Chronicles Magazine Book Review

Impeachment, Just and Unjust

What exactly did the framers mean by putting in the Constitution Article II, Section 4? This is the section that reads, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for,...

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    Republic of War

    For a pacific, commercial republic protected by two giant oceans and two peaceful neighbors with small militaries, America sure has fought a lot of wars. Michael Beschloss’s Presidents of War details eight American leaders beginning in 1807 who...

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    We Ought to Like Ike

    As a second-year West Point cadet in March 1969, I was returning to my room after chemistry class midafternoon on a Friday. As I stepped inside Pershing Barracks, I saw a number of cadets huddled around a note posted on the stairway railing.

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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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    Books in Brief

    In this second volume of the Age of the French Revolution series, first published in 1978, Manceron explores the influence on Europe of both American democratic thought and politics during the American Revolution and early nationalist periods.

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    The Long Apocalypse

    Today, a century after the close of the “war to end all wars,” the prospect of achieving what the U.N. and other such garrulous bodies call “global peace” seems ever more remote.

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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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    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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    Out of Troy

    Author of several novels and a memorable autobiographical work entitled Our Father’s Fields (1998), as well as a leading light of the Abbeville Institute, James Kibler has produced in the present work an indispensable study of the classical...

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    The Managerial Racket

    Life in America these days has become a vast numbers racket. That is, most Americans are, cannily or not, ensnared in the numbers game called metrics, or what Jerry Muller in his latest book terms the “metrics fixation.”

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    All About Trump

    Today, all books by liberals really are about President Trump. Such is Playing With Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics, by MSNBC far-left fake-news host Lawrence O’Donnell.

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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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    The Court in Quandary

    When the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s preliminary injunction against President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from certain countries, it cited Trump’s statements about Islam as its rationale.

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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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    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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    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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    Books in Brief

    The author of this engaging, highly interesting, and extremely well-written book is senior fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian at the Roosevelt Institute, in addition to holding academic professorships at both Marist and Bard College.

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    Drain the Racket

    When Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was first passed, “help wanted: men” and “help wanted: women” ads were common in newspapers. Private employers could hire and fire for discriminatory reasons.

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Books in Brief

    This book continues the arguments historians have made over the past three decades that challenge the long-received and -accepted view of the Habsburg Empire as an anachronism among European states in the 19th century.

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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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    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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    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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    The Idolatrous Empire

    Historians of our day have long debated whether ideas or interests are the prime drivers of human decisions. The Hegelian school, which includes neoconservatives and neoliberals, believes the answer is ideas—freedom, democracy, and equality.

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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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    What the Hell Is Going On?

    On December 7, 2015—Pearl Harbor Day—candidate Donald Trump called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

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    Books in Brief

    This superb and marvelously readable work of social and political history, drawn from a wide variety of personal and official documents and records, recounts the first weeks of World War I as they were experienced by the French people, the French...

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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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    Books in Brief

    After the first hundred pages or so, I found I had to put the book aside for a couple of days before reading on. "Somme" is, without a doubt, the most harrowing war account I have ever read, including Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy.

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    The Empire Strikes Back

    This is a brilliant and disturbing book. Its opening sentence is “Europe is doomed.” If you think that this is simply colorful rhetoric, read on. Hasta la Vista Europe is not alarmist; it is alarming, making its case in great detail ranging...

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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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    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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    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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    Easy Sell

    Twice a finalist for the Pulitzer, H.W. Brands, in "Reagan: The Life", describes the 40th president as a conservative Franklin Roosevelt. What Roosevelt was to the “first half of the twentieth century, Reagan was to the second half.”

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    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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    Between Fear and Conceit

    H.M. Maisky was the Soviet ambassador to Britain from 1932 to 1943. In June 1943 Stalin ordered him to quit London. After returning to Moscow, Maisky was posted henceforth to unimportant positions.

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    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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    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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    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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    A Christian Humanist

    Having access to personal correspondence and other private papers is every biographer’s dream, a potential difference between a decent biography and a great biography. In the case of Russell Kirk, the advantage was huge.

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    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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    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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    Religion Is Always There

    The varied and complex relations between religion and power can be understood only by means of extensive comparisons, between nations and across time. Who better to demonstrate this than Prof. David Martin, the doyen of the comparative sociology...

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    Flame of Hope

    The 21st century has not so far been a happy time for American conservatives. It began with an appalling terrorist attack whose key perpetrators had taken advantage of our government’s insouciance toward mass immigration from the Third World.

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    Remembering Moynihan

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the most substantial intellectual to reach high political office in the United States since Woodrow Wilson. Thus his life, writings, policy deliberations, and political efforts, and the effects of these, deserve the...

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    Truth in Poetry

    Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79) is considered to be among the most important American poets of the 20th century. She was a U.S. Poet Laureate and won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and the Neustadt International Prize.

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    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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    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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    Two Experiments

    It is a commonplace among American conservatives that, at some point in the past, the way Americans understood their constitutional and cultural tradition diverged from the reality of the constitutional order established in 1787.

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    Come Home, America

    Washington and Brussels were surprised by the Kremlin’s strong reaction to the ousting of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February of last year. They shouldn’t have been.

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Nothing to Regret

    Soumission naturally invites comparison with Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints, published in the early 70’s, but the comparison holds only so far as the subject of Muslim aggression against the West goes; the literary treatment...

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    The Great American Disintegration

    When a former colleague sent me a snippet from The New Yorker of September 22, 2014—a piece called “As Big As the Ritz,” by Adam Gopnik—the attention therein given to two recent books on F. Scott Fitzgerald caught my eye, not only...

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    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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    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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    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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  • 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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  • 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

    The Fruits of Fraud

    The worst thing about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 legalization of abortion in all 50 states and U.S. territories has not been the 55 million—and counting—dead babies, as horrible as that has been, but the damage it has caused to the rule of...

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  • REVIEWS

    Unshattered

    Admittedly, I approached Amanda Bell with a degree of caution. I am, to say the least, wary of fiction, especially fiction centered around a female protagonist who is on a path of self-understanding and realization.

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  • REVIEWS

    His Land, His People

    “Dickinson was, in truth,” writes William Murchison, "as much philosopher as writer, a man to whom God had imparted the gifts not merely of expression but also of examination and reflection. Among the large fraternity active in the cause of...

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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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  • 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

    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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  • 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

    Targets Are Where You Find 'Em!

    To put this volume in perspective, we have to know that the cartoonist was a young amateur who actually considered making a career of the art, but was then drawn to another mode of expression—one which transcended, perhaps, her cartoons, but...

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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

    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

    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 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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  • 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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  • REVIEWS

    An Epic Bogosity

    The standard histories of English literature give Edmund Spenser top-drawer ranking with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, and there is no denying the power of his idiosyncratic style at its best or his appeal to other poets with epic ambitions. ...

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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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  • 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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  • REVIEWS

    A Study in Courage

    As with her previous biography, Susan Hertog is concerned with her subjects as icons of feminism, with their efforts to balance (or not balance) their careers with the traditional requirements of “piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity.”

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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

    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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  • 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

    The End of Education

    “Crazy U?” Or “Crazy Me?” A self-deprecating Andrew Ferguson must at least have been tempted by such a title. His self-absorbed son (and what 17-year-old isn’t?) would surely have agreed, had he been remotely aware of the grief that the whole...

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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

    Gabriel's Horn

    Surely, no American city has endured such a history of disaster as Charleston, set beguilingly beside the Atlantic upon her fragile spit of earth between the Ashley and Cooper rivers.

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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

    Stumbling Past the Tree

    This is a solid and sensible biography, but it is not a scintillating one. I have the impression that Adam Sisman is a little wary of his subject; he indicates respect for Hugh Trevor-Roper, but not affection. Yet without personal warmth to...

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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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  • REVIEWS

    An Unfinished Story

    Srdja Trifkovic is no stranger to Chronicles readers, many of whom have found his articles commenting on foreign affairs, with particular attention to the Balkans, to be insightful, penetrating, and written with authority. His latest...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Legend for Our Time

    In the spring of 88 b.c., dozens of cities across Asia Minor united in a secret plot to kill all the Romans and Italic peoples—man, woman, and child—in their territories. How the plot was kept secret remains unknown, but the massacre was carried...

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  • Correspondence

    The Quest for Certitude

    I must thank you sincerely for your extremely thoughtful gift of Saturday by British novelist Ian McEwan. I have read the book with great interest and enjoyment. What is more, it has sent me back to “Dover Beach,” which it uses so...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Creaturely Myth

    There is—there must be–all the difference in the world between an autobiography and a novel written in the first person. Are we clear? Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History, for example, has much in common with Charles Dickens’ David...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Path to Modernity

    The Hobbesian mayhem that struck Europe in the first half of the 17th century was not an event, or a series of events, befitting the designation of a war. The plural form, as in the Napoleonic Wars, would be more apt.

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  • REVIEWS

    Sympathetic Magic

    America is regarded, and regards herself, as a “can-do” country where almost anything is achievable, and everyone can aspire to “the American dream.” As Ehrenreich states, “In the well-worn stereotype, we are upbeat, cheerful, optimistic, and...

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  • REVIEWS

    Falling Apart

    North-central Idahois rugged can­yon, mountain, and ranch country. Its dominant culture is that of the British and American borderlands. Its people are descendants of 19th-century pioneers and homesteaders (some of them Missouri Confederates...

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  • REVIEWS

    Who Won the Cold War?

    David Priestland reviews the history of what he calls the “Promethean” and “utopian” communist movement in The Red Flag. The book is engaging, but frustrating in its failure to elaborate a theme that remains an undercurrent: man’s desire...

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  • REVIEWS

    Chorus Lines

    The catastrophic burst of the housing bubble in the fall of 2008 shook the foundations of the world economy and instilled a fear of a new depression. Morris Dickstein notes with irony that he completed his cultural history of the Great...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Logic of the Map

    Soon after his election in 1844, James K. Polk sat down with the historian George Bancroft and, before offering him the Cabinet post of secretary of the Navy, sketched the four objectives of his presidency.

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  • REVIEWS

    Mystery Tour

    Larry Johnson’s first book of poems, Veins, promises an engagement with history and tradition that is respectful, lively, and current. Open to any page at random, and you will find examples of real language handled by a poet who obviously...

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  • REVIEWS

    Unknown Soldiers

    Thomas Carlyle wrote that “History is the essence of innumerable Biographies.” While that description does not cover all the duties of historianship, it is true in an important sense.

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  • REVIEWS

    Parallel Lives

    Nicholas Thompson, the grandson of Paul Nitze, chose to write a biography of his grandfather, but with a restriction. Thompson thought it best to describe and compare his grandfather’s public career together with that of another public...

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  • REVIEWS

    Gobbling Poison

    Throughout recorded history, rites open to the initiated only have been performed in restricted sanctuaries; this not only provides a feeling of superiority to the participants but allows outsiders to indulge in endless speculation about “what...

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  • REVIEWS

    Prometheus Unbound

    This volume, belonging to the Iowa Whitman Series, is identified as “the 150th Anniversary Facsimile Edition” of Leaves of Grass, third edition (1860). Originally issued in 1855, at the author’s expense, the collection was revised and...

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  • REVIEWS

    Brush the Distance

    Cath­arine Savage Brosman’s latest book, Breakwater, is a stimulating addition to her always intriguing poetic realm. The book is packed with superlative individual poems, and their cumulative effect strikes this reviewer as majestic.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Man of One Idea

    The Chief Culprit incorporates by reference, as a lawyer might say, the main argument of Icebreaker, putting it into the broader context of Soviet history. On Soviet history Suvorov is good, though it is not his forte, which is...

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  • REVIEWS

    Love Is a Decision

    Small-town America is dying, but not without help. According to Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas, it takes effort to leave your home, and small towns are doing a fantastic job of encouraging their best and brightest to do just that.

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  • REVIEWS

    One For the Road

    In the summer of 1956, a junior transport minister activated a green traffic light in the middle of a field in Lancashire. That was the signal for a bulldozer to flatten a hedge and start shifting soil.

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  • REVIEWS

    Dead Sea Drama

    Ever since Marshall McLuhan’s famous review of Northrop Frye’s Fearful Symmetry and Parker Tyler’s Magic and Myth of the Movies in 1947, Western intellectuals have felt obliged to mix traditional scholarship with themes from popular...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Sum of Contradictions

    In American Creation Joseph Ellis, a prominent scholar of the American Revolution known for his embrace of the Sally Hemings myth, shows how serendipitously the American founding actually unfolded, hardly in accordance with the godlike...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Huge and Healthy Pessimism

    In his splendidly sardonic Devil’s Dictionary, that old gringo Am­brose Bierce defines pessimism as “a philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his...

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  • REVIEWS

    Don't Worry, Be Happy

    Empire is a scattershot look at a variety of topics ranging from the porn industry to elite education. Chris Hedges believes that Americans have forsaken reality for a world of lies and empty entertainment.

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  • REVIEWS

    Populist Reveries

    Consider William Greiden's major theme: “Come home, America. Instead of trying to run the world, let us tend our own wounded society.” The advice is sound, but his expectation that “the people” will demand it be done is not.

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  • REVIEWS

    Waiting for Charles the Second

    “A state cannot be constituted from any chance body of persons, or in any chance period of time,” wrote Aristotle. “Most of the states which have admitted persons of another stock, either at the time of their foundation or later, have been...

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  • REVIEWS

    Ubuntu!

    William Murchison gets right to the point in his eloquent account of mainline Protestantism’s near-terminal degeneration, written poignantly from an Anglican’s perspective.

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  • REVIEWS

    At the Crossroads

    Up until now, Ayn Rand hasn’t had a biographer worthy of the name: only the memoirs of embittered ex-followers, or hagiographies written by devotees. Anne Heller’s Ayn Rand and the World She Made remedies that lack.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Body's Vest

    Here, beyond question, is a milestone in American poetry. Although the Neo-Formalist movement has existed now for two or more decades, even this school has produced a great many works that, while formally polished, remain empty at their core.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Duopolists

    The two major parties, as Judge Richard Posner writes, “exert virtually complete control over American government.” They are what economists call a duopoly. Does the duopoly do a reasonable job of presenting candidates the people want?

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  • REVIEWS

    Don’t Give Up the Ship

    From two until almost four o’clock on a sunny afternoon in June 1967, in the Eastern Mediterranean, Israeli jets and motor torpedo boats mercilessly pounded the virtually defenseless U.S.S. Liberty, killing 34 sailors, seriously wounding...

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  • REVIEWS

    Supernova

    In times of texting and sexting, Twittering and wittering, there is something positively antediluvian about epistolary collections—a whiff of fountain pens and headed notepaper, morocco-topped escritoires in long-windowed drawing rooms looking...

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  • REVIEWS

    Homogeneity Was Our Strength

    “Diversity enriches education,” then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama commented in a Q&A session with The Chronicle of Higher Education. Students should be “exposed to diversity in all its forms,” and affirmative action is the vehicle...

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  • REVIEWS

    Kultur Ohne Gott

    I began this novel, set in Germany between the two world wars, after watching Valkyrie. I found the film both shallow and grandiose, dominated by clicking heels and clashing chords; the choice of Tom Cruise to play Claus von Stauffenberg...

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  • REVIEWS

    An American Prophet

    A half-dozen biographical essays or theses have now been written on George Kennan, including John Lukacs’s recent and compelling George Kennan: A Study of Character (2007). This latest endeavor, by Lee Congdon, is an effort to assess...

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  • REVIEWS

    Wallow in the Mire

    One of the less appreciated perils of literary fame is the risk a writer runs every hundred years as the anniversary of his birthday approaches. This year marks the 200th birthday not only of Darwin but of Lincoln, a completely irrelevant...

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  • REVIEWS

    Freedom and Action

    In this rich and dense book, Michael Allen Gillespie is self-consciously trying to correct the “standard” understanding of the origin of modernity. Rather than being the “victory of secularism,” modernity, he says, is a series of attempts to...

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  • REVIEWS

    Decline and Fall

    There are few books I have read in recent years that I can more heartily recommend to Chronicles readers than Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline, the latest collection of essays by British physician...

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  • REVIEWS

    “The One”

    Barack Obama has risen to the highest office in the land on a thin résumé—a pair of Ivy League degrees, some time spent as a “community organizer,” and short periods in the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Senate. And then there are the books.

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  • REVIEWS

    Unnatural Causes

    “For me,” wrote P.D. James in her “fragment of autobiography,” Time To Be in Earnest, “one of the fascinations of detective fiction is the exploration of character under the revealing trauma of murder inquiry.”

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  • REVIEWS

    A Measured But Practical Hope

    Savor that felicitous prose. It is a sample of what awaits those who read James Kalb’s The Tyranny of Lib-eralism, 289 pages of text followed by ample documentation and references. Kalb says what many of us have not been quite able to...

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  • REVIEWS

    Revision in Deadpan

    Charles Glass, who lives in London, is an old friend of mine. He is, moreover, a member of White’s; a witty conversationalist; an American with impeccable manners; immaculate, if slightly Brooks Brothers conservative, in his dress; and almost...

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  • REVIEWS

    Once More With Feeling

    This volume has provoked in this correspondent a number of Yogi Berra moments—it’s been déjà vu all over again, and for more than one reason. Why, then, am I seized with such a pleasant vertigo? Let me count the ways!

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  • REVIEWS

    Real Causes

    Ask any trendy student of history today and he will tell you that, without question, the cause of the great American bloodletting of 1861–65 was slavery. Slavery and nothing but slavery.

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  • REVIEWS

    Never Paranoid Enough

    “Trust no one.” The landmark TV series The X-Files used that catchphrase in depicting a world riven with conspiracies that reach to the highest levels of the U.S. government. Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, the fictional FBI agents who...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Empire Is Naked

    After the Last Man is a short and dense book, consisting of a series of vignettes (excursus) ranging from a paragraph to a few pages in length on the contemporary technological system. Each excursus is followed by a few lines that point...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Reduction of Certainty

    One should begin a review with a summation of a book and then of its author. The reverse is warranted in this case. James Grant is an extraordinary American, a financial expert whose mind is enriched by his knowledge of history.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Right Fork

    The chronological niche which the generation of D.J. Taylor’s title occupies, 1918-40, will be remembered by future historians—if, indeed, there should be any such creatures among the oafish homunculi now incubating in the totalitarian crucibles...

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  • REVIEWS

    Infelix Culpa?

    Kingsley Amis called him “Grim Grin,” an apt name for a novelist who aggressively insisted that the path to God runs through the wilderness of lust, degradation, deceit, and betrayal.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Puzzle of France

    Robert Gildea, professor of modern history at Oxford, is the author of some half-dozen volumes dealing with France after 1800 or, in one case, Europe as a whole. Most are broad studies or learned surveys (the terms are not intended as...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Moral Temper

    Fr. James Pereiro’s new history of the Victorian Church examines a much-neglected element of the Oxford Movement’s central tenets. Ethos, he contends, was the key component in the development of a complex theory of knowledge that...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Way of the World

    In his essay on “self-reliance,” Emerson wrote that “travelling is a fool’s paradise.” He was referring to those who travel to escape the boredom or sadness of their lives, and who hope to return home somehow transformed.

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  • REVIEWS

    Scholarly Pornography

    In January 2005, one of the premier scholarly publishers in the English language, Princeton University Press, published an 80-page pamphlet in book form called On Bullsh-t, by a well-respected philosopher, Harry G. Frankfurt, who had...

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  • REVIEWS

    St. Elmo’s Pay

    When news of Lepanto arrived in Rome, the Pope exclaimed, “Now Lord, you can take your servant, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” The battle’s outcome gratified the pontiff, but it may not have surprised him.

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  • REVIEWS

    Diplomacy Before the Fall

    The first two sentences of this fine book tell it all. “This is a text for our times. It is a celebration of diplomacy and diplomats—of an essentially extinct profession.” I shall return to this summa summa rum; but first, here is my...

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  • REVIEWS

    Il Whig in Italia

    Some years ago I was interviewed by a reporter for Corriere della Sera, Italy’s most prestigious newspaper. He had heard that I was a follower of Umberto Bossi, leader of the secessionist Lega Nord, and he wanted to know what plans I had...

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  • REVIEWS

    Homage To a Friend

    Years ago, when a Vanderbilt graduate-school party was careening toward promiscuity, a quiet young woman, an English major, suddenly shocked everyone by saying, “Tell you what let’s do: Let’s all name the books we’ve never read.”

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  • REVIEWS

    Homeric Lessons

    “Should one have lived, only to read the twenty-third song of the Iliad, he could not lament of his existence,” commented G.E. Lessing. Of course, in Lessing's day, many of the literati could have read the Iliad in Greek.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Smoke of Satan

    Before Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church appeared to be a fortress against the raging tide of modernity, a supremely self-confident institution that attracted converts of the caliber of Evelyn Waugh, G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, and...

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  • REVIEWS

    Strippers to the Rescue

    In what was probably the most laudable achievement of his administration, President George W. Bush placed on the Supreme Court two justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who believe that judges are not supposed...

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  • REVIEWS

    Tales From the Dark Side

    Raimondo’s book focuses on the men and women who opposed both the New Deal and America’s entry into World War II, while Lowndes charts how former Dixiecrats were assiduously courted by an earlier incarnation of National Review and helped Barry...

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  • REVIEWS

    Caesar on His Own

    “The Republic is nothing, a mere name without form or substance,” Julius Caesar allegedly stated. The sentiment, certainly, was validated by the end of Caesar’s life, which marked the transition from an imperial republic to an empire eclipsing...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Republic of Speculators

    The long-suffering and largely ignored paleoconservatives might be forgiven for taking some satisfaction in the recent bursting of so many bubbles of avarice and pride, the sudden exposure of so many highly leveraged speculations in stupidity.

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  • REVIEWS

    Man on Holiday

    John G. West’s primary thesis in Darwin Day in America is that our culture and politics have been dehumanized by a scientific materialism (or reductionism) that sees man merely as the sum of his parts, and that this dogma has taken over the...

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  • REVIEWS

    Desperado

    The Western setting of this closely focused narrative is a confirmation of the author’s identification with a region, as we know from his Western novels Desert Light and The Homestead and other nonfictional books relating to the West and to the...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Burden of History

    Peter Green is one of the rarest birds in the academic chicken coop, a popular historian who combines careful scholarship and original opinions into a coherent account that respects its sources and yet attempts to go beyond them.

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  • REVIEWS

    True—or New?

    “It’s not you, it’s me” has become a popular phrase with which to terminate a romantic relationship. It is considered a more polite and, above all, more sensitive way of saying good riddance to an unwanted suitor than rehearsing whatever...

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  • REVIEWS

    Think Again

    Barack Obama will have chosen his running mate by the time this review reaches readers. At the time of writing there has been some speculation that James Webb, the maverick new Democratic senator from Virginia, might be Obama’s choice.

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  • REVIEWS

    Mystery and (Polack) Manners

    In “The Shadow Players,” one of 12 stories in Anthony Bukoski’s most recent collection, Lance Corporal Pete Dziedzic returns to his childhood home in Superior, Wisconsin, after a four-year tour of duty in Vietnam. The year is 1967.

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  • REVIEWS

    G.K. Chesterton, Peacemaker

    G.K. Chesterton’s writings are as prescient today as they were over three quarters of a century ago. When he wrote most of the essays in this anthology during the early 20th century, he was either warning Great Britain about the impending...

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  • VIEWS

    The Dean of Western Historians

    It is usually difficult to choose only one author who is essential to the study of a particular subject. When it comes to the history of the frontier West, however, the choice is easy. Ray Allen Billington stands alone above all.

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  • REVIEWS

    How Posner Thinks

    American judges do not, Richard Posner argues, always do what most Americans, and most American judges, believe they do: that is, apply the Constitution, statute law, and precedent to the facts brought before them, and thus settle cases with full...

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  • REVIEWS

    Perspectives on RPW

    The late Mark Winchell’s recently published Robert Penn Warren: Genius Loves Company is a collection of essays focusing on Warren’s close associations and literary affinities.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Perfect Republic

    Augustin Cochin (1876-1916), a French historian little known today, sought to provide a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of the French Revolution with an eye to discovering the reasons for the terror and butchery that arose in its course.

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  • REVIEWS

    Kennedy Catholicism

    The indifference of Catholic elected officials to Church teachings is so common that it rarely attracts attention, but there are occasional exceptions. When at least five fervently pro-abortion politicians took Communion at papal Masses this...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Forgotten Ideology

    Modern American conservatism has been marked by a fascination with ideology. Despite arguments that conservatism is not an ideology or is opposed to all ideology, American conservatives have regularly attempted to systematize their own beliefs.

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  • REVIEWS

    Blood on the Keys

    The Technicolor splatter of blood on the keys in the corny movie A Song to Remember (1945) is a vulgar incarnation of a romantic image of obsessed genius. That image has perhaps more authenticity than a few might suppose, for in the shot,...

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  • REVIEWS

    Towers of Babel

    While Pierre Manent’s Democ­racy Without Nations? concerns itself principally with the erosion of national sovereignty in Europe, American readers will find that Manent raises questions about the fragile bond between nationality and...

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  • REVIEWS

    The Kingfish of Caracas

    Venezuela, once the beauty queen of Latin American democracies, has lost her good looks. Today, the oil-rich country is more often compared with communist Cuba than with democratic Costa Rica.

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  • REVIEWS

    Print Lives!

    The first thing one notices about Print Is Dead is that it is, in fact, a stack of bound pieces of paper with words printed on them. The author, Jeff Gomez, notes the irony of this in his Introduction.

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  • REVIEWS

    Instaurare!

    On being taken to Mass in the underground basilica at Lourdes, the late Msgr. Alfred Gilbey, that most courteous of men, was moved to comment, “It reminds me of nothing so much as a Nazi rally.”

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  • REVIEWS

    Prejudice Made Plausible

    The “prejudice against prejudice,” as Theodore Dalrymple ironically terms it, has become so culturally pervasive that many—perhaps most—people are completely unaware that the term has not always been exclusively pejorative.

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  • REVIEWS

    Robert Frost: The Definitive Work

    During much of the 20th century, Robert Frost was widely regarded as our greatest living poet. Yet the Frost poems that students used to read in college English classes were those more easily accessible: “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” “Stopping by...

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  • REVIEWS

    Mann of the West

    An established authority on film, Professor Basinger has updated her monograph on the films of Anthony Mann for good reason. Not only has her original edition of 1979 long been out of print, it has been in much demand.

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  • REVIEWS

    After the Deluge

    It should be obvious to anyone who has taken the slightest trouble to examine the immigration question that America is faced not with an immigration “problem,” or even a “crisis,” but with a massive demographic invasion that, if not soon...

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  • REVIEWS

    A Self-Made (Mad)man

    By now, it should be clear to all but the most loyal Republicans that the government of the United States is controlled by madmen. In the beginning, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney seemed comparatively normal; their first few months in office...

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  • REVIEWS

    “Here—This Is it!”

    In the Catholic Church, apologetics—explaining the Faith—was on its way to becoming a lost art during the post-Vatican II era. But thanks to Mother Angelica’s efforts on EWTN and the many classic publications emanating from Ignatius...

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  • REVIEWS

    He Got Them First

    Joe McCarthy, a Catholic poor-boy-made-good from Middle America, a guy most Americans instinctively rooted for, called out our progressives on their ordering of the world in favor of what, by 1950 or so, was clearly the Other Side.

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  • REVIEWS

    A Spy Thriller to the Wise

    It is almost inevitable that a reader of my interests and disposition should slightly miss the point of this book, described in a Daily Express blurb as “a good spy thriller,” and that is precisely what I propose to do.

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  • REVIEWS

    Atheism

    Strange as it may sound, one of the best antidotes to the angry atheism of such disaffected Britons as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins is the recent science-fiction novel Eifelheim by Michael Flynn.

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  • REVIEWS

    A New Agrarian Primer

    Most people think agrarianism is synonymous with farming. As a result, agrarian thinkers spend much of their time defending what they really mean—namely, that agrarianism is not so much about agriculture as it is an integrated life in which...

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  • REVIEWS

    No No Gambling

    Was it a famed pre-Socratic philosopher or was it Mae West who declared that the way down and the way up are the same? Whoever said it first sure got that right.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Skin of Their Teeth

    John Ferling, professor emeritus from the University of West Georgia and author of several other books on politics and political figures in the Revolutionary and New Nation eras, has produced a work of mature scholarship that reflects a lifetime...

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