A list of English-language books from Osama bin Laden’s private library in his compound in Pakistan has just been declassified. Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward is on it, as is Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. Foreign Policy notes that on this evidence bin Laden appears to have been a Francophile (“Among the materials acquired in the 2011 raid were the 245-page clunker Economic and Social Conditions in France during the 18th Century”), while Politico asks several of the authors on the list to imagine what he might have got out of reading their books.
Several outlets have had to retract stories based on research, published in the academic journal Science, which now appears to have been elaborately faked by one of its authors (the other, Columbia political scientist Donald Green, appears mystified: “All that effort that went in to confecting the data,” he told This American Life, “you could’ve gotten the data”).
Large chunks of an unfinished autobiography by Orson Welles have been discovered by University of Michigan archivists among papers recently bought from Welles’s last partner, Oja Kodar. He’d apparently been working on “Confessions of a One-Man Band” since the 1970s, but it’s not yet clear if what’s there is complete enough to publish.
As Janet Maslin steps back a bit as book critic for the New York Times (“I’ve been a full-time critic since 1977,” she told Capital, “which is why the announcement uses ‘grueling,’ ‘grind,’ and ‘frantic’ in its first few lines”), the Observer speculates about possible replacements: the longish list includes several Bookforum contributors and ends with movie critic A.O. Scott, who “must be a little tired of spending his days in screening rooms staring at subpar films.”
And the New York Times magazine profiles a tap-dancing Judy Blume, who still gets 1,000 letters a month from her mostly young readers, and after 17 years is about to bring out a new book for adults. “It’s because of what I represent,” she says to fans who feel overwhelmed at meeting her. “I’m your childhood.”
There’s one day left to bid on First Ark Edition, a handmade “book object” with two removable spines, which comprises Paul Auster’s “Alone,” a previously unpublished short novel from 1969 that’s thought to be his earliest work, and “Becoming the Other in Translation”, an accompanying essay by Siri Hustvedt. The authors had donated both texts to the tiny independent bookstore Ark Books in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.