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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...

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...

With Friends Like These
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With Friends Like These

British author Douglas Murray recently wrote what he calls a “bit of self-criticism” about the American right in the online magazine UnHerd. Murray builds his argument around what he considers a very serious problem: “Bill Maher, Bari Weiss and a slew of other liberals who have fallen out with their own tribe have chosen not to...

‘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...

Why the Left Cannot Let Go of Jan. 6
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Why the Left Cannot Let Go of Jan. 6

“Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now.” That was the headline over the editorial of 1,000 words in The New York Times of Sunday last. On first read, I thought the Times was conceding its obsession and describing its mission. For the editorial began by bewailing yet anew the “horrifying” event, “the very real bloodshed of...

Russia Is Not the Great Rival; China Is
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Russia Is Not the Great Rival; China Is

While all facts are true, not all facts are relevant. And what are the relevant facts in this crisis where 100,000 Russian troops are now stationed along the Ukrainian border? Fact one: There is not now and never has been a vital U.S. interest in Ukraine to justify risking a war with Russia. History tells...

The Making of a Gay Saint
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The Making of a Gay Saint

The U.S. Navy launched a new ship, an oiler christened the USNS Harvey Milk, on Nov. 6, 2021, at Naval Base San Diego, home port of the Pacific Fleet. Younger readers of this magazine may be forgiven if the significance of the name eludes them. Yet it is no exaggeration to say that Harvey Milk...

The Strange Origin of the Word ‘Nazi’
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The Strange Origin of the Word ‘Nazi’

It is commonly assumed that the word “Nazi” is the contraction of Adolf Hitler’s political party, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), or the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. But if that were true, then why did the Nazis hate being called “Nazi?” When the Nazis came to power, William Shirer notes in his Berlin Diary,...

Waukesha Massacre Undermined the Charlottesville Myth
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Waukesha Massacre Undermined the Charlottesville Myth

The sound of screams replaced the music as a red Ford Escape slammed into the crowd, killing six people and wounding more than 60 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 21. Amid the bloodbath that evening were dead and dying victims as old as 81 and as young as 8. Their killer, Darrell Brooks, a 39-year-old...

Paid to Hate Putin
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Paid to Hate Putin

It seems that National Review Editor Rich Lowry never tires of carrying water for the sponsors of his magazine, whether it’s the high-tech giants who help pay his gargantuan salary, or his neoconservative donors, whom he also faithfully serves. Most recently he honored his patrons with a dutiful denunciation of Russian President Vladmir Putin entitled...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

The Deplorables’ Academics
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The Deplorables’ Academics

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life   by Jordan B. Peterson  Portfolio  432 pp., Hardcover $29.00   The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas are Killing Common Sense   by Gad Saad  Regnery Publishing  235 pp., $28.99   Walmart is for deplorables, the  left tells us. If that is so, then Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad must...

Faith and Country Weighed in the Balance
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Faith and Country Weighed in the Balance

American Catholic: The Politics of Faith During the Cold War by D. G. Hart  Cornell University Press  280 pp., $29.95   “What the hell is an encyclical?” is probably the most honest and articulate response ever uttered by a Catholic politician in the United States. It was mouthed by New York’s first Catholic governor, Al...

The Alienation of Henry Adams
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The Alienation of Henry Adams

The Last American Aristocrat: The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams by Davis S. Brown  Scribner  464 pp., $30.00   Henry Adams (1838-1918) was born in the waning years of the early Republic. As he entered into adulthood after the Civil War, the country he saw emerging did not please him. The new...

What We Are Reading: October 2021
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What We Are Reading: October 2021

Although H. L. Mencken could discern “no plot whatever” in Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt, he still praised the novel as “a social document of a high order.” The 1922 classic mordantly sketches a bygone America and the paladins who made it run. Even today, the title character’s surname still mocks guileless Americans who conform unthinkingly to...

Books in Brief: October 2021
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Books in Brief: October 2021

Homo Americanus, by Zbigniew Janowski (St. Augustine’s Press; 250 pp., $24.00). Polish American political thinker Zbigniew Janowski examines the reasons that modern American democracy has taken a totalitarian turn. Contrary to the happy talk coming from establishment conservatives about the need to spread America’s so-called liberal democratic values everywhere, Janowski paints a dark but compelling...

What We Are Reading: September 2021
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What We Are Reading: September 2021

Northwestern Europe’s early development owes much to the Carolingian dynasty, which led Germanic society into Christendom from the dead end of paganism. It set the stage for the lush flowering of knightly culture, with its ideals of chivalry, courtesy, and courtly love, which established the Western habit of mind. This Western ethos is rooted in...

Books in Brief: September 2021
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Books in Brief: September 2021

Homeland Elegies: A Novel, by Ayad Akhtar (Little, Brown & Co.; 368 pp., $28.00). Mark Twain wrote in his 1897 travel book, Following the Equator: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” That saying came in handy as I read this book, described on...

The Soft Revolution
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The Soft Revolution

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher Sentinel-Penguin Books 256 pp., $14.69 Rod Dreher is not the first to argue that America, and much of the West, has undergone a radical transformation in the post-World War II era. More specifically, we are moving at an ever-accelerating pace toward “soft totalitarianism,”...

The Declaration and Its Iconoclasts
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The Declaration and Its Iconoclasts

The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (1995) by Willmoore Kendall and George W. Carey Catholic University of America Press 168 pp., $19.95 Ask the average American what  his country stands for and he will likely answer “equality.” If that person studied a bit of American history, he or she would then cite the...

Dynastic Nostalgia
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Dynastic Nostalgia

The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and the Making of the Cold War by Luke A. Nichter Yale University Press 544 pp., $37.50 Even before the Kennedys took center stage in American mythology, Americans have had their share of legendary families, the decline and fall of which have been staples of both history and...

The Strongmen Straw Man
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The Strongmen Straw Man

Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum Doubleday 224 pp., $25.00 Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present by Ruth Ben-Ghiat W. W. Norton & Company 384 pp., $28.95 For some among the chattering classes, the electoral defeat of Donald Trump in November must have been a mixed blessing, though they doubtless could...

What We Are Reading: August 2021
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What We Are Reading: August 2021

“After the quiet 1950s…incidents of political violence again became more frequent and now we may be in the middle of another wave of sociopolitical instability.” Thus five years ago wrote Peter Turchin, a University of Connecticut professor specializing in “historical social science,” a.k.a. Cliodynamics. After 2020’s violent nationwide political protests and the pandemic’s destruction of...

Books in Brief: August 2021
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Books in Brief: August 2021

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot, by Ellen Vaughn (B&H Books; 320 pp., $24.99). This is the official biography of the wife of famed missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who was killed along with four other missionaries while attempting to bring the Gospel to a group of savage natives in the South American jungle during the mid-1950s. Elliot was...

Monumental Follies
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Monumental Follies

Iconoclasm, Identity Politics and the Erasure of History by Alexander Adams Societas 180 pp., $29.90 The ill-starred year of COVID saw another, more localized, virus—an outbreak of attacks on public monuments in several countries, particularly in the United States and Britain. While this sickness presents itself as a skin-disease, only scarring symbols, its virulency attests...

An Unlikely Beauty
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An Unlikely Beauty

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce New York: Dial Press 368 pp., $18.00 Why read fiction? It’s life without consequences. Reading Miss Benson’s Beetle, a novel of manners that successfully mixes satire, farce, adventure, and mystery, reminds one of the value of imaginative literature. Most of the action takes place after World War II, while...

The Christian Roots of WEIRDness
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The Christian Roots of WEIRDness

The WEIRDest People in the World by Joseph Henrich Picador 704 pp., $24.00 Christianity has blessed us with essential elements of the Western world that we should want to preserve, even while it has also produced corrosive pieces of our current cultural predicament. The bizarre political quasi-religion of antiracist wokeism, with its ressentiment-driven obsession with...

Books in Brief: July 2021
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Books in Brief: July 2021

Who Is My Neighbor? An Anthology in Natural Relations, by Thomas Achord and Darrell Dow (584 pp., $24.99). The headmaster of a classical Christian school has teamed up with a statistician to collect and sort thousands of quotations pertaining to human relationships from myriad religious, political, and historic figures. The result is an invaluable reference for patriots...

Manifesto of a Paleo Fellow Traveller
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Manifesto of a Paleo Fellow Traveller

The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return by Michael Anton Regnery Publishing 500 pp., $32.99 Michael Anton attracted widespread public notice in Sept. 2016 as the author of a pseudonymous article in the Claremont Review called “The Flight 93 Election.” It became one of the most widely debated and disseminated articles of the...

What We Are Reading: July 2021
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What We Are Reading: July 2021

This extraordinary tome proposes a cure for our cultural illness: the resurgence of the muscular Christianity that once permeated higher education. The success of Fulton Brown’s project is far from assured, but in this essay collection she embraces the task with zealous ecstasy. The book is ostensibly the story of the author’s unlikely relationship with...

Faulknerian Presentism
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Faulknerian Presentism

The Life of William Faulkner. Volume 1: The Past Is Never Dead, 1897–1934 512 pp., $34.95 The Life of William Faulkner. Volume 2: This Alarming Paradox, 1935–1962 656 pp., $34.95 by Carl Rollyson University of Virginia Press Readers might be excused for exclaiming, “What! Another Faulkner biography?” Yet one can make a case for a...

The White-Guilt Grifters
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The White-Guilt Grifters

The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles Blow Harper Collins 256 pp., $26.99 Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson Random House 496 pp., $32.00 The verbal tics of the orthodox Marxist vocabulary in mid-20th century Europe made it virtually impossible for communists to camouflage themselves. Ex-communist author Arthur Koestler...