Buy the Book

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.

Buy the Book

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.

Buy the Book

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.

Buy the Book

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)

Buy the Book

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)

Buy the Book

Restraint: The Prudent American Grand Strategy

By 6.30.14

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy
By Barry R. Posen
(Cornell University, 256 pages, $29.95)

Since the end of the Cold War, a handful of America’s most prestigious scholars have called for a radical transformation of U.S. grand strategy from the status quo of liberal hegemony. (Liberal because of America’s democratic values and hegemonic because it’s sustained with the sword.) In its place, scholars such as Texas A&M’s Christopher Layne, Harvard’s Stephen Walt, University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer, and MIT’s Harvey Sapolsky have argued for a strategy of “offshore balancing.” In their view, U.S. forces, currently spread across some 500 foreign bases and numbering around 175,000 (not including those deployed to Afghanistan), should come home.

Shelf Life

Does Language Shape Thought?

By 6.23.14

The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language
By John H. McWhorter
(Oxford, 208 pages, $19.95)

Chinese has an extraordinary number of verbs meaning “carry.” If I carry something on a hanging arm, like a briefcase, the verb is ti; on an outstretched palm, tuo; using both palms, peng; gripped between upper arm and body, xie; in my hand, like a stick, wo; embraced, like a baby, bao; on my back, bei; on my head, ding; on my shoulder, kang; on a pole over my shoulder, tiao; slung on a shoulder pole between two guys, tai….

Every foreign language learner encounters similar curiosities. The question naturally occurs: Since speakers of different languages carve up the world so differently when they speak, do they likewise do so when they think? Do they conceive of the world differently?