Author: H. A. Scott Trask (H. A. Scott Trask)

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Remembering George Santayana
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Remembering George Santayana

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It would not surprise George Santayana (1863-1952) that his most famous aphorism is all he is remembered for, nor that it has become almost a cliché, nor that the Americans, whom he knew so well, would consider that they had heeded his lesson by...

The Great Debate: Lincoln’s Legacy
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The Great Debate: Lincoln’s Legacy

The year 1975, for those of us old enough to remember, was a calm and quiet time in the United States. The Vietnam War and Watergate were both over, the riots and protests had ceased, and everybody liked our presiding nonpartisan president, who shared the name of America’s most iconic car company. The music was...

The War of Nihilisms
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The War of Nihilisms

The first English translation of Ernst Jünger’s journals from the Second World War is a cause for celebration. The journals were like treasures stashed away in an old castle, behind a door that could be unlocked only if one learned to read German. It’s open now, and what’s inside are literary gems on every page....

The Fatherland and the Nation
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The Fatherland and the Nation

Embracing both, and rejecting the United States of Now. Allen Tate, in 1952, argued that the first duty of the man of letters in the postwar world was to purify the language from the corruptions introduced by ideology and the destruction, more than physical, wrought by the recent world war.  He was not the only...

Obsession!
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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 unthinkable would happen.  Rather I refer to her 2011 book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob...

A Sentimental Education
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A Sentimental Education

From the October 2011 issue of Chronicles. Many Americans probably think that the Pledge of Allegiance dates to the time of the American Revolution, but it was written more than a century later, in 1892.  They might be shocked to learn that it was written by a Christian socialist, and the sanctifying words “under God”...

Muslim Migrants and the Religious Left
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Muslim Migrants and the Religious Left

Why are so many Western Christians either silent about, or actually complicit in, the Muslim hegira to the West?  One would think Christians would be at the forefront of opposition.  Some are, but most are not, and these latter include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, mainline “Protestants,” and evangelicals in America.  These churches have made four...

Choose Your Side
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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 text.  It was taken in 1990 while Obama was at Harvard Law School, three years...

The Idolatrous Empire
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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.  Marxists say material interests alone.  We may dismiss both groups as crude simplifiers.  What’s more, the debate ignores what from a...

Mr. Trump and His Gorilla
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Mr. Trump and His Gorilla

Who would have thought that, 20 years after Pat Buchanan’s failed presidential bid, a billionaire New York real-estate developer and reality-television star would win the Republican presidential nomination running on the same issues Buchanan campaigned on in 1996, and with the same unifying theme of putting America (and Americans) first?  Yet it has happened.  Not...

The Mexicanization of North America
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The Mexicanization of North America

For nearly 200 years the United States and Mexico coexisted as a series of antonyms separated by a desert.  The United States was prosperous and free.  Mexico was poor and despotic.  For a time, the United States was the preeminent middle-class society.  Mexico has been a society of extremes.  For most Americans, Mexico was a...

American Samizdat
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American Samizdat

John Derbyshire is among the most prominent and prolific of writers of the paleo or nationalist right.  I think of him as a Tory, and his writing as Swiftian.  Some readers of this magazine are likely regular readers of his online essays, a selection of which, all culled from the year 2013, have been reprinted...

Empire of Nihilism
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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 disastrously.  Not only is nothing better over there, but everything is worse over here, the home of the not-so-brave and ever-less-free.  Every...

Getting Nixon Right
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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.  On election night, the electoral map was covered in a sea of blue (in those days each party retained its appropriate...

How Not to Succeed in Washington
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How Not to Succeed in Washington

When I was younger and precociously interested in politics (I subscribed to National Review and looked forward to Firing Line every Sunday), I knew who George Kennan was.  He was the brilliant author of the Containment Doctrine who had later gone soft on communism and become a liberal.  If someone had told me, “No, it...

A Corrupt Bargain
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A Corrupt Bargain

Careful readers have long suspected that the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” was about something more sinister than bureaucratic ineptitude and Department of Justice stonewalling.  The ATF allowed arms dealers in Arizona and New Mexico to sell weapons to individuals working for Mexican drug cartels in order, the DOJ claimed, to trace the movement of...

End Game
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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 management that its ideas and policies are all wrong? The answer is provided by...

The End of the Trail
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The End of the Trail

“What am I doing here?”  That was not the question that Paul Theroux expected to be asking himself not long after he returned to his beloved Africa and exclaimed that he was “happy again.”  His last African journey, chronicled in Dark Star Safari (2003), was south by land from Cairo to Cape Town.  This time,...

In God We Fail
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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.  In the 1990’s an occasional newspaper article appeared about the League of the South or the Vermont independence movement, treating them as...

A People’s Worst Enemy
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A People’s Worst Enemy

John Lukacs saw it as the great chasm dividing two centuries.  George F. Kennan called it “the great seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century.” 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...

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Immigration Arch

Browsers of our metropolitan dailies are well aware of these papers’ attempt at rebranding our national holidays.  Thanksgiving has become Immigration Day, and so has the Fourth of July.  But, as we should have learned by now, it can get worse.  Readers of the editorial page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (founded in 1878 by...

Beware of Mexicans Bearing Drugs
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Beware of Mexicans Bearing Drugs

What is the Mexican drug war but a parable for our times?  Here is the blighted and poisoned fruit of the very policies that our rulers promised us would bring growth and development, prosperity and peace, justice and the rule of law to the whole world.  Those policies were free trade, unregulated capital and labor...

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Immoral Triumphs

Clyde Wilson once remarked that, if one were to distill multiculturalism to its essence, one would be left with nothing at all.  As he put it, multiculturalism means many fashions, mutable and discardable, but no culture.  An unintentional corroboration comes from a recent article dismissing “declinism” in our northeastern magazine of empire, The New Yorker. ...

A Sentimental Education
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A Sentimental Education

Many Americans probably think that the Pledge of Allegiance dates to the time of the American Revolution, but it was written more than a century later, in 1892.  They might be shocked to learn that it was written by a Christian socialist, and the sanctifying words “under God” were not added until 1954.  But they...

The Whale in Times Square
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The Whale in Times Square

It is the contention of William McGowan that the once august New York Times, our “newspaper of record” (for lack of an alternative), has become a politically correct sheet.  He blames the nepotistic reign of Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who inherited the publishing mantle in 1991 upon the retirement of his legendary father, Arthur O. “Punch”...

The Elusive Conflict
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The Elusive Conflict

Of the making of Civil War books there shall be no end.  There are so many, most of which cover the same bloody ground in much the same slogging way, without any new insight or contribution.  To make matters worse, American historians have rewritten the war as a simplistic moral melodrama between the forces of...

The Coming North American Order
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The Coming North American Order

Most of what we see and read from the government and its media organs are variations on a tired but persistent theme of irreversible progress toward utopia.  (William Pfaff has a new book arguing that secular utopianism, even more than war profiteering or career advancement, is what drives U.S. foreign policy, making it impervious to...

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Pay No Attention

A recent article in USA Today (“Mexico’s Violence Not Widespread,” August 4) could serve as a case study in why Mexican journalists consider their North American counterparts “hopeless” when it comes to accurate reporting on their country. The article pretends to correct the public misperception that Mexico on a whole is a dangerous and violent...

Falling Apart
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Falling Apart

North-central Idaho is 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 who went west after the war).  They are fiercely individualistic, but they also take care of one another.  They know how to...

The Logic of the Map
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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.  They were to lower the tariff, restore the independent treasury system, extend American sovereignty over the vast Oregon Country (claimed...

Populist Reveries
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Populist Reveries

Mr. Greider is a hopeful man.  Although he believes the United States is in deep trouble, “deeper than many people suppose and the authorities want to acknowledge,” he also believes the country is on the cusp of a second populist uprising, which will force elites to confront the perils of globalism, militarism, economic inequality, ecological...

The Way of the World
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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.  Yet we may add those who travel to boast (“Look, here I am at the Parthenon!” or “I...

Cosmopolitan Nation
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Cosmopolitan Nation

The search for and, when it cannot be found, the construction of a usable past remains the overriding task of our official historians, who believe that we are forever on the cusp of a new age.  The opposite could be said of Thucydides, who sought “an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to...

A Republic of Speculators
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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.  Let us recount some of the failed millennial assertions by the ruling party: that history has come to an...

The Best Government Money Can Buy
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The Best Government Money Can Buy

All of our history is now “indoctrination by historical example.”  The academicians who write the officially approved, politically correct distortions of it have failed history, and us.  They are of two types: the courtiers, smiling sycophants such as “presidential historian” Michael Beschloss and the insufferable Doris Kearns Goodwin; and their envious colleagues, politically correct pedants,...

Horsemen, Draw Nigh!
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Horsemen, Draw Nigh!

The title of Chalmers Johnson’s latest book, the last in his trilogy of empire, invokes the Greek goddess of retribution.  He named the first book in his trilogy after the CIA term for the harmful unintended consequences that sometimes result from the agency’s covert policies.  “Blowback,” he wrote, “is but another way of saying that...

The Better Way
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The Better Way

The- Missouri Ozarks are the western outpost of Appalachia.  The hills are not as high as their elder brothers to the east, but they plunge down into narrow, labyrinthine valleys, where streams of cool, green water run.  The surrounding soil is mostly shallow and full of rocks, with open spaces so small that vegetable gardens...

The West on the Brink
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The West on the Brink

We do not hear much about the Armenian genocide of 1915.  Even less well known is the Turk’s expulsion of the Greeks of Western Anatolia and the Pontic coast in the years after World War I.  At Smyrna, Greek and Armenian Christians were literally driven into the sea or massacred.  Shockingly, nearly 20 British, French,...

The Point Left Unprotected
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The Point Left Unprotected

This book will surely be widely denounced.  Its merit, which is considerable, is suggested by the vast coalition who will want to deride it: the corporate elite, Republicans, Clinton Democrats, neoliberals, the politically correct lobby, libertarians, neocons.  Any author who can provoke such an array of enemies must be onto something. Walter Benn Michaels’ argument...

A Government We Deserve
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A Government We Deserve

“A democracy, when put to the strain, grows weak and is supplanted by oligarchy.” —Aristotle The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz New York: W.W. Norton; 1,004 pp., $35.00 To write a book about democracy, a word that functions today as little more than an advertising slogan, an author should first...

The Virginian
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The Virginian

To be published by a university press, one must demonstrate originality of scholarship.  In a forgetful age, that is not hard to do.  It is easier still when a constant rewriting of history is required to meet the ever-changing dictates of empire.  This latest biography of Edgar Allan Poe promises to emphasize “as never before”...

The Path Not Taken
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The Path Not Taken

McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union by Ethan S. Rafuse Bloomington: Indiana University Press; 525 pp., $35.00 Walt Whitman remarked after it was over that “the real war will never get in the books,” and, despite all the volumes that have been written since then, his prediction remains largely...

Antiwar Federalists
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Antiwar Federalists

The contrast between the importance of the subject of Richard Buel’s new book—New England’s defiance of federal authority during the years of commercial embargo and war with England—and the dullness and conventionality of the narrative reminds us that history is too important to be left to the current occupants of the academy. To enter the...

Surfing the Void
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Surfing the Void

There is a scene in Oliver Stone’s powerful and haunting antiwar film Born on the Fourth of July (1989), in which Ron Kovic’s mother is bending down before the television (this is B.R.—before the remote) and wincing.  It is the Fourth of July, 1969, and long-haired antiwar protesters are surging through the capital with angry...

Political Romanticism, Utopian Violence
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Political Romanticism, Utopian Violence

“This book tells a story about the twentieth century, which has in it a lesson for the twenty-first—one that I would think unlikely to be learned, since it is a moral lesson, concerning the role of virtue in human existence, and we know about moral lessons.”  Thus begins William Pfaff’s incisive and bracing study of...

Americans Before the Fall
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Americans Before the Fall

For those of us who love the Old Republic, a new book by David Hackett Fischer is a cause for celebration.  His newest will not disappoint the high expectations created by his previous work.  Washington’s Crossing is really a successor volume to Paul Revere’s Ride (1994), about the battles of Lexington and Concord and the...

Deep as Dante
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Deep as Dante

Brenda Wineapple’s new biography of the most brilliant flower of the New England Renaissance reminded me that it was time to reread Hawthorne.  She delineated the man very well, got his politics almost right, but barely did justice to his work. Writing in 1847, ten years after the publication of Hawthorne’s first collection of stories,...

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Shine, Republic

“It is by building our own strength and character at home—not by crusading abroad—that we can contribute most to civilization throughout the world.” —Col. Charles Lindbergh The America First Committee of 1940-41 was the largest antiwar organization (800,000 members) in American history.  Although it was founded by a group of Yale law students in the...

. . . plus c’est la même chose
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. . . plus c’est la même chose

Gavin Menzies, a retired British naval officer and submarine commander, has advanced a startling thesis.  He believes that, in 1421-23, a large Chinese fleet circumnavigated the world and skirted the continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica, and North America.  Before you dismiss his contention as the latest multicultural myth, like claiming black Africa as the...

Pax Americana
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Pax Americana

“America is not to be Rome or Britain.  It is to be America.” —Charles Beard William Kristol boasts that September 11 proves the neocons to have been prophets because, after the Cold War, they alone warned that the world had become a more dangerous place, not a safer one.  He and his crowd cite three...