I usually don’t plug books until I’ve had time to read them, but tonight I’m making an exception–four of them, actually. These are four brand-new books by people who are (occasionally, at least) Power Line readers. The first two are by “professionals,” the second two by “amateurs;” but what they have in common is that they are all by very smart guys.
When you say “smart guy,” Yale’s David Gelernter is pretty much at the top of the list. His latest book is Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion. Gelernter traces the American “religion,” which is heavily influenced by the Bible and especially the Old Testament, from its Puritan roots through such figures as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. In Gelernter’s view, the essentially religious nature of the concept of “Americanism” helps to explain why this country is so loved–and so hated–around the world.
Jed Babbin is a former undersecretary of defense and now a pundit and part-time radio talk show host. He had a novel idea: let’s listen to our enemies and see what they have to say about us, and what they say their plans and intentions are. The result was In the Words of our Enemies. I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately reading CIA reports, and I’m pretty sure I would have learned more about our enemies and their intentions if I had read their own words instead. Babbin doesn’t restrict himself to the obvious suspects, either; he includes Russia and China, among others, on the list of those we should be listening to.
Jim Dueholm is an old friend and long-time partner of mine. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jim had a successful career as a real estate lawyer. He retired a few years ago, moved to Washington, D.C., and has devoted himself to studying issues of public policy. He has now published a book called Say What?: The Manhandling of the Constitution. Jim traces the history of constitutional interpretation in the Supreme Court, and explains how, over the decades, we have moved farther and farther away from the Constitution that the framers wrote. His book is intended for lay readers, not just legal specialists. If you’re looking for a clear, accessible and entertaining account of how the Supreme Court went wrong, written by a very smart lawyer, this is it.
Another new book by a practicing lawyer is Scott Gant’s We’re All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age. Gant reviews the rise of citizen journalism, including, I believe, some discussion of this site, and argues that our legal conceptions of “journalism” are out of date: that journalism is an activity, not a guild, and that everyone who engages in it should enjoy the same legal protections. I don’t know Scott, but I do know a number of his partners, and he comes highly recommended. His book should appeal to anyone who is interested in how the internet has revolutionized modern journalism.
There you have it! A summer’s worth of beach reading.
If you’ve had an opportunity to read any of these books, please comment here.
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