December 24, 2013

For six years, the New York Times not only held the story of Robert Levinson, an American spy on a CIA mission who went missing in Iran in 2007, but also repeatedly described Levinson’s visit to the country in a manner which the paper’s editorial writers and news reporters knew to be false. Public editor Margaret Sullivan weighs in on the reasons why.

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, has died. Read more about him here: “In the final days of the Soviet Union, when the old icons were fast decaying and any future ones were frantically packing off to escape the ruins,” writes Andrew Meier in Bookforum, “the guardians of Russia’s past had few relics to showcase. One of the last heroes standing, a Stalin Prize winner and two-time Hero of Socialist Labor, was Mikhail Kalashnikov.”

A dire statistic for 2013: Book bannings are up 53 percent in school libraries across America, according to an anti-censorship group known as the Kids’ Right to Read Project. Among the most contested titles, reports The Guardian’s David Barnett, are Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

A former Italian senator and influential consigliere to former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi “has been caught up in one of the biggest book-theft scandals in history,” reports Rachel Donadio in the New York Times. Marcello Dell’Utri claims to have turned over to the authorities all but one of the allegedly stolen books—a rare edition of Thomas More’s Utopia, which he says is lost in storage.

Charles Ramsey, the reluctant hero who discovered and helped free the captives of Ariel Castro, is writing a book.

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