I hesitate before posting a message that may be read as little more than a token of my vanity. But I have wanted to list a few of my top holiday gift recommendations that recall things I have written about or mentioned before here over the past several months and hope you will accept them in the spirit of the season:
1. A gift subscription to the Claremont Review of Books. Now entering its third year under the inspired editorship of Charles Kesler, the review shares the immodest goal of the Claremont Institute itself–to roll back the progressives’ undoing of the Constitution. Under Kesler, I wouldn’t bet against the CRB.
2. A gift subscription to the New Criterion magazine. A monthly review of arts, literature, and ideas, full of good writing every issue. Mark Steyn and Jay Nordlinger are the magazine’s theater and music critics, respectively.
3. Broadway Babies Say Goodnight or The Face of the Tiger, by Mark Steyn. Our favorite columnist; the former is his history of the Broadway musical, the latter his new collection of columns.
4. An Army at Dawn, by Rick Atkinson. The first volume of “The Liberation Trilogy.” Based on my reading of The Long Gray Line, this is probably the new book I most want to read.
5. Band of Brothers. The 10-hour HBO miniseries, now out on DVD, the best television series, maybe the best movie, ever, but you must read the companion portions of the book along with each episode in order to understand the tactical difficulties these guys faced in each of the battles. The battles are depicted with a fidelity that borders on reverence, but they look the same unless you understand the terrain and situation involved in each one. The portrait of Bastogne is necessarily excruciating; how else can we pay the tribute due these guys unless we understand the torments they endured? The subtitle of the book summarizes the story: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
6. Alison Krauss and Union Station, Live. A two CD set of the current Alison Krauss live show featuring a brilliant bluegrass band with an updated pop sound that lends new life to the tradition.
7. Bruce Springsteen, The Rising. Can there really be such a thing as mature rock music? About 9/11? The guy has brought all his resources to bear to pay tribute to blue collar heroism, dignify mundane aspirations, memorialize the dead, and console the survivors.
8. The Illustrated Zuleika Dobson, by Max Beerbohm. You’d have to trust me on this one…Just issued by Yale University Press in paperback, the book is a classic of British comedy whose author is esteemed by P.J. O’Rourke (among many others). This edition includes Beerbohm’s own color doodles and illustrations of the text that he drew on his copy of the first edition; Beerbohm was both a fine writer and superb caricaturist.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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