An Affirming Flame: Meditations on Life and Politics

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Over many peripatetic years, Roger Cohen has lived in a succession of countries, compiling New York Times columns from 2010 to the brink of the 2020 election. Born in South Africa, his columns have commanded attention interpreting wars, political upheavals, and further significant themes of today’s America. His opinions are shared admiringly or reviled. An Affirming Flame is prefaced by an introduction brimming with names and quotations from multiple writers, past and present.

In over a hundred selected columns, Cohen’s one-off topics, personal and closer to home in spirit, tend to crack the professional carapace, showing his sensitivity and compassion. Personal choices resonate. Among several outstanding ones, in an early column he describes traveling to meet an elderly Polish man who rescued and hid an eleven-year-old child from the Nazis. Cohen reveals that the “child” survived and decades later became his mother-in-law. Several are even more memorable than his dexterous political rants: he memorializes a beloved uncle who passed away at ninety-four, offers a lyrical memory of his years in Paris.

Cohen, an inveterate journalist, is only occasionally mellow and cannot resist suggesting scathingly how “Argentina is a unique case, a country that has completed the transition to underdevelopment.”

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 464 pages
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publish Date 21-Feb-2023
ISBN 9780593321522 Buy this Book
Issue June 2023
Category Current Events & Politics