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Carla Cohen, of Politics & Prose, Dies

A pillar of Washington, D.C., intellectual life

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Carla Cohen.(WP)

Carla Cohen, the co-founder of the one-of-a-kind bookstore Politics & Prose, died yesterday at 74 from a rare bile-duct cancer. The superb Washington Post obituary paints her as the heart to co-founder Barbara Meade’s head (it also briefly details her life, which began in a six-child Jewish family in Baltimore). My favorite anecdote is when Cohen—politically left, to be sure, but open to thoughtful debate—nixes a coveted bookstore reading by Matt Drudge. “It’s not a question of left or right, conservative or liberal. It’s a question of sleaze versus careful, thoughtful reporting,” she said at the time. “I think he’s a rumormonger and a troublemaker, and I think he’s more interested in self-promotion than in journalism.”

Andrew Silow-Carroll, who got to know Cohen and her husband, David (who survives her, as do her 100-year-old mother and two children), while editing Washington Jewish Week, has further reminiscence. He notes that the two were to be awarded the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award from Jews United for Justice this month; David used to work at Americans for Peace Now.

And Michael Schaffer, the editor of Washington City Paper, observes of whoever ends up buying Politics & Prose (which may be a group that includes Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg), “the largest chunk of their investment in the store will not come because its inventory is that large or its Connecticut Avenue storefront is that appealing. It’ll involve buying access to the network of loyal customers Cohen and Meade painstakingly developed.”

As a fiercely proud member of that network, I’ll let my earlier words speak for themselves.

Carla Cohen Dies; Co-founder of D.C. Bookstore Politics & Prose [WP]
Carla Cohen, Washington Bookseller [JustASC]
Carla Cohen R.I.P. [City Paper]
Earlier: Reflections on a Book Paradise

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M. Brukhes says:

I regret never having the chance to meet Carla in person, despite receiving a lovely invitation to do so; she and I became pen pals while participating on the “Jews for Obama” e-mail list. She was one of the most articulate, kindest, and most committed activists on the list, and getting to know her on-line was one of many joys of becoming involved in the group. I hope her whole family can take some measure of comfort in the outpouring of love that this sad news has inspired, and I hope the rest of us can take her memory–and her example–for a blessing.

Mark S. Devenow says:

It is a mark of our times that a nonentity – a palpably self-loathing Jew who was in the ‘Jews for (Hussein) Obama” at that – is lionized in a publication like Tablet for being merely a courtier and host to what amounts to a commercial salon. What a disgrace it is that the always fulsome self-celebratory instincts of Jewish liberals within their preferred press and internet organs have come to this!

Mr. Devenow,

You should be ashamed of yourself for using a tribute to someone who passed away as an opportunity to foam at the mouth with your own politics. Whatever you think of Ms. Cohen — and virtually everyone would agree that she contributed immensely to intellectual life in DC — it is inappropriate to condemn her as you did. Not to mention your disrespect for our president. Learn some manners.

May Ms. Cohen’s family find comfort in the wonderful memories they have of her, and in the pleasure and challenge she brought to so many of us.

Thank you TR for your response. What a shameful and nasty post. To refer to someone as a”nonentity”, reflects a totalitarian mindset that turns human beings they disagree with into non-persons. Politics and Prose embodied a respect for ideas and interchange. May Carla Cohen’s memory be for a blessing.

I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it.I have you saved to check out new stuff you article.

Who does too much, often does little. – Italian Proverb


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Carla Cohen, of Politics & Prose, Dies

A pillar of Washington, D.C., intellectual life

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