The Iceberg Cometh

Throughout the Introduction and into the first chapter of Ship of Fools you seem to be seated before a television screen listening to, and watching, Tucker Carlson in his nightly broadcast.  The voice is the same, the tone is the same; so is the manner.  Then, almost imperceptibly, you find yourself slipping—or rather being slipped—from one medium to another until you realize you are reading a formally developed and exceedingly well-researched book whose thesis is succinctly and memorably stated on the first page of Chapter Three, entitled “Foolish Wars.”

One thing that every late-stage ruling class has in common is a high tolerance for mediocrity.  Standards decline, the edges fray, but nobody in charge seems to notice.  They’re happy in their sinecures and getting richer.  In a culture like this, there’s no penalty for being wrong.  The talentless prosper, rising inexorably toward positions of greater power, and breaking things along the way.  It happened to the Ottomans.  Max Boot is living proof that it’s happening in America.

I should not have begun this review by discussing what Carlson has to say about the American establishment’s fatal proclivities for military adventurism had the author not placed the succinct passage quoted above where he did in the book.  So continue with Boot who, Carlson informs...

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