Chronicles Magazine REVIEWS

Remembering the Right

The featured theme of this month’s magazine is focused on a particular task, namely retrieving conservativism and conservative thinkers from the past and explaining their continued relevance to the present. The current conservative movement, as a...

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    Chansons by the Bayou

    Louisiana being the jazz capital of the United States (and the world, for that matter), one easily forgets the other contributions she has made to American culture. Then one remembers Louisiana is Walker Percy’s adopted home and the setting of...

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    To Regulate, or Not to Regulate?

    One vocal U.S. political tribe argues vociferously that capitalism is the source of all economic problems. Another tends to ignore that the current economy is not working for all Americans. French economist Thomas Philippon’s work should interest...

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    Think of the Children

    It seems things don’t change much after all. Consider these recent hysterical comments. “There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 30. “And it does lead, I...

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    A City-State on a Hill

    Mark Peterson’s new book traces the development of Boston from its founding in 1630 to the end of the American Civil War. In large part the book is a biography of the city, but from the unique perspective of Boston as a city-state and a...

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    The War for America

    In many ways the American Revolution was unavoidable. Given the struggle to control the resources and riches of these British colonies, armed conflict was an eventuality that could have been foreseen with a little imagination. Britain’s North...

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    Ritual, Tragedy, and Restoration

    The Deer Hunter received the Academy Award for best picture at the Oscars ceremony in 1979. The film was much criticized by some for its Russian roulette sequences, especially the alleged “racism” on display in the film’s depiction of the Viet...

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    The Conservative of Convenience

    In a Washington Post review of George F. Will’s The Conservative Sensibility, Catholic political thinker Patrick Deneen offers the following observation: This book is not so much a brief for conservatism as it is a learned and lengthy...

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    The Perpetual Club

    Such were the deep currents of literary life in 18th-century England that a group of friends meeting weekly in a London tavern included men as monumental as Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and Edward Gibbon. Even those members who are...

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    Two Faces of Modern Catholicism

    Much has been written about the modernization of the Catholic Church—especially the crucial years from 1870 to 1970. These histories have been written from a number of perspectives, each with different definitions of modernity. James Chappel,...

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    Books in Brief

    From Fire, by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith, by Sohrab Ahmari (San Francisco: Ignatius Press; 240 pp., $22.95). Sohrab Ahmari: Iranian immigrant, Roman Catholic convert, conservative, New York Post editor, and...

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    Spying on the American Remnant

    As a boy, your author lived in a working-class neighborhood just outside Houston’s city limits. My parents were the children of rural people who had come to Houston looking for work during the Great Depression. They lived in frame houses sitting...

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    The War of Nihilisms

    The first English translation of Ernst Jünger’s journals from the Second World War is a cause for celebration. The journals were like treasures stashed away in an old castle, behind a door that could be unlocked only if one learned to read...

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    The Other Road to Serfdom

    The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been criticized since its founding in 1995. Leftists claim that free trade places the Third World at a disadvantage, while President Donald Trump and paleo conservatives argue that some WTO policies threaten...

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    Faithful Son

    Boyd Cathey is an 11th generation Carolina Tar Heel who was mentored by and worked with Russell Kirk. The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage is written reverentially, just as one might reflect on the memory of one’s mother.

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    Books In Brief

    The French dislike what they call “Anglo-American economics” even more than they dislike English and American cookery; also, more recently, progressive Anglo-American views regarding the supposed identicality between the sexes.

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    No Justice, No Peace

    There is no pleasing Duke University law professor Brandon L. Garrett, author of the death-penalty-abolishment screed End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice, though much about the current state of criminal...

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    Replacement Theories

    In 2004, Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde published The Populist Zeitgeist, an attempt to define the growingly important but haphazardly applied concept of “populism.” He had an emotional as well as an academic interest, because “far-right”...

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    Books In Brief

    It is expected of an author that he say something new and big about someone or something new and big, even should it have been so for two years already. President Trump remains something new and big, though his detractors by now appear old and...

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    Nationalism: More to Learn

    However much they may enjoy watching Captain von Trapp sing “Edelweiss” in The Sound of Music, most Catholic intellectuals nowadays are squeamish about delving too deeply into the production’s historical background.

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    From Such Turn Away

    Dr. Daniel Mahoney, the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption College, has written a most scholarly and challenging book, in which he argues that “humanitarianism” without grounding in faith is a danger to our civilization.

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    Chief of Men

    Of the making of books about Churchill there is no end. The latest is the best to date. Andrew Roberts reduces Churchill’s epic life to some 1,100 pages, offering a précis of the great events in which he was involved while drawing on 40 new...

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    What the Editors Are Reading

    I’m rereading large portions of Ed Abbey’s books (of course) as Chronicles goes to press: Desert Solitaire, Black Sun and The Fool’s Progress (both novels), Abbey’s Road, One Life at a Time, Please, Down the River, Beyond the Wall, The Journey...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Mortal Remains

    Near the end of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen brothers’ latest cinematic whimsy being shown on Netflix, Brendan Gleeson sings a ditty (a British ballad called “The Unfortunate Lad,” on which “The Streets of Laredo” was based) that...

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    The Faults of Woodward and Trump

    There’s a lot of buncombe in Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House. Doubtless Chronicles readers heard some of it when the book was released on September 13, as the mainstream media played and replayed on the hour reports of Chief of...

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    The Empty Plinth

    With the Midterm Elections safely behind us, should we count on the left to renounce the fun of castigating nonleft types for their racism, sexism, and hetero normativism? Not on a bet.

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    Displaced Persons

    In an age of anti-elite anger, it might seem otiose to publish an academic analysis of aristocratic ideas in Western thought. But as the post-1945 order rattles itself to pieces, it is time to look past its bankrupted beliefs and discredited...

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    What the Editors Are Reading

    I expected something quite different than I got when I began reading As A City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon, by Daniel T. Rodgers and just released by Basic Books. I am not yet very far into it, but plan on taking it...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Mortal Coils

    Homosexuals make up two-to-four percent of the population, yet many assume their number is higher, much higher: 23 percent, according to a 2015 Gallup poll. It’s easy to understand why.

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    The Fable of the Glorious

    British journalist Peter Hitchens is a great controversialist. His most famous work remains his 1999 Abolition of Britain, which lamented the decline of Britain since the 1960’s, focusing particularly on the decay of morals and the rise of pop...

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    Books in Brief

    I need to be fair to this book, because the author, a concert pianist and writer who worked for a decade as a classical-music critic for the New York Times, certainly knows her stuff so far as opera goes.

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  • IN THE DARK

    The Undaunted

    Chuck Yeager, the much-celebrated Air Force test pilot, derisively referred to NASA’s original astronauts as “spam in a can.” He meant that once these extraordinarily brave men were strapped into their modules, they practically had no agency.

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    Obsession!

    Reading Ann Coulter’s newest polemical masterpiece brings to mind one of her previous ones. I don’t mean her sparkling In Trump We Trust, published just before the 2016 election (and reviewed in this magazine), in which she predicted that the...

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    A Matter of Necessity

    God, War, and Providence approaches the story of Roger Williams by exploring the relationship between Puritan Massachusetts and Williams’s Rhode Island, and the relations both colonies had with the Indian tribes inhabiting these regions.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Racing

    Spike Lee’s latest film, BlacKkKlansman, is an adaptation of Ron Stallworth’s memoir of his experiences as Colorado Springs’ first black policeman in 1972. As you might imagine his tenure was not without its trials.

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    A View From Across the Pond

    If ever there was a democratic election in a giant modern nation-state, it was Donald J. Trump’s victory in 2016. And I’ve closely watched every presidential election since I was nine in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson lied his way to a landslide...

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    Ask Jeeves

    Some of the best-loved characters in English literature are observed only dimly through the eyes of an unreliable first-person narrator; like fish seen through the glass of a tank, they swim toward us, momentarily dazzling in their colors, before...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Desperate Fatties

    This month we have two—you’ll excuse the expression—art-house films: You Were Really Never Here and Tully. Both feature actors—Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron—who heroically gained 50 pounds to play their roles.

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    The Truth About Hungary

    I met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn in May of last year. With a few others, we shared breakfast before the opening session of the second Budapest Demographic Forum. He was every bit the “footballer” I had been told to expect.

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    Law and Liberty

    Let’s say that a state passed a statute proscribing teachers from teaching reading in a language other than English until the student had passed the eighth grade. Violation of the statute was a misdemeanor.

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    Britons at War

    Is there a distinctly British brand of heroism? That is the implicit question running through Christopher Sandford’s Zeebrugge, a gripping new history of the British naval raid in April 1918 on the German-held Belgian port of that name.

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    Books in Brief

    Mark Atkins describes himself as a “failed Marine” who has never been in combat and who writes “with the same authority as that little boy who cried, “The Emperor has no clothes!” He is also a businessman who is fully aware that he is neither a...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Ministering

    Fashionable reviewers have brought out the heavy artillery to praise director Paul Schrader’s latest film, First Reformed, calling it transcendent, uncompromising, soaring, etc, etc. Maybe they saw a different film from the dank, pretentious one...

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    The Anatomy of Color

    History can be refracted through countless prisms—cultural, economic, environmental, ideological, moral, national, racial, religious—but one has been oddly unexplored, despite being not just obvious but ubiquitous.

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    Anglo Magic

    Field of Blood is one of the best new novels I have read in many a year, a superbly written book by a Russian scholar and analyst who is also a careful artist, a stylist, and a poet in prose and in form who has accomplished what few essayists and...

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    Books in Brief

    Theodore Roosevelt always considered himself a man of letters, and indeed he was one. He began reading widely and writing at an early age, and a day never seems to have passed when he did not read and write, even in circumstances fiercely...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Racial Follies

    I had never heard of the 1957 film Band of Angels directed by Raoul Walsh until I came upon it while sampling YouTube’s holdings. When I saw that it was an adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s novel of the same title, I decided to give it a try.

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    The Last Ideology

    “Liberalism has failed,” writes University of Notre Dame political-science professor Patrick Deneen in his new book with a related title. “Nearly every one of the promises . . . made by the architects and creators of liberalism has been...

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    Books in Brief

    Rémi Brague, the French Catholic historian and political philosopher, made his wider reputation in the early 1990’s with his book Europe, la voie romaine, in which he attempted a sketch of what Europe should be following its reunification after...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Bursting the Wineskin

    Growing up in the 1950’s, I was regaled with many stories about nuns and their punishing ways. Having attended Roman Catholic grammar school through the third grade, I did some regaling myself despite knowing full well that my tales were just...

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    A Billion Sordid Images

    "Disconnected" is not an amusing book. The subtitle’s “digitally distracted” doesn’t hint at its grim findings. This short text—a long one might be too dispiriting—is nevertheless lengthy enough to expose the digital revolution as an outright...

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    “Only Connect!”

    Niall Ferguson is a distinguished historian of Scottish origin who specializes in big arguments, and contrarian claims. His books are always provocative, frequently infuriating, and often (if not always) correct in their analyses.

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    Politics Is Policy

    “Drain the swamp!” Donald Trump declared in every campaign speech of 2016. He meant, of course, the Swamp of Washington, D.C., home of the labyrinthine network of centralized bureaucracies that control our lives. It’s also called the Deep State...

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    Not Your Brain

    Let’s give credit where it’s due. Linda Greenhouse, retired Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, is a brilliantly qualified journalist: hard-working, creative, dedicated to the needs of her profession as she understands them.

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    Time’s Terpsichorean

    Anthony Powell’s million-word, 12-volume novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time, is one of the great achievements of postwar English literature, attracting near-universal praise for its subtle and textured evocation of England between World...

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    Shepherd in a Strange Land

    “I’m a pastor, not a scholar,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since 2011, said when I interviewed him earlier last year for Catholic World Report about his new book. “A bishop’s job is helping people get to...

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    Books in Brief

    This is an excellent account—part social, part military, and part political—of the Mexican-American War, fought between 1846 and 1848 and concluded by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1849 that ceded, essentially, the northern half of Mexico to...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Signs and Revelations

    Three Billboards is hilarious; yet it could hardly be sadder. How can it be both at once? That’s director Martin McDonagh’s signature move. He’s a practitioner of a Swiftian satire that’s blacker than pitch and thus guaranteed to delight some...

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    What’s Sweet and Proper

    Joseph Pearce has created what he calls a “verse tapestry,” a weaving together of the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, two English poets whose experiences in World War I brought them to profound anger and despondency, each of them...

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    Mission Accomplished

    Gary Sheffield is an old hand at writing the history of World War I. In addition to being a professor of war studies at the University of Wolverhampton, he was co-editor of Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters, 1914-18.

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    How to Live

    In her Preface to this collection, Catharine Savage Brosman tells the reader that these essays are of three kinds: recollections of her own life and family, commentaries on literature, and examinations of the current state of American culture.

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    Regional Anthem

    A century ago, the American Midwest was in the ascendant, widely acknowledged as the nation’s vital Heartland, a place characterized by a morally strong and independent populace, a relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth in land (the...

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    Why Are We Here?

    Where does life come from, and why is it what it is? These are great mysteries. Even so, Darwinian theorists tell us it is nothing but a mechanical process that in principle is entirely explicable by reference to biochemistry, and thus to...

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    Stupid Is Not Enough

    Annals of the Stupid Party is more than a blistering critique of Republican ineptitude. Wilson is delivering one last two-by-four to the elephant: Donald Trump has taught you how to win again, by confronting such crucial issues as trade and...

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    Books in Brief

    Professor Lilla’s book, which appeared originally as an essay in the New York Review of Books, has received much attention (almost all of it bad) from liberals angered by its thesis that identity politics as it has developed over the past couple...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Of Death and Birth

    Watching director Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, I was reminded of Oscar Wilde’s comment concerning sexual tact. “I have no objection to anyone’s sex life,” he once revealed, “as long as they don’t practice it in the...

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    A Great Perhaps

    Sale’s theme is the restoration of “human scale” in all our works: architectural, political, economic, educational, and technological. His thesis is that only radical decentralization can achieve this aim.

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    The Camelot-Chequers Axis

    At the kernel of this story is the at times ambivalent relationship between JFK and his bluntly outspoken father, whose appointment in 1938 as ambassador to the Court of St. James seemed inexplicable even at the time.

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    Stepping Ashore

    The best poetry—great poetry—happens when sound, rhythm, and image bring about a mysterious feeling of wholeness that somehow draws mind, body, and spirit together in what both Yeats and Eliot envisioned as a unified dance.

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    Books in Brief

    As readers and critics had learned everything that is important to know about Hemingway and his work decades ago, subsequent books about the novelist have concentrated on viewing and re-viewing him from various angles.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Allegorically Yours

    I am about to discuss a truly wretched film: mother!, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Before I do I must warn you that I’ll be violating the reviewer’s rule against revealing a film’s central conceit and its ending.

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    Choose Your Side

    The first thought that occurred to me upon receiving a review copy of David Garrow’s hefty biography of our former president was, besides its weight (four pounds), how the jacket photograph perfectly expresses what is revealed in 1,084 pages of...

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    The E.U.’s Soft Underbelly

    The key wormhole in the central planners’ tottering but still grand scheme is the troubled euro, which is the handiwork of politicians, bureaucrats, and court economists whose vision proved to be more political than economic.

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    Realism of the Real

    In calendar terms, the novel is set in the early 1990’s, a time that is further away from us than we care to realize. Although many of us remember the early 90’s, we forget how long ago it was, not in terms of years, a quarter of a century being...

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    Making It Close

    Bearings and Distances is a considerable achievement in construction, technique, narration, drama, characterization, human insight, and most other things I can think of that go to make a novel a fine novel.

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    The Tragedy of Richard Nixon

    Pat Buchanan’s new biography of Richard Nixon’s presidency is the first volume anyone looking at that tumultuous time should turn to. Having served as Nixon’s researcher and speechwriter starting in 1966, Buchanan, not yet 30, followed the...

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    A Terrible Twilight

    Douglas Murray makes a ferociously well-argued case that Europe is now engaged on a parallel course: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Unflinching Women

    You wouldn’t think the life of a poet would make a good film, but Terence Davies’ account of Emily Dickinson’s passage through our world is not only a good film, but one of considerable artistic achievement.

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    The Tragedy of Richard Nixon

    Pat Buchanan’s new biography of Richard Nixon’s presidency is the first volume anyone looking at that tumultuous time should turn to. Having served as Nixon’s researcher and speechwriter starting in 1966, Buchanan, not yet 30, followed the...

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    The End of Something

    Kirchick is correct in seeing “the end” of something in Europe. The post-1989 policies of the European elites—which the neoconservatives supported—have brought the Continent to this point.

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    A Long Way Behind

    Yale’s Little Histories represent an admirable project, whereby true experts perform the exceedingly difficult task of summarizing a large field of knowledge in a short space, and in an accessible manner.

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    Splendid Dishonesty

    Stephen B. Presser, Chronicles’ legal-affairs editor, identifies a crisis in American legal education. In his book Law Professors, he shows us why a newly minted graduate of an elite American law school has no clue how to handle a case or...

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    Books in Brief

    This is an excellent and very readable book about the life and work of a man with whose name every educated person is familiar, but about whom (and which) few people in America today know very much, though his 100th birthday in 1869, only a...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Wonders

    Wonder Woman is the first installment of what threatens to be an endless line of sequels. Patty Jenkins directed the movie, an odd choice. Ms. Jenkins directed Monster in 2003, a sympathetic feminist treatment of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a...

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    The Esolen Option

    If we don’t like the way of life around us, why not live differently? Why go along with something so inhuman and unrewarding? So asks Anthony Esolen in his new book.

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    A Faith Misplaced

    Progressive arrogance. Technocratic overreach. Social engineering. Racial tension. Expanding executive powers. Aggressive and endless waves of “experts.” Economic disparity and unrest. “Us” versus “them.”

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    Churchill’s Home Front

    It is strange that a major biography of Clementine—a charismatic, clever, and strong-minded person who, as Sonia Purnell demonstrates, exerted a salutary and at times world-altering influence over her husband—should not have been written sooner.

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    On Deaf Ears

    President Trump has said that he does not intend to seek to impose our values globally and that it is not our job to engage in “nation building” by attempting to transform entire societies. That is a good start, and a promising sign for the...

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    The Fun of Brexit

    Arron Banks looks out proudly and pugnaciously from the cover of Bad Boys of Brexit like a character in a Hogarth engraving, flanking the equally Hogarthian Nigel Farage in a photo taken as Farage faced the globe’s agog media on the auspicious...

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    Churchill in Africa

    “Half-alien and wholly undesirable” was Lady Astor’s assessment of Winston Churchill. For Winston’s father, Randolph Churchill, had taken an American wife, “a dollar princess,” as many cash-strapped members of the English aristocracy did in the...

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    Books in Brief

    This very excellent and elegantly written book by the editor of the Adams Papers between 1983 and 2001 draws on the second American President’s entire corpus of political writing, from his books and pamphlets to his letters and diary entries.

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    The End and the Beginning

    Return the printed word to its rightful primacy in your imagination by buying and reading this book. Savor its contents; this remarkable collection of essays will whet your appetite for the next “final” volume from John Lukacs.

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    The Mystery of Things

    Near the end of Shakespeare’s King Lear, when all seems lost, Lear comforts his daughter Cordelia—like him, soon to die—by telling her that in prison they will contemplate “the mystery of things.” Both in this sense, and in another sense, the...

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    Bizarre Baroque

    This elegantly translated, superbly annotated new translation of his Tale of Tales—which Benedetto Croce called “the most remarkable book of the Baroque period”—should . . . be of abounding interest to anyone who has any proprietorial regard for...

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    Books in Brief

    Messengers of the Right, the author says, “explains how conservative media became the institutional and organizational nexus of the movement, transforming audiences into activists and activists into a reliable voting base.”

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  • IN THE DARK

    Good Country People

    I first learned about miscegenation in 1958. A student in my high-school religion class asked our teacher, Father Kohler, what he thought about race relations. Would they, he wondered, ever be resolved? The question surprised me.

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    Silicon Hillbilly

    Since I have long been convinced that the Appalachian South embodies a grounded yet radical alternative to the American mainstream, I got my hopes up recently when I learned that a young man from Breathitt County is garnering national attention...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Shall We Dance?

    In last month’s issue, no less a cinematic authority than Taki pronounced La La Land delightful, a judgment with which I thoroughly agree. This movie does something I despaired of ever seeing again.

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    Conservatism in the Time of Trump

    The election of Donald Trump has upended the expectations of what paleoconservatives and others have long called Conservatism, Inc. The influence of establishment conservatism all but evaporated during the primaries, as its chosen champions fell...

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    An American In Great Britain

    George Goodwin’s new book on Benjamin Franklin explores the 18 years Franklin spent in England working as a printer (1726-28) and as an agent representing the Pennsylvania assembly and other American colonies (1757-62, 1766-75).

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    Sounding the Trump

    In important ways, a revolutionary process has begun. So argues Ilana Mercer in the best extended analysis yet published of the Trump phenomenon: “Trump is getting an atrophied political system to oscillate” in “an oddly marvelous uprising.”

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    The Unmeaning of Unmeaning

    The mark of a good scientist is curiosity and imagination; when those cease, so do reliable answers to tough questions. Wilson foregoes any discussion of aseity and fails or refuses to account for how the cosmos could arise out of nothing.

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    Holy Among Fools

    In his latest novel, Derek Turner, author of Sea Changes and Displacement, takes his readers on a seriocomic journey with a latter-day Holy Fool. Along the way, Turner takes aim at the insanity of political correctness, celebrity culture in the...

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    Twilight of the Gods

    It would be impossible here to do justice to the scope and massive detail of Gordon’s study. In nine chapters in Part One, he surveys the effects of technological and economic growth between 1870 and 1940.

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    Books in Brief

    This well-written and highly readable biography [of John Adams], addressed to the general reader rather than to the academic historian, is nevertheless a substantial as well as a highly accessible work by a professor of foreign policy at New York...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Counting on Rosary Beads

    The Legend of Tarzan begins in the Belgian Congo with its villain, Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz), a small blond man with a sinister, twisted face. His right hand is wrapped with what looks like a set of Islamic prayer beads, which he soon...

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    Openings and Closings

    Raphael Israeli examines one of the most difficult political problems of our time: The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He approaches the subject by presenting and analyzing research on the conflict by earlier Israeli...

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    The Romantic Tory

    David Cesarani’s new biography of Disraeli does not surpass Blake’s book. It focuses on the Jewish aspect of Benjamin Disraeli as part of the Jewish Lives series at Yale University Press.

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    Books in Brief

    This sympathetic, indeed deeply moving, biography of the ill-fated king, Louis XVI, is dramatic and mostly well written, save in certain instances where I found the presentation of particular events unclear.

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    Dealing With Hitler

    "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" has received exceptional attention and nearly universal praise. Prof. Timothy Snyder’s knowledge of the holocaust is almost encyclopedic.

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  • REVIEWS

    Iron Lady on Her Mettle

    Margaret Thatcher remains the only Conservative prime minister who has become an ism, and her rule will always be remembered for deregulation, the selling off of state assets from telephones and airlines to council housing, and the radical Stock...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Myth Demolished

    Over the past two decades a great chasm has opened up between the tenured American professoriate specializing in the humanities and social sciences, and the meaningful discussion of its subjects in the public arena.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Crucial Years

    The evidence of the end of the Cold War around 1990 was clearer than evidence of its beginning had been around, say, 1947. By “Cold War” we mean the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union—not that between the United States and...

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  • REVIEWS

    What the Editors Are Reading

    Asked by a Lutheran-pastor friend to recommend some fiction for summer reading, I immediately thought of Ole Rølvaag’s trilogy. I’d been thinking about revisiting these novels for some time, as questions surrounding the just and humane treatment...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Real Place

    This work reminds me, on an appropriately more modest scale, of John Lukacs’s book on Philadelphians. Both hearken back to a time when Americans were a semicivilized people who lived in Real Places rather than the rootless inhabitants of a...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Price of Being Human

    In her tenth volume of poetry, Catharine Savage Brosman has given readers a wide array of skillfully written and insightful poems that capture the poet’s keen observations of nature, her journeys from New Mexico to Antarctica, and her sense of...

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  • REVIEWS

    Books in Brief

    Edwards, a digital-marketing executive, states at the beginning of this book that it was not his intention to write “a rant against all things digital.” Nevertheless, his evaluation of what the digital revolution has wrought comes closer to an...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Chief and His Men

    On June 1, 1945, Pope Pius XII met for three hours in private audience with his co-conspirator, the German lawyer Josef Müller. “I had hardly crossed the threshold into his study when the Holy Father approached me, and embraced me,” Müller later...

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  • REVIEWS

    Books in Brief

    Historians have long noted the seeming paradox that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution invested the office of the American president with greater powers than those enjoyed by the English king, whose “yoke” they had just thrown off.

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  • REVIEWS

    It’s the Debt, Stupid

    A distinguished and liberal economic historian, Prof. Michael Hudson has laid bare the secret of the present American dilemma—why we suffer a declining and artificial economy and a widening chasm between the rich and the rest.

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  • REVIEWS

    Kidnapped

    Aldersey-Williams is obsessed, he says, with Browne, a fascinating combination of writer and protoscientist who, he believes, is “insufficiently known and unjustly neglected” by literary people and scientists alike.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Incomparable Max

    Back in 1965, reviewing Lord David Cecil’s life of Beerbohm, W.H. Auden wrote that Beerbohm’s kind of “pure” essay, written “only to produce aesthetic satisfaction,” was a genre “to which no reader under sixty can bring himself to attend.”

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  • REVIEWS

    Beautiful Apologetics

    Art and literature are powerful mediums to convey timeless truths. In the Introduction to Catholic Literary Giants, Joseph Pearce declares the power of art to evangelize, a defense of the Catholic Faith he terms the “apologetics of beauty.”

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  • REVIEWS

    Royalism and Reaction

    After publishing highly acclaimed biographies of Zola and Flaubert, the New York City-based Frederick Brown established himself as an expert on French cultural and intellectual life with his magnificent book For the Soul of France.

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  • REVIEWS

    Band-Aids for the Corpse

    F.H. Buckley is rightly alarmed by present trends and admirably free of party propaganda. He realizes that Democrats as well as Republicans have contributed to the imperial presidency and provides good recent examples of this.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Better World

    I guess the misguided call it whining—the apparent conservative fixation on modern awfulness; on the disappearance of morals, manners, handwritten notes, and neckties, and the concomitant nonstop appearance of . . . shall we just leave it at H....

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  • REVIEWS

    My Only Light

    One of the things that James VI of Scotland liked about becoming James I of England—apart from the money—was that as head of the Church of England he would never be bossed about by a Scotch Calvinist minister again.

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  • REVIEWS

    Agonistic Politics

    Thirty years ago Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) was hardly visible on the American intellectual horizon, and the rare mention of his name in scholarly publications was usually dismissive.

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  • REVIEWS

    Empire of Nihilism

    By any reasonable measure, the policies carried out by the U.S. government since 1990 toward the Muslim countries of the Middle East (democracy promotion, regime change, political stabilization, “peace process,” antiterrorism) have failed...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Women on the Loose

    We never know how feminism will show up at the movies. We only know that it will. Currently, it’s on display in George Miller’s rabid action film Mad Max: Fury Road and the quietly cerebral science-fiction allegory Ex Machina.

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  • REVIEWS

    Manual Control

    Russian political analyst Vladimir Pastukhov once wrote that state power, or vlast, and not law “holds a sacred status in Russia.” Russians, according to Pastukhov, experience state power as a “mystical entity,” a “life giving substance,” a...

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  • REVIEWS

    Blessed Be the Passionate

    The object of passion might be well-nigh anything at all, so long of course as it is not vicious: stamp collecting or field hockey, cabinetry or the Civil War, boxing or bell ringing; in one case known to me personally, the hand-manufacture of...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Trucking Upward

    I went to J.C. Chandor’s new film A Most Violent Year with high expectations. His first, Margin Call, was simply the best cinematic examination of the 2008 banking crisis we’ve had to date: literate, moving, funny, and, above...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Last Fall of France

    No one excels at polemics as the French do, save for the English at certain periods of their history (the 17th and 18th centuries, for example), and Le suicide français is a masterly specimen of the genre by Éric Zemmour, the author of...

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  • REVIEWS

    Biting the Bullet

    The flyleaf of this book sports a quote (“One finally gets the musical whole of Dostoevsky’s original”) from an enthusiastic notice in the New York Times Book Review of a new translation of The Brothers Karamazov, which the...

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  • REVIEWS

    Mismatch

    Philip Larkin, the poet-librarian of Hull University, died December 2, 1985, over 29 years ago. In the years since Andrew Motion published the first biography (1993), and Anthony Thwaite published both the first complete edition of the poems...

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  • REVIEWS

    Good Grief

    Poetry has to me never been what I have so often heard called a problem, and that was so for the simplest of reasons: It was never presented to me as a promblem until I was advanced in school, after which it was reformulated as a target of...

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  • REVIEWS

    Idealists Without Illusions

    Like all relationships, the special transatlantic one is in a state of constant flux—warmer or cooler at different times, enhanced by empathy, marred by misunderstandings, riven by reality—but always affected by the personal qualities of the...

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  • REVIEWS

    Everyman’s Poet

    Jared Carter, who has retired from a career in publishing, is a Midwestern poet of stature. He won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and the Poets’ Prize; he has had a Guggenheim fellowship and two fellowships from the...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Groovy Solipsism

    You never know what you’ll learn at the movies. Watching the two films under review this month, I discovered solipsism isn’t, as I had thought, a philosophical school of thought, but a disease spread by smoking marijuana while taking yourself...

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  • A Second Look

    Insecure Liberalism

    As I was reading my monthly Bible—guess what that is—I came across an enthusiastic review of a book, written by a French political philosopher, Pierre Manent, entitled Metamorphoses of the City. I rushed to buy a copy.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Practice of Politics

    This is a history of liberalism as it appears to an intelligent, well-informed, and thoroughly convinced English liberal who worked for many years as an editor and correspondent for The Economist.

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  • REVIEWS

    4.0 and You’re Out!

    When I was a junior at the Trinity School in New York, Mr. Clarence Bruner-Smith, head of the Upper School, assured me that I had an excellent chance of being accepted at Yale if I accepted the editorship of the school literary magazine.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Question of Fairness

    It all comes down to questions of fairness. On January 27, 2007, a journalist by the name of Peter Finn published in the Washington Post an interview with Ivan Tolstoy, a literary scholar distantly related to the famous writer.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Revolution That Isn’t

    Conservatives have a love-hate relationship with technology. Although we often decry the effects of the usage of new technologies on societal traditions, it is conservative societies that provide the foundation for technological advancement.

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  • REVIEWS

    Waitin’ for The Robert E. Lee

    The life of Lee having been “done,” redone, and perhaps even undone by revisionist treatment, the present weighty phenomenon requires some contextual examination. We might first and simply ask the question, What is the purpose of this book?

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  • REVIEWS

    Getting Nixon Right

    In November 1972 I voted for the re-election of President Nixon. Granted, it was only an elementary-school straw poll, but I was still thrilled when he carried the student body by a three-to-one margin.

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  • REVIEWS

    Battle of the Journeymen

    The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I has long been anticipated, judging by the publication of dozens of new books on what was called, until World War II, the Great War, although the Ghastly War might be more appropriate.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Vocation

    In his novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), James Joyce has the father of his protagonist, Stephen Daedalus, bitterly complain of the Irish people, “We are an unfortunate priest-ridden race and always were and always...

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  • REVIEWS

    Pedestaled Power

    A stroll across the majority of university campuses, five minutes of channel surfing, the U.S. Supreme Court’s First Amendment case law, popular behavior and that of the American elite—these are proof positive that Christianity in the 21st...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Just and Honest Man

    In its almost 60 years, much has been written about National Review, especially about those present at its creation. Most attention, of course, has been given to founder William F. Buckley, Jr., but others there at the beginning, such as...

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  • REVIEWS

    An Interwar Odyssey

    In 2011, Patrick Leigh Fermor became Patrick Leigh Former, and hundreds of thousands of devotees were doubly bereft. The first loss was the man himself, at 96 an antique in his own right, one of the last links to what feels increasingly like an...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Necessary Book

    We have been enduring the cultural revolution of liberal modernity. It is hard to say exactly when that revolution began, but it took a great step forward in the 60’s, when social and religious tradition lost its last shreds of public authority,...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Uses of American Government

    That the republic has degenerated from a Protestant-inflected localized republic to a centralized bureaucratic imperial state is something most conservatives take for granted. The reason for such a transformation, however, sometimes becomes more...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Person Is Always Becoming

    Everyone in the Western world writes from left to right, so Michael Novak’s title is more cute than revealing. The subtitle, on the other hand, makes a claim: that he moved from at one point in his life being a liberal to an admission that,...

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  • REVIEWS

    Light From Elsewhere

    In the beginning, the poetic birth of the city becomes visible in the Iliad in the warrior camp of the Achaeans, in what Pierre Manent calls—in one of his most striking formulations—the “republic of quarrelsome persuasion.”

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  • IN THE DARK

    Pregnant With Meaning

    Set in the near future, Her uses one of science fiction’s hallowed, not to say hoary, premises in order to investigate the nature of romantic relationships: What happens when humans find themselves interacting with an artificial...

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  • REVIEWS

    Impractical Solutions

    Mark Levin, in his best-selling book The Liberty Amendments, is absolutely right about two things: First, the Courts, president, and Congress are not playing the roles assigned to them by the Constitution.

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  • REVIEWS

    End Game

    The latest, and perhaps the best, book to be written in the wake of the Great Recession raises an important question: Why is it that America’s self-appointed elite refuses to learn from its long record of failure and futility in economic...

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  • REVIEWS

    Proper Books

    Lee, Tito Perdue’s story of the deeply misanthropic Lee Pefley’s flailing progress through flaccid late-modern America, execrating and excreting as he lashes and limps, displayed “magically evocative descriptive powers, pungent wit and [an]...

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  • REVIEWS

    Take a Hand

    There’s no analysis to speak of in Bill Minutaglio’s and Steven L. Davis’s account of life and events in the city—Dallas—that much of the world came to hate after the Kennedy assassination.

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  • REVIEWS

    Updike's Grandfather

    A poll of American historians, not long ago, chose James Buchanan as “the worst” American president. But judgments of “best” and “worst” in history are not eternal and indisputable truths.

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  • REVIEWS

    France in Asia, and at Home

    These books on postwar French history are meritorious and complementary. Professor Logevall’s effort is a careful military and political history of the French Indo-Chinese war, including three chapters on its aftermath. Mr. Fenby’s readable...

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  • REVIEWS

    One Big Thing

    Devouring Freedom is substantially a useful history of the spending wars between America’s two main political parties since 1932, culminating in the years since 2009 when Barack Obama became president of the United States.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Attachment and Loss

    Grim. That’s the first thing to say about Woody Allen’s new movie, Blue Jasmine. The second is that its lead, Cate Blanchett, gives one of the best performances by an actress since Vivian Leigh played Blanche DuBois in Elia Kazan’s 1951...

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  • REVIEWS

    Light of Being

    Lest readers misunderstand, it must be said at the outset that these poems, selected from "Psaumes de tous mes temps" (1974), by Patrice de La Tour du Pin (1911-75), are not translations, even rough ones, from the Psalms of the Bible.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Elysian Fields Forever

    Neill Blomkamp’s second film, Elysium, is, in a way, a sequel to his first, District 9. This time, however, there are no eight-foot-tall prawn-like aliens accusing earthlings in Johannesburg, South Africa, of the crime of apartheid or...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Difficult Decade

    James Patterson’s controlling idea is that the 60’s became the 60’s in 1965, and that this represented an “Eve of Destruction.” One struggles for about 300 pages trying to find out . . . destruction of what?

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  • REVIEWS

    The Pike

    The French wordsmith Romain Rolland, himself no slouch at being derivative as a thinker, likened his Italian contemporary Gabriele d’Annunzio to a pike, the freshwater predator famous for lying still and snapping at whatever comes.

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  • REVIEWS

    Persecutions to Come

    Consider the unfortunate case of Prof. Thomas Klocek, whose story is one of many examples of intolerance recounted in D.A. Carson’s most recent book. Klocek engaged in a brief debate with a group of Palestinian student activists at DePaul...

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  • REVIEWS

    Horses and Carriages

    I don’t know whether I buy completely into Mary Eberstadt’s arresting title. How does anybody “lose” God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth (as the Nicene Creed impressively denominates Him)?

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  • IN THE DARK

    Reason’s Enemy

    What makes a good war story? Cannons, bombs, bloody bodies, and bounding heroes? Stephen Crane’s short story “An Episode of War” demonstrates it can be achieved by other means. It fully registers the madness, horror, and folly of armed combat...

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  • REVIEWS

    Why Garry Wills?

    Garry Wills identifies himself as a Christian. He says he accepts the creeds, along with prayer, divine providence, the Gospels, the Eucharist, and the Mystical Body of Christ as the body of all believers. He also identifies as a Catholic, and...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Mind of the South

    Sadly, William Gilmore Simms’ desire for an enduring voice turned out to be a case of wishful thinking. By the beginning of the 20th century, the man who had been not only the “Old South’s foremost public intellectual,” as David S. Shields puts...

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  • REVIEWS

    Late Autumn Light

    I own almost every book written by John Lukacs—close to 40 now—and several in multiple editions, but never before have I spent so much time contemplating the cover of one of these volumes.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Oblivious

    Oblivion seems to me an experiment in form following function. Its off-the-shelf science-fiction narrative unwinds in such a perversely baffling manner that you have to wonder if writer-director Joseph Kosinski was determined to have his...

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  • REVIEWS

    Where Color Led

    Yale University Press promises that Witness to History “will fascinate anyone interested in the great political figures of world history during the twentieth century.”

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  • REVIEWS

    A Sticker in Kentucky

    Last year’s lecturer was the poet, novelist, cultural critic, and farmer Wendell Berry. Those Chronicles readers who are acquainted with him and his work will not be surprised that “It All Turns on Affection” is concerned with family farming.

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  • REVIEWS

    Anarch's Journey

    Ernst Jünger was 20th-century Germany’s most prolific writer. Throughout his long life—he lived to age 102—he chronicled the upheavals of that most violent century. Despite his talent and output, Jünger remains virtually unknown in America.

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  • REVIEWS

    Blood Will Tell

    Wolfe’s unerring instinct has chosen Miami for his latest dissection. A Caribbean free port, it is America’s Singapore or Hong Kong, where a majority of the population is one generation or less off the boat, in but not of our country.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Yanqui Doodle Dandy

    Henry Adams published his eponymous autobiography in the early years of the last century. Now, just about a hundred years after The Education of Henry Adams, we have The Education of Héctor Villa. America is center stage in both, but they are...

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  • REVIEWS

    America the Redeemer

    Jesus’ words to his followers about the city on a hill, coming between references to salt without savor and the futility of hiding a light under a bushel, are admonitory, not congratulatory. Those upon whom the light has been bestowed are not...

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  • REVIEWS

    Maya at Half-Past Midnight

    Now Bigelow and Boal have returned with another film that attempts to depict with equal honesty our activities elsewhere in the Middle East. This time, however, their honesty is somewhat compromised, paradoxically enough, by their attempt to...

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  • REVIEWS

    Home Truths on Ecology

    The relationship between Greens and Conservatives in England is notoriously fractious. Many conservatives see Greens as sub-Marxist semibeatniks, and many Greens see conservatives as military-industrial Morlocks.

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  • REVIEWS

    In God We Fail

    The recent flood of secession petitions in the wake of the re-election of President Barack Obama has raised secession to something more than the curiosity or esoteric joke that it has been heretofore.

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  • REVIEWS

    That Hideous Absolutism

    To the modern mind, religion and magic are related. Both are based on superstition, and both have been proved false by science. C.S. Lewis thought otherwise: Magic is more closely related to science.

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  • REVIEWS

    Mr. Eliot's Double Life

    These two massive volumes—the first published originally in 1988, the second now joining it with much fanfare—chronicle the period during which T.S. Eliot developed from the scion of a prosperous Midwestern family to the poet of The Waste Land...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Sickness Unto Death

    George Santayana’s dictum—“Those who forget the past . . . ”—has long since become one of those clichés beloved of high-school history teachers, who never tire of repeating it to their indifferent charges.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Joys of Winter

    The poems in this ninth full-length collection by Catharine Savage Brosman could have been composed only by a poet who has lived, studied, and written well through the spring, summer, and autumn and now on into the winter of life.

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  • REVIEWS

    What Was Not Lost

    The name of this book’s subject doesn’t appear in the text proper until page 14, and then as that of an adult attending the opening in London’s Bloomsbury of the Poetry Bookshop on January 8, 1913.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Enemies

    No less an authority than Vatican City’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has declared James Bond a Roman Catholic. For evidence they cite his latest adventure, Skyfall, in which Bond proudly proclaims his hobby to be...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Giant Maligned

    The “Great Men” of history were mostly mad or bad, and often both. To be driven by pride, vanity, and ruthless ambition is common and unremarkable. That drive is not sufficient to leave a lasting mark on the affairs of mankind, of course, but...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Poisonous Intoxicants

    The Master is another travesty by the supposed wunderkind Paul Thomas Anderson. In 2005 he gave us his rendition of Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil in There Will Be Blood. Unfortunately, he left out all that made the book a telling examination...

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  • REVIEWS

    How We Got Here

    Chilton Williamson’s illuminating enterprise—and let me assure you, it does illuminate—is to examine democracy’s course since the publication, not quite two centuries ago, of Democracy in America.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Magnetic Chain of Humanity

    With respect to the equality proposition, Alvis asserts that the only interpretation of equality consistent with the Declaration as a whole may be concisely expressed, “Government exists for the sake of all the governed.”

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  • REVIEWS

    A People's Worst Enemy

    The adjective in the title of The Lost History of 1914 refers to the five ways in which the Great War might not have happened—five lost paths leading to peace. Though some critics have described the book as counterfactual, in fact it is...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Lawless Enforcement

    I’m sorry to say you won’t find a Cagney aspirant in Lawless, the Prohibition-era film about the underappreciated Bondurant brothers, adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novelization of the story of his grandfather and uncles during the Great Depression.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Republic Not Kept

    American conservatism, as Brion McClanahan and Clyde Wilson understand it, can be summed up in the words independence, liberty, free trade, strictly limited government, and constitutionalism, as the Jeffersonian and states’-rights Whig tradition...

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  • REVIEWS

    Maistre in the Dock

    In September 2010, Émile Perreau-Saussine, age 37, was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, U.K., with chest pains. The junior physician on staff misdiagnosed his condition and thus failed to prevent his death hours later of a massive...

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  • REVIEWS

    One City, Three Faiths

    Simon Sebag Montefiore’s latest book is an ambitious yet incomplete survey of Jerusalem’s history. It begins with the Exodus from Egypt and concludes with the reunification of the Holy City under Israeli rule in 1967.

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  • REVIEWS

    By Merit Raised

    In his most recent book Charles Murray argues that over the course of more than five decades American society has undergone an evolution of social classes “different in kind and degree than [sic] anything the nation has ever known.”

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  • REVIEWS

    Caring About the Glock

    His is not a treatment conceived for a particular audience—above all, it is not a book aimed at those devoted to “guns,” or at members of the National Rifle Association, or at Second Amendment absolutists, even though such people will be...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Bullseye!

    Like most intelligent science fiction, The Hunger Games is not really about the future. It’s about what’s under our eyes right here, right now. Collins made this clear in an interview.

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  • REVIEWS

    What Have They Wrought?

    In spring 2005, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were beginning their second term in office. They were expending some “political capital,” as Bush put it, advancing their Social Security reform plan.

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  • IN THE DARK

    A Capital Mars

    When Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Under the Moons of Mars in 1911, introducing the character John Carter, he did so in a mood of desperation. At 35, with a wife and two children, he had failed miserably in several business ventures and was in the...

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  • REVIEWS

    Sesquicentennial Sidelights

    I have always thought that the Northern way is more in need of explanation and should receive more close attention. It was the North that conducted a vicious war of invasion and conquest against other Americans, a thing previously unthinkable,...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Cardinal in Full

    In his Testament politique, Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duc de Richelieu, wrote, “A capable prince represents a great treasure in a state. A skillful counsel . . . is no less a treasure.” Surely Richelieu had himself in mind, as...

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  • REVIEWS

    Against His Own Nature

    Formula 1 and sports car racing back in the 50’s and early 60’s, when drivers wore polo shirts and flimsy helmets, and before seat belts and other safety-related developments, is for a host of reasons a most appealing topic, but the more you...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Fellowship of Joking

    “The key question to ask,” Christie Davies claims, “is why this particular set of jokes is in circulation at this particular time in this particular society rather than some other possible set.”

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  • REVIEWS

    A Warring Visionary

    British scholar Timothy Stanley has produced the first significant biography of Patrick J. Buchanan, describing his life from his boyhood in Washington, D.C., up to the present. Stanley’s book is written in a breezy, informal manner—Buchanan...

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  • REVIEWS

    History Today

    God’s Crucible is a fluid 473-page panegyric of Islam and a visceral diatribe against the Christian West. Significantly, in the Index, one finds under al-Andalus the inevitable entry on “Christian fanaticism” but searches in vain...

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  • REVIEWS

    Big Surprise

    I have always thought that a strong justification for freedom of speech and press is the possibility, however small, that a lonely voice telling an unwanted truth might be heard. Such a speaker requires intellectual courage—the rarest of all...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Illusions and Disillusions

    As I write, many critics have declared French writer-director Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist the best film of 2011. I don’t know what “best” means when applied to a movie, but I will say this:The Artist is unquestionably the most...

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  • REVIEWS

    Fall of a Titan

    The current work exhibits the most famous paleoconservative’s trademark word-crafting verve, encyclopedic knowledge of history and politics, and emotional power.

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  • REVIEWS

    Origins of the Balkan Wars

    The long-awaited new edition of Srdja Trifkovic’s work on the genocidal Ustaša—Croatian Revolutionary Movement is a pivotal contribution to modern Balkan studies, an area regrettably mired in deception, half-truths, and outright lies served up...

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  • REVIEWS

    Homing in on England

    Michael Wood begins with a quotation from Blake: “To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit.” This line betokens his aim, which is to zero in on one small English place and use its specific saga to tell the wider tale of all England...

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  • REVIEWS

    Just Say No to the Kool-Aid

    Much of Rand Paul’s book focuses on how he overcame enormous odds in 2010 to win—first, the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate against an establishment favorite, and then in defeating a popular Democratic candidate in the general election.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Other America

    Violence, coarseness, crises of immigration, collapses of distinctions—these phenomena sound American and raise a question: If our country is so different from Britain, then how is it that we seem to have wound up in such a similarly precarious...

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  • REVIEWS

    Myth and Phobia

    Orlando Figes’ new book does much to shed light on a conflict long neglected by contemporary historians and is likely to become the preeminent work on the Crimean War.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Seedbed of Renewal

    Many people who consider themselves conservative are woefully ignorant of the culture they claim to defend. The list of causes is long: Television has largely destroyed storytelling, public school denigrates the idea of a common culture, and...

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  • REVIEWS

    Partisan Revisionism

    Richard Miles presents a new history of Carthage, which aims to show the land of Dido and Hannibal in a new light and rehabilitate the Punic state from what the author considers neglect and prejudice on the part of later historians.

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  • REVIEWS

    Maltese Delights

    Those who were struck by the graceful prose and clear thinking of Judge Giovanni Bonello’s decision in the case of the Italian crucifix (see “Keeping History,” Cultural Revolutions, July) should be interested to learn that he has for some...

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  • REVIEWS

    Sold, Not Bought

    If you want to understand our current financial woes, skip the economists and go directly to the premiere analyst of the Great Depression, James M. Cain. His 1943 novel Double Indemnity (originally a 1936 serial that ran in...

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  • REVIEWS

    Medieval Modernism

    Unlike certain 19th-century poets of difficult character or seemingly foredoomed, whom Paul Verlaine called maudits (accursed)—Rimbaud, Gérard de Nerval, Corbière, Verlaine himself—Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) was a pleasant,...

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  • REVIEWS

    Bungalow Minds

    Paul Barker has expended much of his career (mostly at the left-leaning New Society, later absorbed into the New Statesman) to make us appreciate the unfashionable backwaters where some 84 percent of Britons opt (or are constrained) to live.

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  • REVIEWS

    Limited Hangout

    Donald Rumsfeld has produced, four years after his departure from government, a memoir of no stylistic distinction. It contains few if any interesting revelations, save, perhaps, those relating to President Nixon’s choice of vice presidents.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Under an Honorable Spell

    Even now that he’s a young man, Liam still thinks the world of Harry Potter. For him, it’s now a matter of nostalgia, I suspect. It all began when he started reading J.K. Rowling’s stories of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a...

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  • REVIEWS

    Calvinism Without God

    Forget the “culture wars” and the assault on Christianity. The real conflict in America is thoroughly secular—between environmental and ecological “religions”—or so says Robert Nelson.

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  • REVIEWS

    Anglo-Saxon Reality

    Some poems in Celtic languages are older, but the earliest sizable body of vernacular literature in Europe is the Old English, dating, by liberal estimation, from the seventh century to the twelfth.

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  • REVIEWS

    New Tricks

    Steve Farron has written not only a comprehensive and exhaustive study of the subject but a brilliantly insightful critique of the whole ugly and unconstitutional process of discriminating against whites.

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  • REVIEWS

    Thunderbolt Kid

    Bill Bryson’s most salient quality is his humor, which ranges from sarcasm to wordplay but doesn’t seem to traffic much in zippy one-liners, else Richert might cite a few of them.

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  • REVIEWS

    Late in the Day

    This volume—which ranges widely in form and motif, from the sacred to the profane, from the personal past to the larger cultural and historical past, from a 1680 massacre of Franciscan martyrs to the cultural chaos of the 1960’s—provides ample...

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  • REVIEWS

    At the Moral Front

    What sets Moral Combat from other apart World War II works is Michael Burleigh’s examination of the moral aspects of the war and the choices made throughout by the participants.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Shouldering On

    Now we know: When it comes to celebrating the virtues of unbridled capitalism, it does not pay to skimp. The ten million dollars producer John Aglialoro spent on adapting Atlas Shrugged to the screen has proved woefully insufficient.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Robot's Focus

    By the time Tony Blair stood down as prime minister to give his rival Gordon Brown the opportunity to lose office ignominiously, he had become as unpopular on the left as he had always been on the right.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Unifier at Number Ten

    Harold Macmillan’s prescription in 1933 was an apparatus of state-sanctioned codes for each industry that would bear a considerable resemblance to Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration, subject to various forms of public review.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Three From the Past

    Three recent American films are redolent of Hollywood’s past. They’re inhabited by attractive, competent actors, feature intricately, sometimes illogically plotted narratives, and have little purpose beyond entertaining their audiences. As...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Southern Foison

    In the Introduction to the first of these two volumes, Clyde Wilson allows, after a few paragraphs of justified complaint against the wholesale academic and political assault on Southern identity as well as Southern culture, that it was not...

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  • REVIEWS

    Truth in Memory

    Carlos Eire has an hilarious sense of humor and continues to paint unforgettable scenes of boyhood awkwardness or hell-raising that appear to spring from a limitless font of poignant examples.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Convergence of Catastrophes

    The catastrophic “imaginary” (as the postmodernists might say) is alive and well. Haunted by the falling Twin Towers, we imagine still more horrific scenarios to come: dirty bombs, perhaps, reducing our cities to rubble and befouling the air of...

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  • REVIEWS

    The One and Indispensable

    When Bill C. Malone’s Country Music, U.S.A. first appeared in 1968, it was obviously the most careful, well-researched, judicious, and accessible book on any kind of American popular music, including jazz, that had been published up to...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Life Rediscovered

    ISI Books, the publishing arm of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, is doing a great service by putting out the Lives of the Founders series, emphasizing “important but unjustly neglected figures of the American Founding.”

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  • REVIEWS

    Bruised Reeds

    What is revealed is a man at once engagingly straightforward and wholly bound up with bearing witness to the “truth, the love and the joy that comes from conversion to Christ,” as George Weigel writes in his Foreword.

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  • REVIEWS

    Something Serious At Stake

    In his prefatory essay to the premier issue of First Things in March 1990, editor Richard John Neuhaus stated that the purpose of the journal would be to discuss the relationship between “religion and public life.”

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  • IN THE DARK

    The Grit and the Gritless

    This month’s Chronicles is devoted to exposing our popular culture’s determination to confront youngsters with sexual images and themes for which they haven’t the means to cope. The Green Hornet serves as a prime example of this...

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  • REVIEWS

    Picking Up the Pieces

    Great Britain is in trouble—politically, economically, and culturally—and Phillip Blond wants to change this. He blames both the political right and the left for having created an atomistic society in which all pursue self-interest to the...

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  • REVIEWS

    Getting Here From There

    If you can remember the 1960’s, the old line goes, you weren’t really there. “There,” of course, means the counterculture represented by Woodstock, hallucinogenic drugs, antiwar protests, and Haight-Ashbury.

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  • REVIEWS

    European Union

    Sometimes short books on great musicians markedly surpass longer ones. Aspects of Wagner, by British philosopher and ex-parliamentarian Bryan Magee, provides a much better guide in its 112 pages to the Master of Bayreuth than do most...

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  • REVIEWS

    Philosophical Arcs

    Many of the poems feature familiar Louisiana landscape and avian life. All in some way address the underlying ties between nature and art, their metaphysical underpinnings: an order perceivable in natural form and in the work of artists.

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  • IN THE DARK

    Mortal Terror

    The drama of the film resides in the prospect of watching a human being undergo hideous suffering in the hope of achieving his rebirth. It is, in other words, a variant of the essential Christian mystery: How do we maintain hope in the face of...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Coming North American Order

    When he crosses the border from El Paso into the dust-blasted and sun-tortured streets of Ciudad Juárez, he is not going back in time or experiencing an ugly bump on the road to the New World Order but glimpsing “the sharp edge slashing into a...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Holy Craft

    The opportunity for a reconsideration, indeed a reconstruction, of literary history is, in the case of William Gilmore Simms’ poetry, both enticing and rewarding. In Matthew Brennan’s analytical volume, we find the basis, fully elaborated, for...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Neocon Follies

    Doug Liman has performed half a public service with his new film, Fair Game. By retelling the story of the neoconservative attack on Amb. Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, he has once more exposed how eager these ideologues are...

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  • REVIEWS

    World of War

    With the two brief exceptions of Baghdad and Spain over a millennium ago, the history of Islam has been that of a long decline without a fall. What started as a violent creed of invaders from the desert soon ran out of steam, but the collective...

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  • REVIEWS

    Happy Warriors

    Readers of The War Lovers, a fascinating account of the dawn of America’s imperial age by Newsweek reporter Evan Thomas, are bound to feel a twinge of déjà vu as they put down the book.

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  • REVIEWS

    Back to Hamilton

    The credit bubble, which exploded in September 2008, exposed the fact that the U.S. economy has been devastated by globalism. Unemployment numbers—effectively close to 20 percent, about 25 million out of a workforce of 120 million—are near...

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  • IN THE DARK

    Include Me Out

    The Social Network concerns Mark Zuckerberg and his cybercreation, Facebook, the website that now boasts 500 million active users and has made its “inventor” a multi-billionaire. On his site, you’re free to divulge your most praiseworthy,...

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  • REVIEWS

    Cold War, Warm Friends

    The legacies of every war include controversy regarding its origins, its prosecution, its conclusion, and its material and political results. In the case of World War II, John Lukacs argues that among its major legacies was the Cold War, whose...

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  • REVIEWS

    Anarcho—Utopia Revisited

    Because a man owns himself, the late Austrian economist Murray Rothbard said, he may do anything to himself he wishes (thus suicide and abortion are not moral abominations), but he may do no physical violence to, or steal from, another. I...

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  • REVIEWS

    Always Something to Say

    There are very few neoconservatives, people disagree on who they are, and they have no popular following or definite organizational structure. Even so, they have deeply affected American public life for 40 years.

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  • REVIEWS

    View From the Left Bank

    After the Great War, Sylvia Beach founded, with money from her mother, Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop and lending library on the Left Bank in Paris. As the American expatriate wrote much later, “I have always loved books...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Grand Missed Steak

    Professor Stauber is not the first man I ever heard of who has suggested that the American Revolution was a mistake. Sigmund Freud thought that America herself was a mistake and made no distinction about the Revolution, but then he was a...

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