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Murray Polner


  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Murray Polner: “Where Were You Last Night at 7? Speak Up!”

    Murray Polner is a regular book reviewer for the History News Network. His column “Keeping Score” appears here fairly regularly.I always loved that great New Yorker cartoon, which has a President ordering his assistant, “Leak to the press that my Administration won’t stand for any more leaks.”How relevant. As our Big Media endlessly reports on the sheriff and his posse’s relentless pursuit of Edward Snowden, and while Pfc. Bradley Manning sits in a military court awaiting a probable guilty verdict, he and Snowden may, sadly, prove to be small fry in the long run, forgotten as the years pass as they languish in a federal prison.Now, with no thanks to Big Media and TV’s sycophantic network news programs, the Obama Administration has something new and more odious to offer—its Insider Threat Program, which the President signed into law in October 2011 and, I believe, was first revealed in depth last June by the McClatchy Newspapers’ Marisa Taylor and the intrepid Jonathan Landay’s “Obama’s Plan to Crack Down on Whistleblowers Leaked.” Widely overlooked except by the leftist Nation, Truth-out and a handful of bloggers, what Taylor and Landay reported was, to put it conservatively, potentially “game changing.”

  • Originally published 06/17/2013

    Murray Polner: Review of Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman's "FDR and the Jews" (Belknap, 2013)

    Years after World War II ended I often visited Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, nicknamed the “Fourth Reich” because of its large number of Central European Jews who had escaped the Nazis, the Kissinger family among them. Whether they were eligible to vote or not, they overwhelmingly supported FDR, grateful for having been welcomed into the country. Nearby, a goodly number of them lived on the Upper West Side, all well-served by German-Jewish cultural and social societies and Aufbau, a literate, once-thriving German language Jewish newspaper.

  • Originally published 06/08/2013

    Murray Polner: Review of Kenneth T. MacLeish’s "Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community" (Princeton, 2013)

    Fort Hood, in Texas, is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood, who lost his arm and leg at Gettysburg and Chickamauga but was defeated at Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. It employs 50,000 troops and civilian employees and is close by the city of Killeen, population 130,000, and which, like most military satellite cities and towns, thrives because of its location, selling food, goods of all sorts, housing, and loans, some no doubt predatory. In fact, as Kenneth T. MacLeish writes, Killeen is “more prosperous than Austin, the state capital, home to a large university and a booming tech sector.” 

  • Originally published 02/19/2013

    Murray Polner: Review of Sam Roberts's "Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America" (Grand Central Publishing, 2013)

    Murray Polner is a regular book reviewer for HNN.Compared to shabby and uninspiring Penn Station, Manhattan’s other train station on the west side of Manhattan, the latest version of Grand Central Terminal in chic East Midtown Manhattan, which includes Madison and Park Avenues and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, is a stunning work of architectural genius. New York Times reporter Sam Roberts’s Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America is beautifully illustrated with a very readable text, an appropriate acknowledgment of the hundredth anniversary of the station’s past and present.

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Murray Polner: Only Part of the Story: The Smearing of Chuck Hagel

    Murray Polner was editor of Present Tense, a liberal Jewish magazine published for 17 years by the American Jewish Committee. He has written and edited four books on Jewish life.“Israel Vows To Use Veto Power If Chuck Hagel Confirmed As U.S. Secretary of Defense.” –the Onion, Jan. 8, 2013.The above headline was a typical Onion gag but like so many of its sarcastic pieces it contained a measure of truth.

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Murray Polner: Review of Paul and Karen Avrich’s "Sasha and Emma: The Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman" (Harvard, 2012)

    Murray Polner is a regular book reviewer for HNN.Years ago Paul Avrich, my high school classmate and later a colleague in a college where he was a professor and I an adjunct, invited me to spend an evening with an aging group of Jewish anarchists. At the gathering a woman told me that other than Eleanor Roosevelt, the country’s most remarkable woman had been Emma Goldman. Ahrne Thorne agreed. He was the last editor of the anarchist “Freie Arbeiter Shtimme” (Free Worker’s Voice, it was closed in 1977 after 87 years of publication when it had 1,700 subscribers). He said he had met Alexander Berkman and knew Emma Goldman well. It was hard for me to imagine these elderly men and women as threats to the Republic. They were also despised by Communists because anarchists had the temerity to reject their Soviet paradise.

  • Originally published 12/16/2014

    Who Knows Eric Fair?

    The recent revelation about  unaccountable Americans using torture on prisoners have again raised the question of morality and legality.

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