Books

“All the frequent troubles of our days”

Featured image Although the text of the book runs to nearly 500 pages, I consumed All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days in three big gulps. I found it a powerful and moving book that was hard to put down. If you want to know what it was like to live in Berlin during the Nazis’ rise to power through the first few years of the war, author Rebecca Donner offers a »

When Elvis met Nixon

Featured image Yesterday I focused on Elvis’s recorded work while nodding to Peter Guralnick’s two-volume biography of Elvis — Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love — to tell the life. Guralnick has made himself the essential Elvis historian. Guralnick of course recounts the true story of the day in December 1970 when Elvis met Nixon in the White House. The story of the visit provides insight into Elvis’s patriotism as well »

Newton’s first law, etc.

Featured image A look, a book, and a crook (or a crock). What is the question, according to Carnac the Magnificent? I don’t know, but it is the miscellany that I need this morning. Thinking of Carnac makes me laugh. I think I was studying high school physics when I heard him divine the question to the answer: “One fig to a cookie.” The question: “What is Newton’s first law?” It still »

Shapes of things: Laptop from hell edition

Featured image New York Post columnist Miranda Devine has committed the story of the laptop from hell to book form. Published on November 30, the book is Laptop from Hell: Hunter Biden, Big Tech, and the Dirty Secrets the President Tried to Hide. The story is familiar to Power Line readers, yet in Devine’s telling it comes infuriatingly to life — an almost unbelievable story of censorship and suppression in the land »

Mr. Socialist confesses…

Featured image This is a personal note about Garrison Keillor. I began listening to Keillor on Minnesota Public Radio while I was in law school. Garrison occupied the station’s three-hour morning slot five days a week with A Prairie Home Morning Show. I thought the show was so entertaining and funny that he would become a star. I learned a lot about American popular music listening to the show. The first time »

Bob Dole at war

Featured image Bob Dole was a happy undergrad at the University of Kansas in 1942. “He didn’t want to go to war,” Richard Ben Cramer writes in chapter 5 of What It Takes: The Way to the White House, his doorstop “masterpiece” (as Jonathan Martin called it when Cramer died in 2013). Dole was happily “fooling around” on campus and at his fraternity, pursuing his studies, going out for football, baseball, and »

The Cuomo way to wealth

Featured image Disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t been much in the news lately. You may accordingly have missed the release of the state Assembly report on some of Cuomo’s misconduct in office. It is the subject of Michael Goodwin’s New York Post column “No end to how low Andrew Cuomo will go.” Referring to the report’s findings, Goodwin notes: Key among those is showing how Cuomo overruled Department of Health »

Critique of pure Tucker

Featured image Ten years ago Wilfred McClay explained the deep meaning of Rush Limbaugh in the Commentary essay “How to understand Rush Limbaugh.” I more or less celebrated Professor McClay’s essay in the post “Critique of pure Rush.” Ten years later Professor McClay is back with an essay/review occasioned by Tucker Carlson’s collection The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism. The review is published by First Things under the heading “Tucker »

Thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image Ammo Grrrll remembers: THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS – March 2020 to April 2021. She writes: When you have lived for 75 years upon this planet, you think you have not only SEEN everything, but have had enough experience to ANTICIPATE what might come next. But I have to just straight-up confess that I did not, no how, no way, anticipate the fact that a good 20-30 percent of »

A Shakespearean interlude

Featured image I need to attend to personal business this morning. I thought I might confine myself to posting a note on the Osher course I just completed on “The Petrarchan sonnet in England.” Taught by Shakespearean scholar Jonathan Crewe — the Leon D. Black Professor in Shakespearean Studies emeritus at Dartmouth — this was the course description, which I found to be educational all by itself: In one of his sonnets, »

The Dying Citizen

Featured image Victor Davis Hanson’s important new book is The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America, published by Basic Books on October 5. Victor is a learned man who applies his learning to the present discontents in the book and in his interview with Peter Robinson (video below). The Hoover Institution/Uncommon Knowledge post includes both the video and podcast forms of the interview with »

In the midst of life

Featured image Ambrose Bierce is a writer whose cynicism matches well with our current mood, yet I wonder if anyone reads him any more or even knows who he is. If you’ve read his Civil War story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” you haven’t forgotten it. In February 1964 The Twilight Zone broadcast a short French film adapting the story. If you saw it, you haven’t forgotten it. I have posted »

A Chaucerian interlude

Featured image As an undergraduate I took two English courses on the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, the first on The Canterbury Tales and the second on Troilus and Criseyde. Both courses were taught by Peter Travis (the first with the late, great Alan T. Gaylord), then in the early years of his distinguished career as a teacher, medievalist, and Chaucerian. Both courses were among the highlights of my education. Although he retired »

The dying citizen

Featured image Victor Davis Hanson’s new book — The Dying Citizen, published earlier this month by Basic Books — could not be more timely. American Greatness published VDH’s précis of the book’s argument here. City Journal editor Brian Anderson has now recorded a podcast with him on the themes of the book that I have embedded below. The transcript is posted here along with the podcast itself. As City Journal puts it, »

The Bidens: Corrupt or crazy?

Featured image Yesterday Matt Taibbi published the column “‘The Bidens’: Is the First Family Corrupt, or Merely Crazy?” Subhead: “Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger’s new book is an equal opportunity offender that may push a reluctant national media to re-examine ugly questions about President Joe Biden.” Taibbi posted the column to his TK News Substack site. Taibbi is probably overoptimistic about the effect of Schreckinger’s book on the national media. His column nevertheless »

Sandel’s just deserts

Featured image Provoked by Charles Murray’s laid-back admiration of Harvard Professor Michael Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit, I touched on the issues that seem to be raised by Sandel’s book in “The merit of meritocracy.” Sandel’s book is now out in paperback and the Washington Free Beacon has just published Peter Berkowitz’s review of Sandel’s book. Placing the book in the context of Sandel’s career and the tradition of political philosophy, Berkowitz’s »

A great teacher remembered

Featured image Yale classicist and historian Donald Kagan died this past August. In the current (October) issue of the New Criterion his former student Paul Rahe draws on his long relationship with Professor Kagan for the tribute “Donald Kagan, 1932–2021.” It is a moving portrait of a great teacher. Indeed, one can infer the qualities of a great teacher from Rahe’s portrait. It is worth reading and thinking through on that ground »