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Capitalism’s Theologian

By From the November 2013 issue

Writing from Left to Right: My Journey From Liberal to ConservativeBy Michael Novak(Image, 336 pages, $24) MICHAEL NOVAK IS one of the great public theologians of the last half-century, and his new memoir, Writing From Left to Right: My Journey From Liberal to Conservative, illustrates why. Born in 1933 to a Slovak family in flood-famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Novak witnessed the last century’s great political disasters. His earliest such memory is of Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland.  As an Eastern European and a Catholic, Novak viscerally felt the totalitarian horrors that brutalized his ancestral land. And he would deeply identify with, and come to know, his fellow Slav, Pope John Paul II. Novak ideologically pivoted right when the mainstream Left lost interest in robustly defending democratic order. In the 1980s he pioneered a spiritual defense of democratic capitalism that morally explained the resurgent success of America and Britain under Reagan and Thatcher, both of whom credited Novak’s insights.
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Who’s The Hippest of Them All?

By From the November 2013 issue

What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White HouseBy Tevi Troy(Regnery, 416 pages, $18.95) HOW AWESOME CAN you get? The morning announcers on WTOP, Washington’s all-news station, couldn’t get over it. Bill Clinton and Bono had appeared on the same stage the day before and, as the show’s teaser put it, the President and the Rock Star were sometimes difficult to tell apart. Bono, it seems, started it by doing his impression of Mr. Clinton’s raspy and much-imitated voice. But then, to the delight of the delirious crowd, Mr. Clinton returned the favor by doing an equally recognizable impression of Bono. “They make fun of each other because they’re friends,” said one of the announcers. “That’s awesome!” said the other.
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Knowing All The Way

By From the November 2013 issue

Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our WorldBy George Gilder(Regnery, 400 pages, $27.95)
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Reader’s Digestion

By From the October 2013 issue

Steal the Menu: A Memoir of Forty Years in FoodBy Raymond Sokolov(Knopf, 242 pages, $25.95) LET US BEGIN with a happy ending. On the last page of his engaging and appetizing food memoir, author Raymond Sokolov sounds a note of culinary optimism. Having noted that 40 years ago there was “no first-rate American cheese, no radicchio, no world-class restaurant, no fresh foie gras, no Sichuan food and no top chef of native birth,” he concludes: At the beginning of my eighth decade, I take comfort from two great leaps forward in human life. As a passionate reader and writer, I exult in the scientific advances that have given me the computer and the Internet. As a physical creature chained to a wasting body, I look back with pride on the progress we have made in feeding ourselves and rejoice to think of the even better meals that lie ahead.
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Wagner Through A Blizzard

By From the October 2013 issue

Richard Wagner: A Life In MusicBy Martin Geck(University of Chicago Press, 423 pages, $35) THE JUNE 1980 issue of Esquire asked rhetorically on its cover: “Is anyone in America not writing a screenplay?” Similar queries could be posed about present-day Wagneriana: Is anyone in the world not writing a book on Wagner? According to an oft-quoted statistic, Wagner has inspired more literature than anyone in history save Christ and Napoleon (though if this was ever true, by now Hitler has probably pushed Wagner into fourth place and perhaps Napoleon into third). 
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Artistic Powers

By From the October 2013 issue

Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J.F. Powers, 1942-1963Edited by Katherine A. Powers(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 480 pages, $35)
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Looking Through Orwell

By From the October 2013 issue

George Orwell: A Life in LettersSelected and Annotated by Peter Davison(Norton, 542 pages, $35) HOW MUCH OF the real George Orwell can be found in this new collection of letters is an open question. “Good prose,” he once wrote, “is like a window pane.” The good writer, he told us, will strive mightily to efface all artifice from any piece of writing, leaving behind only his gleaming sentences and the thoughts and images of which they are the direct and flawless expression. 
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Looking Through Orwell

By From the October 2013 issue

George Orwell: A Life in Letters
Selected and Annotated by Peter Davison
(Norton, 542 pages, $35)

HOW MUCH OF the real George Orwell can be found in this new collection of letters is an open question. “Good prose,” he once wrote, “is like a window pane.” The good writer, he told us, will strive mightily to efface all artifice from any piece of writing, leaving behind only his gleaming sentences and the thoughts and images of which they are the direct and flawless expression. 

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