Recommended Summer Reading

By on 5.24.15 | 7:24PM

One of the fun things about being a columnist and radio talk show host has been the increasing interest by publishing companies in sending me new books for me to review or to interview the authors.

[Before going further, I'd like to suggest/request that all of you who read this visit and name the American Spectator Foundation as the charity which you'd like the proceeds of the Amazon Smile program to go do. Basically, you name a charity, you use as the link to buy anything you'd buy at, and 0.5% of all your purchases are donated to the charity. Nothing changes about your Amazon shopping experience except that you use the Smile link instead of the regular link. The links to the books below are the "Smile" links.]

Last year, I had the chance to meet with Paul Ryan, whose book I very much enjoyed.

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Kirsten Powers’ Profile in Courage

By 5.21.15

This is a book that had to be written — by a liberal. It won’t help Kirsten Powers for a conservative to say this, either. But in writing The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech Ms. Powers has done a service to liberals — if they even understand her significant contribution, which is doubtful. She is a profile in courage for simply writing the book — which in itself is a sad comment on the state of free speech in America. Once upon a time in America there would never have been a need for this book. The very fact that Powers felt the need — correctly so — to write it speaks volumes.

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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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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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Malice Toward None

By 9.25.14

America was divided, seemingly irreconcilably so. On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln took the oath to begin his second term as President of the United States. In the presence of an audience that included both his soon-to-be assassin John Wilkes Booth and the abolitionist, one-time slave Frederick Douglass, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. A speech that would exceed in eloquence even his own Gettysburg Address. Both are today inscribed on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

Jack E. Levin, whose first book Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Illustrated was reviewed here back in 2010, has once again delivered a remarkable line-by-line examination of a Lincoln speech central to American values.

Book Chat

Is Rick Perlstein the New Doris Kearns Goodwin?

By 8.7.14

Rick Perlstein is not the only well-known writer of history at Simon & Schuster to stand accused of plagiarism. And no, contrary to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, there is no “Sliming Rick Perlstein” going on inside the world of conservatism.

Stunningly, Krugman wrote this of the charges surrounding the $25 million lawsuit coming from Reagan biographer Craig Shirley:

OK, this is grotesque. Rick Perlstein has a new book, continuing his awesomely informative history of the rise of movement conservatism — and he’s facing completely spurious charges of plagiarism.

Book Chat

Reagan Authors in Plagiarism Fight

By 8.5.14

Not good. Reagan biographer Craig Shirley is the author of Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story That Started It All and Rendezvous With Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America. The books have well established Shirley as a serious authority on Ronald Reagan and the Reagan era, an author simultaneously both deeply informed on his subject and immensely well-plugged to all the authentic sources of the period.

Lit Crit

‘Arts & Entertainments’ Is Accomplished, Frustrating

By 7.30.14

Arts & Entertainments
By Christopher Beha
(Ecco, 288 pages, $14.99)

Eddie Hartley is a failure. His acting career barely extends beyond a handful of bit parts in Law & Order. He’s a high school drama teacher, but the best he can muster toward his students is apathy. He and his wife Susan have been trying (unsuccessfully) to have children, and expensive fertility treatments have left them deep in debt. Meanwhile, Eddie’s talented and beautiful ex-girlfriend Martha, who dumped him when her own acting career took off, has enjoyed nothing but success. She’s got everything and he’s got nothing.

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Scared Vittleless

By From the July/August 2014 issue

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
By Michael Moss
(Random House, 480 pages, $28)

The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate
By Jayson Lusk
(Crown Forum, 240 pages, $24)

Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry About What We Eat
By Harvey Levenstein
(University of Chicago, 228 pages, $15)

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In a Sentimental Mood

By From the July/August 2014 issue

Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism
By Thomas Brothers 

(Norton, 608 pages, $39.95)

Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
By Terry Teachout

(Gotham, 496 pages, $30)