Every three months I announce that the Claremont Review of Books is my favorite magazine — every three months because the magazine is a quarterly. CRB is the flagship publication of the Claremont Institute, the organization whose mission it is to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. The magazine is also popular in the White House; 30 copies of each new issue are shipped out by overnight mail upon publication. If you don’t subscribe, you should.
The summer issue of the CRB is at the printer. I think it’s fair to say that the issue is the magazine’s best yet; it is packed full of outstanding essays and thoughtful reviews of books on mostly political subjects. The editors have allowed us to peek at the page proofs and pick a few of the items from the summer issue to debut exclusively on Power Line. We begin today and will continue tomorrow, Friday and Tuesday.
Today we debut the review/essay by Doug Jeffrey on the serial novels of Charles McCarry, the newest one of which has just been released in paperback. American gentleman, scholar, poet, patriot, and spy — McCarry’s hero Paul Christopher is all these things. And over thirty-four years, starring in five McCarry novels, he has time and again answered the call of duty, mounted his white steed, ridden off into the “wilderness of mirrors,” fought the good fight, slain the dragons, and saved the damsel in distress.
Now, with the publication of Old Boys, it is Christopher himself who seems to need saving. A handful of his septuagenarian comrades in arms come out of retirement to answer duty’s call. In this case, the dragons they face include all the usual 20th century suspects: Nazis, Communists, Islamic terrorists, Russian mobsters, you name it. The distressed damsel, who must be saved along with Christopher, is — as it always is — the damsel of the West, Western Civilization itself, saved by Paul Christopher more than once in the glory years of the “Outfit.”
Read Doug Jeffrey’s review of McCarry’s oeuvre to find out why, as heroic as Christopher and his greatest generation are, our damsel needs greater heroes still: “Le morte de Christopher.” I thought that Doug’s marvelous essay might inspire you to pick up McCarry’s new novel and take a crack at it over the long holiday weekend.
UPDATE: Professor Robert Maddock of Siera College dissents:
Should tell you that I have tried to read McCarry. He is simply not a good story teller or much of a writer. If you want great writing and historical story telling of a very high order, read the novels of Alan Furst. You might also take a look at John Gardner