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Charles Koch’s Human Flourishing Project

By 10.21.15

Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies
By Charles G. Koch
(Crown Business, 288 pages, $28)

Charles Koch’s new book, Good Profit, is written for two different kinds of readers. The first is the entrepreneur who wants to build up a firm, as Koch did in spectacular fashion. So much so that an investment of $1,000 in the company back in 1960 would be worth $5 million today (if dividends had been reinvested in the firm). I’m not that kind of reader, alas. I’m the second kind, who wants to know how a company that foreswears crony capitalism can thrive, as Koch Industries did.

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A Ragged End to a Bloody Affair

By 9.25.15

After Hitler: The Last Ten Days of World War II in Europe
By Michael Jones
(NAL Caliber, 400 pages, $27.95)

There were social conditions and historical events that helped bring it about. But to an extraordinary degree, the horror of Nazism and the murderous cataclysm it brought on the world are down to one extraordinary individual, Adolf Hitler. But World War II did not end in Europe when, with the Red Army bearing down on his Berlin bunker, the little corporal committed suicide on April 30, 1945, thereby cheating the hangman.

Hostilities rattled on until an unconditional German surrender led to the celebration of VE Day in Western Europe on May 8 and in the Soviet Union a day later. These 10 days were some of the most consequential of the war, with political considerations dominating strictly military ones. There were agendas everywhere.

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The New Nihilists at Work

By 9.9.15

The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West
By Michael Walsh
(Encounter Books, 222 pages, $23.99)

The culture of America and that of the rest of what is less frequently referred to as the Western world, let alone the free world, is in a parlous state. We’ve been nearly overwhelmed by nihilistic ideas that have increasingly replaced the traditional ones that for centuries have sustained the freest and most prosperous civilization the world has ever produced.

The unrelenting assault on Western values got underway in the sixties, and has been sustained since mainly by universities, the mainstream news media, the education industry, various precincts of the entertainment industry, and, all too often now, big business and the clergy. But the groundwork for this assault was laid well before the flower children appeared on the scene and Timothy Leary urged us all to turn on, tune in, and drop out.

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Calling All Readers

By 9.2.15

Latest Readings
By Clive James
(Yale University Press, 180 pages, $25)

Poet, author, journalist, and TV personality Clive James has taken some of the last time available to him on this earth to produce a small but very readable book on reading, a lifetime passion for James, who describes himself as “book crazy.”

Even omnivorous readers might not be as cavalier as this comment from the 75-year-old James, who was diagnosed with terminal leukemia in 2010: “If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.” And so he continues to read, and here takes us along for the ride in a series of short essays that will repay the time of those for whom reading has been central in their lives.

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Blonde Ambition Strikes Again

By 8.24.15

At least one reader on a news aggregator website for conservatives recently sniffed that anyone who hates as much as Ann Coulter does should not wear a cross in public. What made that reader’s simmering disapproval boil over was Coulter’s quip to a radio host about how she hates Carly Fiorina with “the hot, hot hate of a thousand suns” because Fiorina has not renounced the idea of birthright citizenship.

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Everydayness Till It Hurts

By 7.29.15

The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season
By Barry Svrluga
(Blue Rider Press, 177 pages, $23.95)

Regular TAS readers know I like baseball more than most. But even for me the 162-game regular Major League Baseball season, followed by endless layers of playoffs that reach almost to November, is a bit overlong. You can have too much of almost any good thing. Even very good things. (I always meant to ask Carlo Ponti about this, but alas, I waited too long.)

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Mark Levin: ‘Plunder and Deceit’

By 7.28.15

Uncanny: Mark Levin has done it again. Six years ago, Mark’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto appeared, quite coincidentally with the lift-off of the Tea Party. In an instant L&T became what then-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann called the party’s “intellectual foundation.” 

In this space I referred to L&T as “the book that changed America,” writing in part:

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A Timid Take on Economic Inequality

By 7.27.15

Like it or not, economic inequality will be a habitual theme during the 2016 presidential campaign. Democrats are continuing to harp on the topic, with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton making its (hypothetical) elimination the cornerstone of her economic platform. Since the unfortunate arrival of John Edwards on the national scene, the idea of two America—the haves and the have-nots—has been firmly engrained in our national discourse.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see renowned political scientist, Harvard professor, and cultural observer Robert Putnam chime in on the topic. He does so in his latest work, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.

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Economics Made Easy

By 7.24.15

Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics
By John Tamny
(Regnery Publishing, 256 pages, $27.99)

If you want to understand economics, all you have to do is read John Tamny’s new book, Popular Economics. After just one reading of this clear, easy to read, and entertaining book, you will understand economics better than most academic Ph.Ds., who are pettifogged by so much PC posturing that even they no longer know what they are talking about.

His book is the 21st century heir to Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, published in 1946. That book sold over a million copies. But Tamny’s is more sophisticated than Hazlitt’s publication of 70 years ago.

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America at an Ominous Crossroads

By 7.22.15

Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order
By James Piereson
(Encounter, 389 pages, $27.99) 

Authors of history books often design them with a unifying theme, a so-called theory of history. Henry Steele Commager, one of the most ardent promoters of liberal politics in the 20th century, once explained his partisanship by saying, “History is a jangle of accidents, blunders, surprises and absurdities, and so is our knowledge of it, but if we are to report it at all we must impose some order upon it.”

Arnold Toynbee, whose prodigious A Study of History won worldwide acclaim in the 1950s, built his structure around the theory that a common religious belief has driven the rise of civilizations. His fellow Englishman Paul Johnson, whose Modern Times won popularity in the 1980s, followed a similar theme in citing “moral relativity” with its absence of firm values and standards as the acid that dissolves civilizations.