Friday, December 9, 2005

More Books I Read During 2005 and their Value

“Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washingon Press Corps” by Donald Ritchie [Oxford University Press: 2005] is a fascinating history of how news has been culled in the nation’s capitol and only slightly betrays the author’s bias (for many years he was the assistant custodian of the House press room when the institution was controlled by the Democrats). Read.

“History Goes to the Movies” by Joseph Roquemore [Main Street:2000] is a gem of a book by a Chicagoan who puts into perspective the historical background of films like Union Pacific [1939], A Man for All Seasons, The Birth of a Nation—in short all the films that have a lineage in history. If you like films and history both, a vital read.

“Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World” by Hugh Hewitt [Nelson: 2005], a book that led me to create this blog by a nationally famed blogger, talk show host (carried by WIND) and law professor. Superb, read.

“The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to overcome Tyranny and Terror” by Natan Shransky [Public Affairs:2004] an outstanding presentation that makes idealism in foreign policy the essence of realism by one who knows whereof he speaks, having been a longtime prisoner-dissident in the old USSR. Vital read.

“The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades” by Robert Spencer [Regnery: 2005] a frightening look at the world’s fastest growing religion by a man who columns “Jihad Watch” in the Human Events newspaper. Vital read.

“The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” by Thomas Woods [Regnery: 2005] is probably the most completely researched book on public affairs from a revisionist perspective notwithstanding it’s having been promoted by Regnery as a kind of comic book which it is decidedly not. Woods is a brilliant young history professor who belongs to the paleo-right but nevertheless it’s an important contribution. Vital read.

“How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” by Thomas Woods [Regnery: 2005] is another thoroughly researched yet readable book for us Catholic true believers. Vital read for us.

“Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church” by H.W. Crockett III [Forum: 2001] by the scholar who is now publications editor of Regnery and, believe it or not, the one-time press guy for California governor Pete Wilson (well, we all had to earn our keep somehow). Purists say it’s too simplified but it was right for me. I was told it shilled too much for the church’s actions in the Middle Ages: not at all, very candid. Vital read for Catholic t.b.’s.

“A Popular History of the Catholic Church” by Philip Hughes [MacMillan: 1949]. I read this before I did “Triumph.” It was an old textbook of mine that I ignored in college. Actually in terms of excusing past excesses it’s much worse than “Triumph.” But you can pass. You can’t get it anyhow since I’m sure it’s out of print.

“Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy and the Hazards of Global Ambition” by Robert W. Merry [Simon & Schuster: 2005] which, as its enlongated title suggests, is the opposite number to “The Pentagon’s New Map”—sort of a dull version of Pat Buchanan’s “A Republic Not an Empire”—or what the left sees as a proper stop just short of isolationism. Strangely enough, it carries a long, sad inscription to Steve Neal. Merry is president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly. If you want to read a less polemical view of non-interventionism, this is it. Unless you desperately want balance, forget it.

“A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law” by Mark Tushnet [Norton: 2005], a liberal’s view of the Rehnquist Court and a moderately well done justification of legislative decision-ing. (Unless you desperately want balance, forget it. But you could read it side-by-side with Men in Black).

“The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors” by Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel [Regnery: 2000]. More a reference for your library than a fast read although I did give it a fast read. It’s the result of the decoded secret Soviet documents that lists Soviet fellow travelers in the U.S. during the early days of the Cold War. Devastating on Harry Hopkins. Vital read.

“Warren G. Harding” by John W. Dean [Times Books: 2005]. Yes it’s that John Dean but he has done invaluable independent research to prove that Harding was a very effective president whose slur has lasted ever since William Allen White downplayed him in the `30s. It’s one in a series of books on the presidents; and is superb. Read.

“Speaker” by J. Dennis Hastert [Regnery: 2004] the autobiography of the third Illinoisan to be Speaker of the House. It’s very much like Hastert is himself, an unprepossessing mid-westerner of very average insight—although I’m pleased to say my copy is personally inscribed. As you wish.

“The Rascal King: The Life of James Curley, Mayor of Boston” by Jack Beatty [Addison Wesley: 1992]. I found it in the personal effects of Father Mac. Excellent book which should be read by Patrick Fitzgerald if he wants to learn how corrupt politics really was in the early 20th century. Read.

“Franklin D. Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom” by Conrad Black [Public Affairs: 2005]. Easily the best biography of FDR done by a fawning admirer who has uncovered a great many details, particularly those paid for with Hollinger money that belonged to the stockholders. Lord Black of CrossHarbour may well go to the pokey—and deservedly so—but this may give him time to write other books. Brilliant job by a rascal (Black). Vital read.

“James K. Polk” by John Seigenthaler [Times] is another biography of a president, this one of a brilliant president who is sadly overlooked, a Tennessean by one who was editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal during the civil rights days. Outstanding. Vital read.

“Happy Days Are Here Again” by Steve Neal [Morrow: 2002], political columnist for the Sun-Times, was written just before Neal’s tragic suicide at a very young age. None of us knew the demons that tortured Neal who was only in his early 50s when he took his own life. As with everything historical by Neal, the research is amazingly detailed and is an outstanding production concerning one of the great national conventions in all American history: the 1932 Democratic one held in Chicago which nominated FDR. Vital read.

“Memoirs and Letter of Ulysses S. Grant” by U.S. Grant [Library of America: 1885] is a brilliantly written work by a supposedly (and wrongly so) pedestrian American, butcher in the Civil War and corrupt president. Not so. . The style is gorgeous which, my friend Paul Green tells me, reflects the editing and re-write of Grant’s good friend Mark Twain. But Grant’s own letters included therein show a literary style. Vital read.

“The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas L. Friedman [Ferrar, Strauss & Giroux: 2005]. A best-seller but what impressed me was the commonsense way in which Friedman explains the importance of free trade. The book is matchless but not so his New York Times columns which veer into trafficking with soaking the rich and other problematic liberal nostrums. Not nearly so good as “The Economy in Mind” by Warren Brookes (who also died too son) or “The Way the World Works” by Jude Wanniski but all the same a vital read.

“Freakonomics” by Stephen D. Levitt and Sterp.hen J. Dubner [Morrow: 2005] is on everybody’s coffee table but it’s a remarkably good treatise on economics but for one exception: the abortion stuff where Levitt tries to get away with the theory that declining crime rates have been produced by abortion when applied to the poor which removed the trouble-makers. Not only a racist thought but entirely wrong as economist John Lott discovered in rebuttal. Vital read.

That’s all. Oh, there is one more, the biography of Anton Cermak but I mis-laid it.

1 comment:

  1. The Church history book by Hughes is available as an audiobook from Ignatius Press.