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King Barack’s Crown Government

By 4.15.14

The federal government threatens a Nevada rancher with the loss of his private property. A Long Island man loses his life to Obamacare while a Virginia woman’s family says, “Obamacare killed my sister." IRS bureaucrat Lois Lerner is held in contempt of Congress, having emerged as the key figure in a scheme to deprive conservatives of their rights.

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Master-Slav Dialectic

By From the April 2014 issue

By Mark Lawrence Schrad
(Oxford, 512 pages, $35)

A wager on the strong and sober” was the tagline given by Russian prime minister Peter Stolypin to his sweeping land reforms of 1906, which were the last serious attempt by the tsarist regime to forestall a revolt through liberalization. Leaving aside the strong for the moment, it is regrettable that history’s most crucial bulwark against Communism should have chosen at that moment to wager its entire stake on such a long-odds runner as the sober Russian peasant. In the land of vodka, such individuals have always been few in number and regarded with suspicion by their countrymen. As Boris Yeltsin put it—admittedly in a context of self-exculpation—“People will say, ‘What kind of Russian man are you if you don’t drink?’”

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The Cracked Vessel

By From the April 2014 issue

Edited by Frank Costigliola
(Norton, 768 pages, $39.95)

The career of George F. Kennan (1904-2005), the diplomatist whose name is chiefly associated with the Cold War, peaked when Kennan was in his early forties. On February 22, 1946, working at the time as a foreign service officer at the State Department, he wrote a “long telegram” of 5,540 words explaining the motive force behind the behavior of the Soviet Union and how best to deal with it. The gist of the telegram was that the Soviet Union, pressed by economic failure and hemmed in by Marxist-Leninist ideology, needed and found a perfect enemy in the United States, and therefore was uninterested in diplomatic negotiation or compromise. This being so, the best way for the United States to deal with the Soviet Union was to build up the still free countries of Western Europe and do all it could to contain Soviet expansionism.

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The Lifesaving Dr. Heimlich

By 4.8.14

Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation
By Henry J. Heimlich
(Prometheus Books, 253 pages, $19.95)

Dr. Henry Heimlich is an American treasure. You undoubtedly know him from the Heimlich Maneuver, which probably saves the life of someone in America every couple of days. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once called him “the man who has saved the lives of more human beings than any other person living” and the only question is who could possibly be in second place.

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Talk of the Town

By 4.7.14

One of the biggest events in Robert Mankoff’s life was the day Nancy Pelosi stole a caption from his cartoon and used it without attribution. But Mankoff, editor of the New Yorker cartoon desk, was over the moon when it happened to him. “It’s my most famous one,” he trumpets on the opening page of his new memoir, How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons.

Mankoff produced the above panel for the New Yorker showing a business executive on the phone dodging an offer for a luncheon date. The exact caption was, “No, Thursday’s out. How about never—is never good for you?” A pretty good joke, I thought, and a fine-honed caption. Pelosi adapted the line for a quip on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show: “When the Republicans came in (to control the House of Representatives) they said to the president, ‘How about never? Does never work for you?’”

It was clumsier in Pelosi’s delivery but still went down well with Stewart’s audience.

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Talk of the Town

By 4.7.14

One of the biggest events in Robert Mankoff’s life was the day Nancy Pelosi stole a caption from his cartoon and used it without attribution. But Mankoff, editor of the New Yorker cartoon desk, was over the moon when it happened to him. “It’s my most famous one,” he trumpets on the opening page of his new memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good for You? : My Life in Cartoons.

Mankoff produced this panel for the New Yorker showing a business executive on the phone dodging an offer for a luncheon date. The exact caption was, “No, Thursday’s out. How about never — is never good for you?” A pretty good joke, I thought, and a fine-honed caption. Pelosi adapted the line for a quip on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show: “When the Republicans came in (to control the House of Representatives) they said to the president, ‘How about never? Does never work for you?’”

It was clumsier in Pelosi’s delivery but still went down well with Stewart’s audience.

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And Now Bozell

By 4.4.14

There was a time, back in the early 1960s, when L. Brent Bozell Jr. quite literally defined the conservative conscience. It is long past time that Bozell receive his due. It is therefore great news that one of the first books published by ISI Books this year was Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell Jr. This worthy biography is by Daniel Kelly, a longtime chronicler of the conservative movement who made it a labor of love to finish it before he died, which alas occurred shortly before his handiwork reached print.

Most conservatives these days know the name “Brent Bozell” via the indispensable Media Research Center, founded and indefatigably led by the namesake son of the subject of Kelly’s biography. The good apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Like this generation’s Brent Bozell III, the father (Bozell Jr.) possessed fiery red hair, an unyielding devotion to principle, a great gift for effective communication, and an unquestioned mien of leadership.

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A Big Man 
in a Big League

By From the March 2014 issue

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
By Ben Bradlee Jr.

(Little Brown, 855 pages, $35)

The Kid, at 855 pages and weighing in at 2.7 pounds, is a big book. Indeed, it weighs 10 ounces more than Ted Williams’s weapon of choice against opposing pitchers, a 33-ounce Louisville Slugger. But then, Ted Williams was a big man, both on the baseball field, where he laid claim to his lifelong ambition of being the best hitter of all time, and off the field, where he served as a Navy fighter pilot in World War II and a Marine fighter pilot in Korea, flying combat missions alongside John Glenn.

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Escaping Economic Frenzy

By 3.26.14

Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society
By John Horvat II
(York Press, 400 pages, $21.95)

America has been on a “never-ending party cruise” for decades, according to John Horvat II, and the economic crash of 2008 was evidence that the hedonistic pursuit of consumer thrills cannot continue indefinitely. In this sense, our $17 trillion-dollar national debt stands as an indictment not merely of our federal government, but of the irresponsible attitudes of the American people, who have likewise piled up debt to fund their “unsustainable” lifestyles.

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Fun at the Old Ballpark

By 3.25.14

A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred 

By George Will 

(Crown Archetype, 
223 pages, $25)

T.S. Eliot, who in his later years sounded more British than the British, was actually born in St. Louis and by all rights should have been a Cardinals fan. He could have been diverted in his middle years by Dizzy Dean, Pepper Martin, Ducky Medwick, and the rest of the highly entertaining Gas House Gang. But no. Our Thomas Stearns packed off to Old Blighty, there to become a poet, essayist, editor, and all around purveyor of High Culture.

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