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Cromwell’s Climb to Power
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Cromwell’s Climb to Power

From Ronald Hutton’s excellent book, we get not just history but the realization, in this desiccated age, that men such as Cromwell always emerge during great turmoil, rising as if from sown dragon’s teeth.

A Letter from ‘Smart America’
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A Letter from ‘Smart America’

In Last Best Hope, George Packer divides America into four categories of people, about half of whom he despises, and then proceeds to lament their incompatibility as a threat to democracy.

Mapping a Digital Dystopia
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Mapping a Digital Dystopia

In Atlas of AI, Kate Crawford explores the many ways our social structures are disturbingly affected by the rise of technocracy, from the environment to the workplace to corporate and governmental surveillance and data collection.

It’s Time to Break Up Amazon
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It’s Time to Break Up Amazon

Despite Jeff Bezos's libertarian ideology, Amazon has used governmental privilege to grow to a massive scale, and has had a disastrous effect on American life, as Alec MacGillis shows in Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America.

Threats? What Threats?
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Threats? What Threats?

In The Stupidity of War, John Mueller takes an absolutist position of noninterventionism in foreign policy. There is much to enjoy in this book, though that joy is tempered when one reads it while war rages in Ukraine.

Books in Brief: May 2022
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Books in Brief: May 2022

Reviews of Reclaiming Populism: How Economic Fairness Can Win Back Disenchanted Voters, by Eric Protzer and Paul Summerville, and BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution, by Mike Gonzalez

Labor Betrayed by the Progressive Left
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Labor Betrayed by the Progressive Left

The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America by Gabriel Winant Harvard University Press 368 pp., $35.00 Once upon a time, there were academic historians on whom the public could rely for help in accurately understanding the world in which we live. Scholars such as Samuel Eliot...

How Republican Supreme Court Justices Gave Us Affirmative Action
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How Republican Supreme Court Justices Gave Us Affirmative Action

A Dubious Expediency: How Race Preferences Damage Higher Education   ed. by Gail Heriot and Maimon Schwarzchild  Encounter Books 336 pp., $28.99   Scholars increasingly treat the issue of race with kid gloves. As the cancel culture accelerates, race—always a sensitive topic—has become nearly taboo. Any serious exploration of the correlation of intelligence and race is...

To Have and to Hold
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To Have and to Hold

Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives by Michael A. Heller and James Salzman  Doubleday 336 pp., $28.95   Aristotle’s observation that philosophy begins in wonder has, for many, conjured up an image of a curious child, bright-eyed and fascinated with the world around him. Similarly, in this book about the philosophical...

What We Are Reading: 3/1/2022
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What We Are Reading: 3/1/2022

This history of World War II should occupy an eminent position in any collection of studies on that conflict; it is a comprehensive treatment of its subject that stands head-and-shoulders above most of the stream of books issued since its publication in 1989. I reread it recently and have consulted it frequently. For many years, John Keegan...

Books in Brief: 3/1/2022
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Books in Brief: 3/1/2022

Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape, by Cal Flyn (Viking; 384 pp., $27.00). In our era of ecological angst, many are desperately seeking strategies to mitigate human damage, but Scottish writer Cal Flyn suggests a holistic new way—one that is simultaneously haunted and hopeful—of seeing these problems. She writes often in sorrow, sometimes in righteous...

Reader Letters: Diversity as a Weakness | Professor Janowski replies: | The Feminized Force | Tyrannical Tariffs
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Reader Letters: Diversity as a Weakness | Professor Janowski replies: | The Feminized Force | Tyrannical Tariffs

Professor Zbigniew Janowski, in his essay “Equality’s Third Wave,” (January 2022 Chronicles) has hit the nail on the head. Equality isn’t good enough, but equity and diversity should prevail. Quality and merit are gone; second-rate is now good enough. We have watered down our core values to the lowest common denominator! —Lynn Paskow Savits Aventura,...

Books in Brief: February 2022
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Books in Brief: February 2022

Christianity and Social Justice, by Jon Harris (Reformation Zion Publishing; 160 pp., $14.99). In this slim discussion of social justice and its relationship, or non-relationship, to Christianity, Jon Harris, a Protestant theologian and Baptist minister, addresses the topic long after he observed the “incursion made by the social justice movement” into the Baptist seminary where he...

Revisiting Suicide of the West
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Revisiting Suicide of the West

The philosopher and commentator James Burnham (1905-1987) was one of National Review’s founders and senior editors. Having broken with Trotskyism, he became one of those thinkers in the tradition of Edmund Burke and James Fitzjames Stephen, who, if not enthusiastic about modern democracy, were classic defenders of free institutions. He attained fame for his 1941...

‘Woke’ Evolution
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‘Woke’ Evolution

A Most Interesting Problem: What Darwin’s Descent of Man Got Right and Wrong about Human Evolution Ed. Jeremy DeSilva Princeton Universtiy Press 288 pp., $27.95 The complex debate about the place of Darwinian theory in discussions about humankind’s nature has been further complicated by an academic left that has taken up trashing Darwin—who is, after...

Doubting Thomas
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Doubting Thomas

Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell by Jason L. Riley  Basic Books 304 pp., $30   It is hardly surprising that an economist and historian of ideas who spent a long career arguing against the conventional wisdom of politicians and policy wonks would have a biography about him titled Maverick. It is much more surprising...

What We Are Reading: February 2022
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What We Are Reading: February 2022

What makes a great novelist? Genius—the ability to see connections hidden from most of us—obviously helps, but if great novels are great commentaries on the human condition, then living in a rich, stimulating, and challenging environment may also be essential.   A.N. Wilson’s brilliantly unorthodox literary biography of Iris Murdoch—perhaps the greatest novelist writing in...

Bibliotheca of the Bizarre
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Bibliotheca of the Bizarre

The Madman’s Library: The Strangest Books, Manuscripts and Other Literary Curiosities From History by Edward Brooke-Hitching Chronicle Books 256 pp., $29.95 Books are the “emblem of civilization,” Edward Brooke-Hitching writes in a new book that explores the strange history of the medium. The earliest books were used to establish and uphold administrative, legal, and taxation...

Driving Miss Racial Activist
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Driving Miss Racial Activist

At first blush, the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy seems innocuous. Its plot centers around the relationship of an aging Jewish matron, Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), and her black chauffeur Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman). Yet a recent rewatch caused me to notice irksome elements of the plot I missed the first time around. This has...

Books in Brief: January 2022
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Books in Brief: January 2022

Should We Stay or Should We Go: A Novel, by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins; 288 pp., $26.99). Who but the clinically insane would complain about the extended life expectancies in the Western world? We now expect modern science will teleport us to an earthly utopia, and the more time we spend there, the better. The global economy...

Fundamentalism on the Left
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Fundamentalism on the Left

Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us by Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro  Princeton University Press 336 pp., $29.95   Fundamentalism has long been considered a religious phenomenon, a narrowmindedness that only afflicts Bible-thumping extremists. Yet fundamentalist thinking is everywhere today, and leads naturally to the authoritarian mind and the one-party state....

The Tyranny of Violence
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The Tyranny of Violence

Much has been said and written about the growing divide in American society between left and right, including in the pages of this magazine. But there is another growing divide in this country that is arguably more urgent, one that transcends ideological differences. It is a fight between those who seek to preserve order and...

The Political Hijacking of Science
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The Political Hijacking of Science

Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America by Andrew Jewett  Harvard University Press 368 pp., $41.00   I came of age intellectually during the academic science wars of the 1990s. I was just beginning my dissertation when physicist Alan Sokal created a scandal for leftist postmodernist enemies of science by getting his...

What We Are Reading: January 2022
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What We Are Reading: January 2022

What makes a prince? Machiavelli had some ideas. “Above all he should do as some excellent man has done in the past who found someone to imitate who had been praised and glorified before him,” he wrote. “[One] whose exploits and actions he always kept beside himself, as they say Alexander the Great imitated Achilles;...

Imperfect Redemption
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Imperfect Redemption

  OLD HENRY (2021) Written and Directed by Potsy Ponciroli ◆ Produced by Michael Hagerty and Shannon Houchins ◆ Distributed by Shout! Studios The weight of the past so often looms large in the Western film genre. In classic films like The Gunfighter (1950), High Noon (1952), Ride the High Country (1962), or Unforgiven (1992), the plots...

Books in Brief: December 2021
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Books in Brief: December 2021

Enemies Among Us: The Relocation, Internment, and Repatriation of German, Italian, and Japanese Americans During the Second World War, by John E. Schmitz (University of Nebraska Press; 430 pp., $65.00). How can we possibly avoid history’s repetition when we don’t learn anything from it in the first place? For 50 years after World War II,...

What We Are Reading: December 2021
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What We Are Reading: December 2021

Milk cartons carry expiration dates. But, for obvious reasons, they don’t need them. History books don’t carry expiration dates. But, for less obvious reasons, they do need them. History books expire when archival discoveries supplant earlier narratives or when new interpretive theories emerge. Lucky for historical posterity, decades more will have to pass before Matt...

The Soul of the Claremont School
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The Soul of the Claremont School

The Soul of Politics: Harry V. Jaffa and the Fight for America by Glenn Ellmers Encounter Books 408 pp., $31.99 Glenn Ellmers, a former student of Harry V. Jaffa associated with the conservative Claremont school of thought, has produced an exhaustive study of his mentor. Ellmers has pored over Jaffa’s available writings, including a dozen...

Vive la New Right
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Vive la New Right

Guillaume Faye: Truths and Tributes by Pierre Krebs, Robert Steuckers, and Pierre-Émile Blairon Arktos Media 210 pp., $27.50 La puissance et la foi: Essais de théologie politique by Alain de Benoist PG de Roux 336 pp., EUR$39.00 I stumbled upon the writing of Alain de Benoist more than a quarter century ago as a graduate...

Death and the Christian Hero
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Death and the Christian Hero

Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living by Charles J. Chaput Henry Holt and Co. 272 pp., $25.99 “Death is common to us all,” goes the old adage. The subject of mortality is certainly pertinent, given the current “great plague,” against which safety is dispensed by way of the great fear. It...

The Sufferings of a Sculptor
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The Sufferings of a Sculptor

SIN (IL PECCATO) Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky ◆ Written by Andrei Konchalovsky and Elena Kiseleva ◆ Produced by Alisher Usmanov ◆ Distributed by Corinth Films Despite its potentially salacious title, Sin (Il peccato) is thankfully not another sordid tale about an artistic genius lured into fleshly temptations, having a crisis of faith, or battling with...

The Red Butcher
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The Red Butcher

Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II by Sean McMeekin Basic Books 864 pp., $40.00 This massive tome is more than a new history of World War II. It is above all a depressing confirmation that the crimes against humanity committed by Stalin’s regime, including during the war, were comparable to those of...

What We Are Reading: November 2021
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What We Are Reading: November 2021

The plot of the Woman of the Inner Sea may strike one as interesting for a children’s book: An Australian woman leaves Sydney incognito for the interior and makes friends with a kangaroo and an emu. But Thomas Keneally’s novel is for adults and contains a complex structure, a rich cast of characters, and nuanced...

Books in Brief: November 2021
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Books in Brief: November 2021

Klara and the Sun: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf; 320 pp., $28.00). A conservative disposition imposes costs but limits downside surprises. If you always expect rain, you have to lug your umbrella around wherever you go. But you never get wet. Likewise, if you see life through a Menckenian lens, worstcase scenarios sometimes play...

From Hobbits to H-bombs
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From Hobbits to H-bombs

Britain at Bay: The Epic Story of the Second World War, 1938–1941 by Alan Allport Knopf 608 pp., $35.00 “The Second World War,” says  Britain at Bay’s flyleaf, “was the defining experience of modern British history. It is our founding myth, our Iliad.” It is also the inspiration for a continued outpouring of national self-congratulation,...

Slavery as a Political Construct
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Slavery as a Political Construct

The New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History by David North and Thomas Mackaman Mehring Books Inc. 378 pp., $24.95 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project by Peter W. Wood Encounter Books 272 pp., $28.99 Imagine a country in which the major newspaper of its most populous city launches...

Her Majesty’s Afghan Warlord
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Her Majesty’s Afghan Warlord

The Man Who Would Be King Written and Directed by John Huston ◆ Produced by John Foreman ◆ Distributed by Columbia Pictures With Afghanistan on the mind, as President Biden tries to benightedly disengage from America’s longest war, it seems a worthy time to revisit John Huston’s 1975 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who...

Revisiting the Round Table
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Revisiting the Round Table

The Green Knight Directed and written by David Lowery ◆ Produced by Ley Line Entertainment ◆ Distributed by A24   In a world where chivalry is an alleged tool of the patriarchy, it seems odd that the story of the Green Knight, one of the most famous tales of the Arthurian legend, remains popular today....