Skip to comments.BOOKS!
Posted on 06/09/2003 7:47:33 AM PDT by KC Burke
Okay, fellow bibliophiles and freerepublic readers wanting to get some ideas on books and periodicals, get ready.
This is the Thread.
I've placed it in General Interest because it isn't a thread about a single book or even about a class of books, but instead, a thread to review once in a while to see what others have found interesting to read and why.
It doesn't need to be renewed daily, the software will keep it down to load-easy size on this wonderful forum. It does need to have a few guidelines for proper functioning however.
First, this is not a competition, we don't need lists longer than 25.
Second, make a point and give an opinion about a book, don't just list it. We know you aren't eloquent; you're here aren't you?
Third, trust us, we know the standard criticisms of the various wings of conservatism toward certain icons. We need no food fights on this thread about paeleocons, neocons, objectivists, libertarians, monarchists, stateists, and anarchists. You are welcome to say you didn't care for a book when it is posted, but make one, and only one, negative post in reference to the posting of a book and trust that readers will get your point. The book can be debated elsewhere in depth; in fact, if you are passionate about the issue, create a thread and rant to your hearts' content.
Fourth, remember that the purpose of the thread is to provide readers of the forum a place to find mention of books that they might want to add to their reading list or library. If a book has been added to the thread, discuss it, but let's not post the same books innumerable times. I will try to do a recapitulation every once in a while to make that point.
The Future of Freedom, Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (ISBN0-393-04764-4) andI have slected these two relatively new books to begin with to show that the classics of conservatism aren't the only things worth reading. These two are great bookends to looking at conservative principles and how they apply to the rest of the world. The reflection on our own culture and government are thereby subtle reflections that any reader can profit from, not just those of us who think on that subject every day. Has anyone else come across them?
The Mystery of Capital, Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando De Soto (ISBN-0-46501614-6)
Standing Firm by Dan Quayle.
I recommend this to go back and read, even if you have not done so. Quayle mis-read some people, and unfortunately the record is there in black and white. I supported Quayle before he withdrew from the presidential race, and I have no axe to grind. This is an instructive book on how one's opinion of leaders is shaped by events.
Barbara Bush: A Memoir by Barbara Bush.
This is an easy read, but it has some interesting detail, and should be read in preparation for Reflections, by Barbara Bush, which is coming out in October. Reflections will cover the time since they left the White House until their son was elected. Coincidentally, those years are the Clinton years, and advance word is that Mrs. Bush is pulling no punches. Heheheh.
Just got done reading The TAlisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I recently "discovered" King novels, especially all that are connected to The Dark Tower series. Talisman was a bit slow and had little to do with The Dark Tower, however I am told the sequel, Black House has more DT info...
Currently I reading Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins...
Waiting not so patiently for the Next Harry Potter....
I'm not really a big fan of today's fiction, but for those who are, I can recommend "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry, a story of Parsees and untouchables in Bombay that's a worthy successor to the great novels of the 19th century. Also, just about anything by Robertson Davies, a great Canadian novelist of recent years. Davies had a real talent for creating characters and drawing readers into a world not so different from our own, but more interesting. His work is uneven, but once I picked up one of his books I always wanted to finish, and when I had, I couldn't wait to read the next one.
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, my peers and I were force-fed the liberal Charles Beards Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, a book that leftist professors are still calling a classic today and forcing on students. Well, starting with his doctoral work, McDonald formed a test of those theories in 1958 and subsequently demolished them in We the People: The Economic Origins of the Constitution. We have that destruction to thank him for if for nothing else in his long career.
While considered by many to be a historian with a conservative bent, he has some surprising opinions based upon his research. Before you doubt him, remember that his professorship at Alabama was the Distinguished Research Professor of History. Many of his books are published by the University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, KS.
Two books of McDonald that I enjoy referring to are:
Novus Ordo Seclorum, The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution by Forrest McDonald (ISBN 0-7006-0311-5)
States Rights and the Union; Imperium in Imperio by Forrest McDonald (ISBN 0-7006-1040-5)
Slander by Ann Coluter. Love her wit! She can pack more into a sentence than most can put into an entire chapter. Quite enjoyable reading.
One of my all time favorites is the 12 volume set "Brann and the Iconoclast". The Iconoclast was a newspaper out of Waco Texas in the late 1800s. Brann was the writer/editor. The writing is wonderful and gives a peek into politics and business of America and worldwide. Brann's subscription base was over 10,000 internationally. As a side line but woven thoughout the articles of the newspaper was Brann's ongoing disagreement with some of the powers at Baylor University. He stood up for the honor of a young girl, 14 years old(from Brazil I believe it was). She was brought from her home by missionaries with the promise to her mother of her being educated and taught to become a missionary. Instead she was put to work in the kitchen where she caught the eye of a young man who shall we say did not hesitate to make his advances. When she became pregnant their treatment of her was beyond disgraceful. Brann wanted justice for the girl whose reputation and life had been terribly ruined and never hesitated in calling out the guilty party in his writing. Needless to say there were those at Baylor who insisted he was wrong and their desire for his silence on this issue clouded their ability to think. This dispute grew so heated at one point Brann was kidnapped by some of the students. Another time an attempt to tar and feather him failed when one of the young men left the bucket of tar under a bridge. Needless to say Brann spared no words describing these adventures.
After loosing his life in a gunfight in the streets of Waco regarding this same Baylor situation his wife had the newspaper printed and bound in book form which makes up the 12 volumes.
For a real view and a taste of the flavor of the West this is a great read.
Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger
The Prize by Daniel Yergin
Or am I hallucinating?
Oh yeah, while we're on the subject, here's another one for the truthbrary's essential stack:
The Law That Never Was - Bill Benson, Constitutional Research and Associates, ISBN#=secret
Yes you remember correctly. The book is by G Edward Griffen and is titled "The Creature from Jekyll Island".
From a review of the book"...To fully comprehend the situation in connection with the U.S. $3.5 trillion national debt, the effects of compound inflation since 1913 (the time around which the Federal Reserve and Income Tax were started), our entry into World War I through the sinking of the Lusitania as well as the current effects of fractional reserve banking, currency backed with T-bonds, the War System, the Mandrake Mechanism and seven reasons why the Federal Reserve Act must be recinded, this is a good place to start..."
Quite a good read for those so inclined. I have pushed a few copies off on friends and haven't done any severe damage yet.
My new favorite is "Grace Will Lead Me Home" A Vietnam Veteran's Testimony by Ronald E Allen and Pastory Jerry Ross. It's actually more of a phamplet and 65 pages short but what a read! They pack a lot into a little! It'll have you laughing in one paragraph and crying in the next only to bring you back up again. Ron has a purple heart and a bronze star with V and now is famous for his kite flying and cave rescues. Quite a guy.
It really addresses the question of the force of Christianity at the time of the founding.
On Two Wings, Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding by Michael Novak. (ISBN 1-893554-34-1)I enjoyed his presentation and his documentation...lol, and I'm not that big on footnotes.
Cicero by Anthony Everitt (ISBN 0-375-75895-X)I'm about halfway through and find it very readable and also informative about the socio-political structure he lived in and furnishing some snap-shot views of his famous contemporaries: Cato, Ceaser, Pompey, etc.
For those not too versed in this period of history, such as this poster, this is very accessible.
I mentioned a couple of nonfiction books on the other thread, but I'll mention some fiction here. I enjoy the writing of Dean Koontz a great deal. I don't know what his poitical views are, but I think he is generally very respectful towards the conservative view. I like the fact that when he talks about history's all-time killers, he mentions Stalin in the same sentence with Hitler. I think it's good to remind people of the evils of communism. I review one of the more political of his books at Book Review: Dark Rivers of the Heart.
I'll mention others as I think of them.
The Vision of the Anointed, Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, by Thomas Sowell (isbn 0-465-08995-x)This and A Conflict of Visions are probably the best two books on conservative thought published in the last ten years, IMHO.
The New Science of Politics by Eric Voegelin (ISBN 0-226-86114-7)Now I don't think that Eric V is one to be taken up for light reading. It is like a strong sauce that has been cooked to a heavy reduction. But this was my first exposure to E. V. whom Russell Kirk liked to cite.
And, of course, I can't add Eric without pinging his biggest proponent, betty boop. Now, betty, I hope you have some time to add a list every once in a while. With you, I am going to have to add that you need to add an asterisk to those that we mere mortals can read without our unabridged dictionary, LOL.
This wasn't just a huge undertaking for the city of Chicago, but for the entire United States. There was a worlds fair in Paris a few years before and the French thought that this was the end all be all of worlds fairs and that the US could never have one as brilliant. Stupid French.
The story of the serial killer is equally as interesting. He operated a house of horrors just down the street from the fair. It's a very bizarre story. People around him just kept disappearing and he would just weave these stories that were believable enough to keep people from calling the police.
I need some posters that read fiction as I lean toward the non-fiction side too much for most thread visitors. You fiction readers go through a lot of books, I know because my wife is one.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
You are right about the fiction readers! They can crank them out. My mom reads fiction almost exclusively and it seems like she's always starting a new book.
I'd like to add some additions to this recommended reading list, from other authors -- just two for today.
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, Stephen M. Barr, 2003.
From Dawn to Decadence, Jacques Barzun, 2000.
Both these books are written for the general reader. Barr's is an excellent resource for understanding recent breakthroughs in physical theory. Here's a review from amazon.com:
"Often invoked as justification for unbelief, modern science here provides the basis for an unusual and provocative affirmation of religious faith. A physicist at the University of Delaware, Barr deploys his scientific expertise to challenge the dogmas of materialism and to assert his belief that nothing explains the order of the galaxies better than divine design. To be sure, Barr recognizes that Darwin's work has swept away the arguments of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theologians, who traced the handiwork of God in birds, flowers, and seashells. But the old argument-from-design reemerges with new sophistication after Barr presses evolutionary theory for a plausible account of the origin of what quantum physics demands--that is, a conscious observer--and comes away with nothing but skepticism about the skeptics. Barr indeed relishes the irony of a skeptical logic of random chance that forces unbelievers who balk at one unobservable God to accept, on doctrinal faith, a myriad of unobservable worlds on which the matter-motion lottery has not produced the winning ticket of conscious intelligence. The absurdity grows even more palpable among astrophysicists who avoid acknowledging the human-friendly pattern in subatomic and cosmic architecture found in the observable universe only by theorizing the existence of an infinite number of unobservable universes in which sovereign randomness has dictated other and more hostile architectures. Neither religiously sectarian nor technically daunting, this is a book that invites the widest range of readers to ponder the deepest kind of questions. -- Bryce Christensen"
Barzun's is a magnificent cultural survey. And never since Dante descended into Inferno has there been a better cultural "guide" than Jacques Barzun. Its subject is nothing less than the past 500 years of Western cultural development, from the Rennaissance to modern times. It covers everything: the arts, literature, music, philosophy, science, history. If you want to understand how we got to "where we are now," you've GOT to read this book.
Thanks for writing, KC -- and for the recommendation of The New Science of Politics. I'm delighted to hear you're reading it/have read it!!! (If you want to understand the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, you've got to read this book.)
I had a reply in mind, wanting to respond to a comment of x made some time ago about how Michael Oakeshott is a very different fellow from Strauss. I wanted to add and say that Oakeshott is to Aristotle, as Strauss is to Plato, but I was shy of making that claim. So I pulled out Rationalism in Politics and read the essay on his view of the science of history. It was a good read, and good for clarity of thought, as Oakeshott moves with such calculated prose (Strauss is cursory and flighty). But that was a week ago.
I'm here now because I happend to be reading Inge and ran into a citation of Emerson which Inge calls Oriental pantheism, the "classical form of mystical philosophy, which by obliterating all outlines makes all things equally divine, and leaves no room for distinctions between right and wrong. Emerson has drunk deeply of this intoxicating draught of self-deification:
There is no great and no small To the soul that maketh all: Where it cometh, all things are, And it cometh everywhere.
I am the owner of the sphere, Of the seven stars and the solar year, Of Caesar's hand, and Plato's brain, Of Lord Christ's heart, and Shakespear's strain."
And I am glad you mentioned Oakeshott who hasn't been listed on this thread yet. I have just read bits and pieces, perhaps for the thread you can add an item of two of his you recommend for the freeper wanting to get a taste of his fine mind. (Again, as you have the time.)
Today, I will add to the list:
Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes (ISBN 0-375-70447-7) It was given good marks by everyone from National Review, the Washington Times and The American Spectator on one side to Literary Review and The New York Times Review of Books on the other.
Pipes is a real Russian history scholar and contrasts how Property rights and law have developed in the west to how they developed in Russia and elsewhere to make his points on how Freedom is so closely tied.
Last night I was very happy with my recent purchase from Barnes & Noble: Dover's edition of Heath's Euclid (paperback, 3 vol. $10 each) You have to like it because it gives the axioms (A point is that which has no part; A line is a breadthless length) in Greek! (link for Bodleian MS pic) Shmeion estin, ou meroV ouqen. And then commentary on the Greek replete with references to Plato and Aristotle. Somehow that cigar had come to life last night.
Today its Jaspers on Kant. Jaspers is very readable and this edition is only $9.
My lastest bit of reading is a history tome: The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party- Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War by Michael F. Holt.
This book is making it extremely clear to me that the more things change, the more things stay the same.
However, it is both interesting and heartening to consider that Bush may be doing to the Democrats what Jackson did to the National Republicans.
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