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An American WWII Pilot’s Tormented Rescue Mission on the Eastern Front

By 4.15.15

Beyond the Call: The True Story of One World War II Pilot’s Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front
By Lee Trimble and Jeremy Dronfield
(Berkley Caliber, 323 pages, $26.95)

Beyond the Call is an inspiring but uncomfortable read. Inspiring because it shows an American hero and patriot bravely performing his duty under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Uncomfortable because it shows our hero being tested to the limit and beyond, seeing about the worst the human race can offer, while getting a good deal less than the support he needs and deserves from his superiors.

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David Limbaugh’s ‘Jesus on Trial’

By 4.2.15

Last year lawyer and columnist David Limbaugh wrote an unusual bestseller. 

As Christians mark Holy Week and Easter, notably this year with Christianity itself under assault by everyone from ISIS to American leftist secularists (hello Indiana), it is both appropriate and important to take note of David Limbaugh’s confronting of Christianity’s critics in his more than appropriately named Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.

Mr. Limbaugh begins by retelling a conversation with two friends who are “nonbelievers.” He writes of one:

I clearly recall that at one point he announced that he couldn’t understand how any person using his reasoning powers could possibly believe in Christianity.

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The Leftists on the Sidelines

By 3.31.15

Bias in the Booth: An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News
By Dylan Gwinn
(Regnery Publishing, 256 pages, $27.99)

As there is less and less difference now between tabloid journalism and so-called mainstream journalism, so there is less and less difference between news media and sports journalism. Both now, especially at the highest level, are rife with left activists masquerading as reporters. Folks whose agendas are far more important to them than the events they are supposed to be covering.

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Ode to Bobbie Gentry

By 3.9.15

If you’re asked about the year 1967 where it concerns music there’s a good chance you’ll respond with the Summer of Love, the Monterey Pop Festival, and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band whether you were part of that scene or not.

But in the midst of the Summer of Love along came a song steeped in darkness and doom. Its lyrics told the story of a young man named Billie Joe McAllister who ended his life by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. The words and music were written by an unknown young female singer/songwriter from Mississippi named Roberta Streeter who was now going by the name Bobbie Gentry. In the summer of ’67, Bobbie Gentry became an overnight sensation with her monster hit “Ode to Billie Joe,” which knocked The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” from the top of the singles charts while the album of the same name knocked Sgt. Pepper off the top of the album charts.

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The Literary Sportsman Scores

By 2.23.15

Masters of the Games: Essays and Stories on Sport
By Joseph Epstein
(Rowman & Littlefield, 309 pages, $24.95)

You could probably fit everyone who can discourse in an equally learned and entertaining way about both Marcel Proust and Jake LaMotta into Joseph Epstein’s living room with space left over. That’s because, as far as I’m aware, Epstein is the only writer doing this for our benefit today. Read Epstein’s 25th book, Masters of the Games, and my guess is you’ll agree.

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America in Retreat

By 2.10.15

Bret Stephens has written not just a good book on American foreign policy. He has written an important book.

As Islamic radicalism rampages through the Middle East on a global drive to create a caliphate, the Chancellor of Germany is trying to deal with Vladimir Putin’s aggressions in the Ukraine, the Chinese navy is on track to outnumber the U.S. Navy by 2020, and America’s allies have understandable doubts about America’s lack of resolve, not to mention U.S. credibility. That doesn’t even touch the Iranian mullahs and their relentless drive to possess nuclear weapons. Or the craziness that goes on in North Korea.

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‘Treasure Planet’ Is a Delightful Mashup

By 1.15.15

“Well, I suppose a human being isn’t the best judge. You humans do it differently from us. We are not kind. But deep down you are utterly ferocious on a level we Kzin can’t reach. All the truly frightful things you can’t face, you let your subconscious handle. That’s how you beat us. Only you don’t see it, you won’t let yourself see it; you fool yourselves into thinking there’s something nice at your core. But down there in the id, you have a monster lurking, little Peter. You can’t see it, but I can.”

If you were to hold a cutlass to my throat and force me to name the greatest adventure story ever written, I’m pretty sure I’d have to say Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. I’ll never forget how much I loved it as a boy; how deeply satisfying it was at a primal level. Better yet, it still works when I return to it as an adult. Other great adventure books were written before and have been written since, but Treasure Island just rings true. It’s hard to imagine a way to make it better.

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Who Was Dalton Trumbo, Screenwriter and Stalinist?

By 1.6.15

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical
By Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo.
(University of Kentucky Press, 640 pages, $36)

One of the dangers for a biographer, particularly when his subject shares the same ideology, is to display his love for him. This temptation is never more true for the Cold War Left and New Left than with regard to Dalton Trumbo — the author of the anti-war classic, Johnny Got His Gun, and the screenwriter who singlehandedly broke the blacklist.

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Christmas Books

By 12.10.14

This year, Christmas shopping may be an especially welcome respite from the ugly events going on across the country, as mobs take to the streets because grand juries that examined evidence reached different conclusions from those reached by mobs who made up their minds without examining that evidence.

Perhaps more than in other years, shopping malls can become shopping mauls. One of the ways to make Christmas shopping less stressful is to give books as presents — after ordering them on the Internet. There is a good crop of new books to choose from this year, as well as some old favorites that can make good gifts.

For people concerned about current racial issues, Jason Riley’s new book Please Stop Helping Us cuts through so much of the current toxic rhetoric spread by politicians, hustlers and media pundits. It is amazing how refreshing plain English and common sense can be, especially when backed up with hard facts that are seldom discussed in the mainstream media.

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The Cold War in Retrospect: How Historians Still Get It Wrong

By 12.2.14

Myths of the Cold War: Amending Historiographic Distortions
By Albert L. Weeks
(Lexington Books, 154 pages, $76)

Are Western historians going soft on the Cold War that the Russians waged against the West for 45 years? A new look at trends in this gray area of history indicates that many writers and younger generations now contend the threat of hostilities, including nuclear exchanges, can be blamed primarily on American post-war posture, not solely on that of the Russians.

But historian Albert Weeks, a former State Department official and long-time academic, has produced a concise and polemical book to confront this “lamentable historiographic distortion.” Now 91 and retired in Florida, he seeks to set the record straight.