Here are some things worth reading. Richard Dawkins is interviewed in The Times about a forthcoming television programme he's made about Darwin. He is very good at conveying the scale, excitement and beauty of Darwin's intellectual achievement. I have problems with Dawkins when, like so many public intellectuals, he imagines his political opinions are of such depth that they merit being aired in public (see this article, half-way down, and the problem will immediately be apparent). But as an advocate of science and its methods against irrationalism he is a public resource.
My colleague Bronwen Maddox writes in the Wall Street Journal about European attitudes to America. She says:
The question is whether, in gratitude that the next U.S. president is not George W. Bush, America's critics will forgive him for decisions that are in the U.S.'s interests and not their own, or whether they will be disappointed and angry, expecting a radical transformation that was never going to happen, whichever candidate wins. In the new mood of worry, about the economy, as well as security, I'd bet on the first: that the America-bashing of the past two decades will seem like a luxury best now discarded.
I hope her wager is right, and I suspect it is. Anti-Americanism is not deep-rooted in the European psyche; it's merely a constant recycled piece of fabric in the reactionary and nativist elements of European left and right. It won't be affected by anything the US president does, because for these intellectual currents anything the US president does is, ex hypothesi, wrong.
One of my regular correspondents, the military historian D.M. Giangreco, has an interesting article on History News Network entitled "Was Dwindling US Army Manpower a Factor in the Atom Bombing of Hiroshima?" It's a valuable corrective to the notion, so common among anti-nuclear campaigners though which ought to be irrelevant to their case, that estimates of huge casualties in the event of a conventional invasion of Japan in 1945 were a postwar invention to justify President Truman's A-bomb decision. Dennis concludes:
[F]or many years, various individuals critical of Truman's bomb decision regularly maintained that estimates of massive casualties during an invasion of Japan were a post-war creation, and when the copious documentation that they were wrong began to come to light a decade ago, then switched to the line that the estimates must certainly have been developed and seen only by "lowly subordinates" when, in fact, far from being considered by obscure officers tucked away in the recesses of the Pentagon, this vital--and highly secret--matter was being examined by some of the finest minds this country has produced from Henry Stimson to Michael DeBakey. Moreover, Truman had not simply seen the genuinely huge numbers, but reacted decisively to them by calling the June 18, 1945, White House meeting in which the invasion of Japan was given the go-ahead in spite of their frightful dimensions.