Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Studies have shown that our world is becoming less religious and that more people no longer believe in God. Your Dec. 24 issue reviewed books concerning various aspects of religion, but there was no representation of the shift toward a secular society. Atheists have little faith in the supernatural, but we would hate to think our faith in The New York Times is in peril.



To the Editor:

Jeff Shesol’s review of “Playing With Fire,” by Lawrence O’Donnell (Jan. 7), speculates that Senator Eugene McCarthy’s quest for the 1968 presidential nomination may have prolonged the conflict in Vietnam by widening divisions in the Democratic Party and thereby helped elect Richard Nixon, who escalated the American military intervention in Southeast Asia. While accurate about Nixon’s escalation strategy, Shesol overlooks or ignores the fact that the vice president and Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, had supported military escalation in Vietnam for years and thus in all likelihood would have prolonged the war as well. One of the reasons Humphrey’s presidential campaign faltered was that young voters did not trust him on the war issue.


Holiday Handel

To the Editor:

Readers of Leon Botstein’s review of Jonathan Keates’s “Messiah” (Dec. 24) should know that Handel doesn’t need to be appreciated only on Christmas or Easter. “See the Conquering Hero,” from his oratorio “Judas Maccabaeus,” is now a Hanukkah song for children called “Hava Narima.” It sounds great in Hebrew.


Listening to Gibbon

To the Editor:

Daniel Mendelsohn (By the Book, Jan. 7) is kidding himself if he thinks he’s getting the whole enchantment of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by listening to it on tape. If, as I suspect, it doesn’t include the footnotes, he’s missing out on some of the wittiest and most malicious delights of Gibbon’s book.

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