Books

The case for charter schools

Featured image Kevin Williams reviews Thomas Sowell’s new book on charter schools in the July 27 issue of National Review. The review is published under the headline “The Collapsing Case against Charter Schools.” The review opens: Thomas Sowell — who will have just turned 90 when this review is published — could have retired by now. He could be publishing the memoirs of a celebrated intellectual or the late-career tracts of an »

PL Podcast: The Three Whisky Happy Hour, with Guest Bartender John Yoo

Featured image Settle in for an extra-long bonus episode, as Lucretia and I depart from our nascent Islay-Highland-Irish whisky flight format because we have a guest bartender and malt master on with us for this weekend’s episode—John Yoo! John not only knows the deep history of fine Japanese whiskies, but also the Constitution and presidential power. He has a terrific new book coming out on Tuesday, Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight »

Summer classics revisited

Featured image It’s my goal in life to read the books I was supposed to read in college. I have looked to the St. John’s College Summer Classics program to help me achieve my goal. This year I took advantage of the Zoom edition of the program to sign up for classes over two weeks, the first on Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and the second on Faulkner’s Flags in the Dust. »

Apocalypse never

Featured image Michael Shellenberger is author of the new book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. Quillette excerpted it in “Why I Believe Climate Change Is Not the End of the World.” Last month John Tierney reviewed the book for the Wall Street Journal in “False Gods for Lost Souls.” Tierney writes: [Shellenberger] chronicles environmental progress around the world and crisply debunks myth after gloomy myth. No, we are not »

The Power Line Show, Ep 195: Toppling Teddy Roosevelt the Right Way, with Jean Yarbrough

Featured image When I heard the news that the nihilist mob plans to take down the statue of Theodore Roosevelt astride his horse in front the Natural History Museum in New York City, I knew I had to ring up Jean Yarbrough, the Gary Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College, and author of the best book on TR’s political thought and legacy, Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition. »

The Power Line Show, Ep 193: “Apocalypse Never,” with Michael Shellenberger

Featured image This week’s guest is Michael Shellenberger, the founder and president of Environmental Progress, and author of an important new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. Most books about the environment typically feature breathless panic about how the world is coming to an end. Michael’s book is a rare outlier that debunks the extremism of most such apocalyptic claims, which too often are the predicate for not just »

Speaking of escape

Featured image Life in lockdown requires something better than the news of the day. Avoiding the news to the extent that I can consistent with my responsibilities here, I have looked for historical and literary diversions as an escape. Who better to escape with than Harry Houdini? I knew next to nothing about Houdini before I read Kenneth Silverman’s biography Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss, American Self-Liberator, Europe’s Eclipsing Sensation, World’s »

American communes, from Blithedale to CHAZ

Featured image The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) is a six-block residential area in Seattle taken over by radical protesters and anarchists. It’s being referred to as “a kind of commune.” CHAZ isn’t a traditional American commune. Traditionally, our communes consist of small groups of people with an affinity for one another (at first, anyway) who establish a sustainable community (in theory, anyway), typically in a rural area. CHAZ consists of whomever, »

The Power Line Show, Ep 192: “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism,” with Joel Kotkin

Featured image Joel Kotkin is one of America’s premier analysts of city life, urban economics, demographic change, and social trends. His brand new book, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class, turns upside down the conventional liberal narrative about why the middle and working classes are under pressure. It’s not capitalism and markets, but their perversions, especially in the hands of the tech oligarchs of Silicon Valley and »

The worst book I have ever read

Featured image Writing on Power Line about recent events in Minnesota, I noted that Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is easily one of the worst books I have ever read; the book had been cited by one of Governor Walz’s gurus on race. Alexander’s book is as bad as it is influential. It’s funny how that goes. Although Alexander’s book is a close competitor for the distinction, the worst book I »

The Power Line Show, Ep 189: Ross Douthat on “The Decadent Society”

Featured image “Decadence” is one of those familiar terms that is trivialized or rendered comic by overuse—perhaps you’d say from decadence itself. And while most people think decadent is mostly a synonym for “sumptuous,” it has a wider and deeper meaning, which is the subject of Ross Douthat’s new book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times and author »

America’s honor

Featured image In observance of Memorial Day 2007 the Wall Street Journal published a brilliant column by the late Peter Collier to mark the occasion. The column remains timely and is accessible online here. I don’t think we’ll read or hear anything more thoughtful or appropriate to the occasion today. With the kind permission of Peter himself, here it is: Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: those »

Gimme CRB shelter

Featured image Our friends at the Claremont Review of Books have an important announcement: “With so many here and around the world still confined to quarters, the CRB editors have decided to brighten your detention by making our new Spring issue available free to readers everywhere. No masks required.” No longer the middleman selecting highlights from the issue, I urge Power Line readers to check it out on their own here. As »

Isaac Babel revisited

Featured image Northwestern University Professor Gary Saul Morson packs a lot of learning into his 2018 New York Review of Books essay/review on Isaac Babel, “The horror, the horror.” The editors of the NYRB kindly took the essay out from behind its paywall and made it accessible for Power Line readers this week in response to my request yesterday. The essay will soon recede behind the paywall once again. I want to »

The Mirror & The Light

Featured image One thing about self-isolating, you have plenty of time to read. Yesterday I finished The Mirror & The Light, the concluding volume of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy starring Thomas Cromwell. The first book, Wolf Hall, covered Cromwell’s rise to power, first as an aide to Cardinal Wolsey, then, surviving Wolsey’s fall, as a key adviser to Henry VIII. Wolf Hall concludes with Cromwell’s victory over Thomas More. Cromwell was a protestant »

Napoleon: Not So Bad After All

Featured image Let’s take a break from COVID-19 and talk books. Last year I read Andrew Roberts’ biography of Winston Churchill, and enjoyed it. I didn’t realize that he also wrote a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte in 2014 until one of my daughters gave it to me for Christmas. It is a terrific book–long, at 800 pages, but so absorbing that it could easily have been longer. I actually enjoyed Napoleon more »

In Hoffa’s Shadow

Featured image If you are looking for a new book with which you can hunker down while you isolate yourself at home, I recommend Jack Goldsmith’s In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, A Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth. Goldsmith is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant »