Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Some More Books I Read this Year: And Capsule Reviews

“Shake Down the Thunder: The Story of Notre Dame Football” by Murray Sperber [Henry Holt: 1993] is the revelatory book I discovered among Father Mac’s effects that debunks (sort of) Knute Rockne and George Gipp (although, strangely makes them out to be more colorful than ever) about which I wrote when I started this blog. Rockne was still a great coach but hired poorly-paid newspapermen to referee his games and insisted on them writing promo for ND in their newspapers! Ethics of the time were kind of relaxed. Read.

“Bush’s Brain” by James Moore and Wayne Slater [Wiley: 2003] and “Boy Genius” by Lou Dubose, Jan Reel and Carl Cannon [Public Affairs: 2003] are biographies of Karl Rove—good, so far as they go but GOP National Committeeman Bob Kjellander who hired Rove when he was a traveling soldier-of-fortune and my cousin Barbara Coffey who baby-sat him in Colorado when he was 4 tell stories that aren’t in them. Two friends I have tell me he’s overrated. Never having met him, I don’t know but I do know that staff usually get rated geniuses by the media when they don’t want to credit the subject with brains: Jim Haggerty was supposed to be the world’s greatest press secretary when Ike was being cut up by the liberals; likewise Murray Chotiner for Nixon. I’d pass.

“Reagan’s Revolution” by Craig Shirley [Nelson Current: 2005] is a very important book in that it details lessons learned by the 40th president in his 1976 failed presidential campaign against Gerald Ford where, old as Reagan was, he further honed his presidential skills after mistakes by a friend of mine who ultimately was dumped (and rightly so, sorry John), John Sears. Read.

“The Neo Con Reader” edited by Irwin Stelzer [Grove Press:2004] is a very interesting compendium of views by a number of contributors which go together to make a telling philosophy of conservatism including Condoleezza Rice, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Karlyn Bowman, John R. Bolton and Robert L. Bartley among others. Vital read.

“The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works that Impact Today’s Conservative Thinkers” [Citadel: 2004] by Chilton Williamson, Jr. Big disappointment. I should have looked at it more closely before I bought it. It’s Williamson’s take on the great works—sort of like reading Clif’s Notes. Skip.

“Men in Black” by Mark Levin [Regnery: 2005], one of the most important books on the law which puts legal issues involving the Supreme Court and its current weaknesses into clear, workaday language. It helps that the writer is not just a lawyer but a successful radio talk-show host. Vital read.

“The Supreme Court” by William H. Rehnquist [Morrow:1993]. I read this while Rehnquist was dying. Very good book by the late Chief Justice. Easy to read but properly circumspect since he wrote it while he had a Court to run. Important read.

More later.

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