The last living prosecutor to assist in the Nuremberg trials, a set of military tribunals that brought Nazi leaders to justice, learned an important lesson from the work: “War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people.” Ben Ferencz told that to Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes,” which will air an interview with Ferencz this Sunday. His story is sure to be moving — “I’m still churning,” he told Stahl — as well as an important reminder about the difficulty and importance of retaining humanity under inhuman circumstances.
Nonfiction is the name of the book game this week, with three new interesting reads to check out. Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” is almost sold out on Amazon, and promises to be an essential, jarring look at the racism that continues to shape America. Chess legend and noted Russian dissident Garry Kasparov’s “Deep Thinking” begins as an account of his famous match-up with IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, then pivots into a consideration of the future of artificial intelligence — with a unique take on the matter. “Machines that replace physical labor have allowed us to focus more on what makes us human: our minds,” he writes in the introduction. And if you have the office of the presidency on the mind — and let’s face it, who doesn’t? — look to Alvin Felzenberger’s new biography “A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr.” Add one important article, for good measure: Spend some time with Ruth Margalit’s reporting on Israel’s Filipino workforce for The New York Times Magazine.
In New York City, make a trip to the theater for Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. If you can’t swing that, three other plays of note might be worth catching before they close: Sarah Ruhl’s “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage” at Lincoln Center Theatre, Arthur Miller’s “The Price” at Broadway’s American Airlines Theater, and Zayd Dohrn’s “The Profane” at Playwrights Horizons.
In Washington, D.C. spend Sunday afternoon at The Writer’s Center, where Michael Salcman will read from his collection “A Prague Spring, Before and After,” which touches on the Holocaust, which both his Salcman’s parents survived. That evening, take to the Bender JCC of Greater Washington for a program of Beethoven’s cello sonatas performed by Matt Haimovitz, accompanied by pianist Christopher O’Reilly.
In Chicago, escape to a different time with the stage adaptation of the beloved Tom Stoppard-penned film “Shakespeare in Love,” currently appearing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. If something more contemporary suits your mood, explore the offerings of the Evanston Literary Festival; its program this weekend include events with historical novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann and novelist Renee Rosen.
And in Los Angeles, start the weekend laughing Friday night at Hollywood Improv with a comedy program featuring Judd Apatow. Spend Saturday at an all-piano concert by Israeli musician Idan Raichel, then Sunday at a concert of jazz reinterpretations of Stephen Sondheim’s daunting repertoire; if that’s not quite enough music for you, make time for a performance of “Man of La Mancha” at Valley Performing Arts Center, featuring a book by Dale Wasserman.