamentalism' of a world still largely organized around hereditary monarchy had a distancing effect on present-day recollection. They seemed to signal that the protagonists were people from another, vanished world."

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Jim Cullen: Review of Mohsin Hamid's "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" (Riverhead, 2013)

    Jim Cullen, who teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, is a book review editor at HNN. His new book, Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions, was recently published by Oxford University Press. Cullen blogs at American History Now.How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia solidifies Mohsin Hamid's claim as a major contemporary novelist. It showcases what have become a familiar set of gifts, among them a compelling voice, a keen feel for structure, and, given his literary sensibility, a surprisingly efficient narrative drive. Like his two previous books, Moth Smoke (2000) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), this one is brief. And yet in the space of less than 230 small pages he renders an entire life that seems simultaneously rich in detail and resonant as a fable.

  • Originally published 02/25/2013

    Jim Cullen: How Six Oscar Winners Tell the Story of America

    Jim Cullen is chairman of the history department at the Fieldston School in New York and author of "Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions" (Oxford University Press). A box office is not a voting booth, but they have their similarities. Neither is entirely democratic in the ways it offers choices, and each is a little too deferential to market forces. But both tell stories about the state of the nation, produced by teams that are fronted by star performers.In politics, some of the most successful performers take on multiple roles. Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama: Their stories have offered versions of the country — where it had been, where it was headed. Some were stories of restoration, others of progress.In the Republic of Hollywood, it’s movie stars, not politicians, who rule. And in Hollywood, as in politics, one of the recurring themes is our national ambivalence about powerful institutions — religious, economic, military or political — and their influence over everyday life.

  • Originally published 02/25/2013

    Jim Cullen: With Lincoln, A New Frontier for Day-Lewis

    Jim Cullen is chairman of the history department at the Fieldston School in New York and author of "Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions" (Oxford University Press).(CNN) -- If, as many observers believe, Daniel-Day Lewis wins the Academy Award for best actor on Sunday, he will become the first man to win three (Meryl Streep has done this; Maggie Smith might match her if she wins for her turn in Quartet). Such an honor would ratify Day-Lewis' standing not simply as one of the greatest actors of his time, but for all time.Like Robert De Niro, Day-Lewis is seen as the quintessential method actor, a commitment he has taken to extremes in his well-known penchant for embodying his characters even when the cameras aren't rolling. Day-Lewis also is notable for the extraordinary breadth of roles he has played.He first came to global attention in 1985 when he appeared simultaneously as the priggish Cecil Vyse in the Merchant-Ivory film adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1907 novel "Room with a View" as well as Johnny, the gay East End punk, in Stephen Frears' brilliantly brash "My Beautiful Launderette."...

  • Originally published 02/25/2013

    Jim Cullen: Review of Lawrence R. Samuel's "The American Dream: A Cultural History" (Syracuse, 2012)

    Jim Cullen, who teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, is a book review editor at HNN. His new book, Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions, was published last month by Oxford University Press. Cullen blogs at American History Now.This is a useful book, a troubling book, and a book tells us something about the strange state of contemporary publishing. I’ll try and deal with each of these in turn.

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Jim Cullen: Review of David Shambaugh's "China Goes Global: The Partial Power" (Oxford, 2013)

    Jim Cullen, who teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, is a book review editor at HNN. His new book, Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions, has just been published by Oxford University Press. Cullen blogs at American History Now.Here's a book that has its title right -- a statement worth making because so many stretch or bend them for marketing purposes. And that's only the beginning of the elegant distillation George Washington University political scientist David Shambaugh provides in this useful volume, which offers a detailed yet concise portrait of a nation widely perceived as on the cusp of what the Chinese government often ascribes to its American rival: hegemony.

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