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Semper-Fi on Four Legs

By 8.19.14

Reckless: The Racehorse Who Became a Marine Corps Hero
By Tom Clavin
(NAL/Penguin, 308 pages, $28.95)

Tom Clavin’s Reckless is a story of courage and sacrifice and suffering and of the remarkable bond that can develop between man and animals. It’s the story of brave Marines who gave their all in a brutal war that was called a “police action,” a war which few Americans paid much attention to, or gave much due to the warriors who fought it on their behalf.

There are many heroes in this book, Americans who can never be thanked enough for their sacrifice and their service. Central to the story is a 900-pound, female Marine with four legs, a former Korean racehorse named Reckless, who eventually ran for much higher stakes than she ever would have on any racetrack.

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Prosecutorial Injustice

By 7.18.14

Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice
By Sidney Powell
(Brown Books, 456 pages, $28.95)

The performance of the U.S. Department of Justice in the Ted Stevens and Enron prosecutions were hardly its finest hour. In fact, as Sidney Powell demonstrates, those efforts were marked by unethical tactics facilitated by vague laws that were used to charge conduct that was not criminal. Notwithstanding the outrageous prosecution tactics, some of the prosecutors who played fast and loose with their constitutional duty to disclose information to the defense have been promoted, leaving personal and corporate wreckage behind them.

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Scared Vittleless

By From the July/August 2014 issue

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
By Michael Moss
(Random House, 480 pages, $28)

The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate
By Jayson Lusk
(Crown Forum, 240 pages, $24)

Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry About What We Eat
By Harvey Levenstein
(University of Chicago, 228 pages, $15)

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The Great Bow Tie View of History

By From the July/August 2014 issue

The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger

(Random House, 631 pages, $35)

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. never explored the sweeping plains of my native Australia—indeed, it is hard to imagine him doing so when there remained parts of Europe still untouched by an Ivy League mission civilisatrice. Schlesinger’s attitude toward all things antipodean probably represented a rare political concurrence with Henry Kissinger, who in 1991 appalled a Sydney business roundtable by admitting that “When I am shaving in the morning I am not thinking about Australian foreign policy.” Which brings us to the present question: A mere Australian presuming to discuss one of modern America’s most recognized public intellectuals? Cut to Ambrose Bierce: “Can such things be?”

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In a Sentimental Mood

By From the July/August 2014 issue

Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism
By Thomas Brothers 

(Norton, 608 pages, $39.95)

Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
By Terry Teachout

(Gotham, 496 pages, $30)

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A Primer on Race

By 7.8.14

Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience.

“Please do not do any more good in my country,” he said. “We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done.”

That is essentially the message of an outstanding new book by Jason Riley about blacks in America. Its title is Please Stop Helping Us. Its theme is that many policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum wage laws to “affirmative action” quotas.

This book untangles the controversies, the confusions, and the irresponsible rhetoric in which issues involving minimum wage laws are usually discussed. As someone who has followed minimum wage controversies for decades, I must say that I have never seen the subject explained more clearly or more convincingly.

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Restraint: The Prudent American Grand Strategy

By 6.30.14

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy
By Barry R. Posen
(Cornell University, 256 pages, $29.95)

Since the end of the Cold War, a handful of America’s most prestigious scholars have called for a radical transformation of U.S. grand strategy from the status quo of liberal hegemony. (Liberal because of America’s democratic values and hegemonic because it’s sustained with the sword.) In its place, scholars such as Texas A&M’s Christopher Layne, Harvard’s Stephen Walt, University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer, and MIT’s Harvey Sapolsky have argued for a strategy of “offshore balancing.” In their view, U.S. forces, currently spread across some 500 foreign bases and numbering around 175,000 (not including those deployed to Afghanistan), should come home.

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Flash Noise

By From the June 2014 issue

Flash Boys: A Wall Street RevoltBy Michael Lewis(W.W. Norton, 288 pages, $27.95)Michael Lewis is one of America’s most successful storytellers. But the bombastic conclusions in his new book, Flash Boys, a superficial one-sided discussion of High Frequency Trading, and his repeated pronouncements that the stock market is “rigged” and a “fraud,” are as harmful as they are overstated.
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Eric Holder’s Idea of Justice

By 6.25.14

Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department
By Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund
(Broadside Books, 272 pages, $27.99)

In Obama’s Enforcer, Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund tell the story of a thoroughly politicized U.S. Department of Justice, headed up by President Obama’s “kindred spirit and…heat shield.” In his tenure as attorney general, Eric Holder has proven to be the “most liberal attorney general of the modern era, who…has also liberally bent the rule of law and established internal policies that harm the cause of justice.”

The Department of Justice is one of the most powerful federal agencies. In 2013, it was America’s largest law firm with a budget of $27 billion and some 114,000 employees. Its role is to enforce and defend the laws of the United States in an impartial and even-handed way. Doing that right takes leadership from the top and supervision through a number of levels of management.

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The Good Doctor

By 6.20.14

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future
By Ben Carson, M.D.
(Sentinel, 256 pages, $25.95)

Just for the record, here’s a list of the jobs that Dr. Ben Carson held before he had graduated from Yale University:

  • Payroll office clerk at Ford Motors
  • Bank teller (“I learned accuracy and efficiency as well as some things about bank robbers”)
  • Mailroom clerk
  • Encyclopedia salesman
  • Supervisor in charge of highway cleanup crews.
  • Lab technician at Wayne State at Wayne State University
  • Crane operator at a steel factory
  • Assembly line worker in an auto plant.
  • Police auxiliary on the Yale University campus. 

Does this sound like the pampered grandson of a bank vice-president and affirmative-action baby who was ushered through college and professional school by adoring academics thrilled to be meeting “a modern African-American man who is articulate and bright,” as Joe Biden would put it?

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