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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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Our Prophet 
of Peace

By From the March 2014 issue

Wilson
By A. Scott Berg

(Putnam, 832 pages, $40)

This is an interesting book about a very interesting subject, on whom the needle of agreed judgment has failed, more agitatedly than with most American presidents, to settle on a consensus. To his detractors, Woodrow Wilson was a naïve interloper, infusing deadly serious strategic considerations with sophomoric nonsense about “open covenants openly arrived at”; a hyper-righteous, puritanical Presbyterian inflicting absurd restraints on America’s natural allies for the benefit of her enemies; an innocent abroad in a diplomatic Babylon whose ineffectual, feckless amateurism inadvertently assisted dictatorial aggression and the development and spread of totalitarianism. His positions of “watchful waiting” and “being too proud to fight” were just pusillanimous humbug.

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John Dickinson, the Opposite of Chickenhawk

By 3.21.14

The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson
By William Murchison
(ISI Books, 252 pages, $25)

Nearly a decade after the Orange Revolution, Ukrainians removed the man they had installed just a few years after it. Such is the perpetual fate of popular uprisings. From the English Civil War to the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, worse replaces bad. So when Founding Father John Dickinson urged caution on the colonists in cutting the chord to the Mother Country, he had history on his side. But 238 years later, he doesn’t appear on the side of history. 

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A Tiger of a Book

By 3.19.14

Professor Amy Chua of the Yale law school is better known as a “Tiger Mom” because of her take-no-prisoners, tough love approach to raising children. She and her husband Jed Rubenfeld (a fellow Yale law professor) have written what may turn out to be the best book of this year.

It is titled The Triple Package because it argues that three qualities are found in spectacularly successful groups in America. These three qualities, they say, are a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control.

Whether you buy their theory or not, you will be enormously enlightened by their attempts to prove it. In the process they shoot down many of the popular beliefs about upward mobility in America and about the kinds of people who succeed.

At a time when so many in academia and the media are proclaiming that the poor are no longer able to rise in America, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld point out that a major research project on which that conclusion has been based left out immigrants.

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The Anti-Hillary Solution for Israel

By 3.5.14

The Israel Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East 
(Crown Forum, 324 pages, $25)
By Caroline Glick

Hillary Clinton essentially has been coronated the next Democratic nominee and first woman president of the United States 33 months before the 2016 election. This media-driven certainty ignores her many negatives, including the Benghazi debacle on her watch, the circus sideshow of her husband Bill, her tendency to give off an unlikable vibe, and the possibility that another green amateur could swoop in out of nowhere to defeat her in the primaries like Barack Obama did in 2008.

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