Book Review: “Boston Tangle: Regency Comes to America” by Judith Lown

Some years ago, I wrote about the difficulty I had finding “wholesome” romances. In reply to that post, I got an email from one of my readers, Judith Lown, saying that she writes “traditional” or “sweet” Regency romances that follow in the Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer mode: interesting, sophisticated characters, some with amusing foibles, engaging in the Regency era’s elaborate social dance, with the hero and heroine finding love by story’s end.

I immediately went looking and found Lown’s A Sensible Lady: A Traditional Regency Romance. It was a delightful book, and one I highly recommend.  My pleasure in A Sensible Lady meant that, when Lown wrote to tell me that a publishing company was re-releasing her first novel, A Match for Lady Constance, I immediately got myself a copy of that too, and was just as delighted with it.

Lown has now published her third novel, Boston Tangle: Regency Comes to America. Drusilla Fortesque, Boston Tangle’s leading lady, is familiar to readers of A Match for Lady Constance, but you don’t need to worry if you haven’t read that book first (although you’ll enjoy it if you do): Boston Tangle is a stand-alone novel.

The plot, of course, is Romance 101: Boy and girl are attracted to each other, various events impede their attraction, and it all turns out all right in the end. In more detail, Drusilla, feeling the pain of unrequited love, leaves England to stay with relatives in Boston. While keeping company with her cousin Ivy, who goes from duckling to swan, Drusilla meets two other interesting men — one American, one British — and then finds herself once again running into the one man she’d sought to avoid. It is a testament to Lown’s skill as a writer that, before the denouement, I never did figure out which of these three men would end up winning Drusilla’s heart and hand.

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[VIDEO] Harry Potter and the daily threat to Israel

Harry-Potter-3-harry-potter-12531314-1920-1200I’ve long held that, no matter J.K. Rowling’s political leanings, her artistic truth comes down on the side of right and justice:

In the wake of Voldemort’s perverted resurrection, The Order of the Phoenix centers on Harry’s desperate efforts to convince the Powers That Be that evil once again walks among them. What Harry discovers is that nobody wants to hear him. He is reviled as a liar, attention seeker, and trouble—maker. Dolores Umbridge, who is the ultimate smug bureaucrat, with grim smiles mires Harry in endless, aimless tasks, all intended to reduce his ability to focus on Voldemort’s existence. Only with tremendous effort is he able to rally some believers to his side and prepare them for war.

I don’t pretend to know what J.K. Rowling was thinking when she wrote Order of the Phoenix, but I can’t help but see in this post—9/11 book a perfect analogy to the situation the West faces today, in the real world, in its War against Islamofascism. Some of us, like Harry, know that we have seen evil, acknowledge its existence, and are prepared to fight it. But just as Harry must deal with a government Ministry bound and determined to explain away or ignore the evil in its midst, we too face an anti—War movement that endlessly ignores, explains away, and excuses the most vile acts of terror and human degradation. I have to believe, however, that there are at least some young people who experienced the Twin Towers falling as the formative event of their youth, and who will find guidance and inspiration in Harry’s struggle to wage overcome both evil itself and a cultural indifference to that same evil.

Rowling’s dark tone continues unabated — indeed, it deepens — in Harry Potter and the Half—Blood Prince. . . . As Half—Blood Prince begins, the denouement in Order of the Phoenix, which saw Harry and his allies at the Ministry of Magic engaged in a pitched battle against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, has finally convinced the governing forces in the Wizard world that there is a real problem.

There’s an awful lot of plot in Half—Blood Prince that simply moves the characters forward, but the book also contains a powerful defense of a just war. Near the book’s end, Harry questions whether it’s worthwhile engaging in a fight so destructive to the Wizarding community. Dumbledore will have none of this. Essentially, he tells Harry that, in the battle between Good and Evil, those on the side of Good cannot give up, but must press ahead, knowing that they are doing the right thing. Again, I can’t think of any better message for countless young people throughout the Western world to read. Some, at least, will figure out that, despite the worldwide media’s negative drumbeat regarding America and her military, true evil resides in those who gleefully torture and murder in the name of their God.

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Novels that changed the way Americans viewed slavery and the South *UPDATED*

Uncle-Toms-CabinKen Burns’ epic Civil War documentary came out in 1990. That was during my years as a lawyer in a very big firm and as a single gal enjoying life. My lifestyle then matters because it explains why, back in 1990, I managed to watch only the first episode of the 9-part series.

Now that we’ve been to some of the Civil War’s most famous battlefields — Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Bull Run — my husband and I are taking the time, finally, to watch the Civil War series in full. There’s something about having seen the battlefields, even though they are now green and peaceful places, that makes the series reach me at a visceral level in a way that could never have happened when I was a flighty young thing. The series moves me deeply.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin appears in the very first episode, of course. As Lincoln allegedly said to the author of this phenomenal bestseller, “So you’re little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”

If he did indeed say it, it was not an exaggeration. While the abolitionist movement had been agitating for around one hundred years by the time the war started, it was Stowe’s book that took the abolitionists from being a fringe religious movement to one that galvanized the general public. In the North, slavery was suddenly no longer just a peripheral issue that troubled people’s consciences; instead, it was a central issue that drove the South out of the union (“How dare those arrogant Yankees tell us what to do?”), triggering the biggest conflagration in American history.

I don’t know how many of you have read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but I have. It is not a literary masterpiece. Stowe’s prose is the modern equivalent of a dime store novel — but that’s completely irrelevant. What matters is that she is a writer of marvelous narrative power. The characters may be hackneyed, but they are vivid and the slaves’ travails reach out and grab you by the throat. This is especially true for an audience that wasn’t made callous by Jerry Springer and Oprah, and that wasn’t exposed to every image known to man thanks to television and the internet. Mid-19th century Americans carried their true emotions quite close to the surface.

Ironically enough, just as Stowe’s book initiated the fervor that led to a war that left more than 600,000 American dead in its wake, I think it was another woman’s book that helped keep Jim Crow alive by creating across America a passion for the romance and gallantry of the old South. I speak, of course, of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, which was published in 1936, and then kept alive for generations of Americans thanks to one of the best movies ever made in Hollywood.

I first read GWTW when I was 12, and probably read it annually for the next six or seven years. I read so often because, at least to my adolescent self, it was one of the greatest, and most tragic. romances ever written.

Scarlett O’Hara is a deeply flawed character who ought to be despicable because of her grasping, greedy, self-centered ways. That she is not — that she is peculiarly compelling and that her valiant spirit causes us to feel for her even at her worst — makes her something of a metaphor for the pre-war South itself, at least as Mitchell wrote both the character and the culture. While Southern culture may have been wedded, selfishly, to an utterly evil institution, Mitchell brought to that society the same fire, charm, courage that Scarlett had herself.  Her characterization of a lost time touched many people who still had enough moral center to condemn slavery.

Scarlett’s travails — which are also the travails of a war-torn South (and it’s worth remembering that, barring the foray into Gettysburg and some skirmishes out West, Union soil and towns saw no battles) and a Reconstruction South — inevitably elicit sympathy. How can they not? Even though Scarlett and the South were in the wrong, their sufferings were very real and their attempts to cope with that suffering had a peculiar courage.

Moreover, Margaret Mitchell, unlike Harriet Beecher Stowe, was a good writer. GWTW may not be great literature, but it’s damn good writing, so the reader inevitably begins to empathize with the lead characters — and the South itself is the true lead in this grand tragedy.

GWTW taught a generation of Americans who had no memory of the actual war that the South was gracious, genteel, mannered, gallant, valiant, brave and, when defeated, as heroic in defeat as it was during the War. (Ken Burns’ Civil War makes it very clear that the South had a much better military than did the North. A few brilliant generals with a fairly small cadre of committed troops saw victories far in excess of what their materiels and numbers should have allowed.)

autant en emporte le ventgone with the wind1939réal : Victor FlemingVivien LeighHattie Mc DanielCollection Christophel

autant en emporte le ventgone with the wind1939réal : Victor FlemingVivien LeighHattie Mc DanielCollection Christophel

GWTW also taught a generation of Americans who had little contact with black people that blacks were a fundamentally childish race and therefore were always at their best when they had good whites to look up to and take care of them. Certainly, when I was a child, the romanticized world of GWTW’s beloved house slaves (especially Mammy) seemed infinitely preferable to the realities of South Central LA, Watts, or other major American slums. My immature mind concluded that anyone with half a brain could see that it was nicer to wear clean, bright clothes, and scold spoiled Southern heiresses while lacing them tightly than it was to live in a modern American housing development.

It was actually quite a while before I was able to understand that slavery is so intrinsically evil, and so at odds with core concepts of human individualism and liberty, that it can never be accounted a good thing, no matter how superficially pleasant it may appear. I think it was this eventual understanding — when I cast off the last shackles of “Gone-With-The-Wind-ness” — that also enabled me to understand that a welfare state is just another form of slavery.

And when I say “welfare state,” please understand that I am not referring to a moral country that cares for its old and weak, its helpless and frail. Instead, I am referring to a country that systematically tells vast swaths of its citizens that they are better off living the most marginal existence possible at the government’s expense, than they would be were they to strike out on their own. The only difference in modern slavery is that the slaves are instructed not to work (“white privilege owes you”), than being instructed to work (“you owe white privilege”). Either way, the new slaves have been deprived of the ability to learn the skills and make the decisions that are the hallmarks of a free people.

I’m a more bookish person than most, but I am quite convinced that Margaret Mitchell’s powerful, romantic, tragic, gilded view of the South before, during, and after the Civil War allowed Jim Crow and other depredations against blacks to continue long after they should have died a natural death. Just as Stowe brought a generation of Americans to realize the horrors of slavery, Mitchell made a whole new generation see the beauty of a society built upon slaves’ backs and to believe that this society was as good for the slaves as it was for their masters.

Your opinion?

UPDATE:  Patrick O’Hannigan offers a typically insightful and thoughtful challenge to my post, arguing that a much more powerful book, by a much greater American writer, helped offset any message she created.

Winston Churchill’s official 8-volume biography is FREE from April 9-11

Winston ChurchillEarlier today, I told you that the Kindle edition of Nien Cheng’s autobiography is on sale for only $1.99. Thanks to a friend, I can also tell you that, starting today, and ending Saturday, you can get the Kindle versions of all eight volume’s of Winston Churchill’s official biography for free.

What an extraordinary opportunity. I’m diving for my iPad the second I finish typing this so that I can download my copies.

  1. Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I)
  2. Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman, 1901-1914 (Volume II)
  3. Winston S. Churchill: The Challenge of War, 1914-1916 (Volume III)
  4. Winston S. Churchill: World in Torment, 1916-1922 (Volume IV)
  5. Winston S. Churchill: The Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939 (Volume V)
  6. Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941 (Volume VI)
  7. Winston S. Churchill: Road to Victory, 1941-1945 (Volume VII)
  8. Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair, 1945-1965 (Volume VIII)

Nien Cheng’s “Life and Death in Shanghai” — a timeless book about tyranny

Nien ChengOne of the important books I read that helped me prepare for the journey from Left to Right was Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai. In 1966, at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution, Cheng, the widow of a Shanghai-based Shell executive, was arrested as a foreign spy. The charge was bogus. The real issue was that this bright, feisty woman refused to yield to the Cultural Revolution’s fanatic thought police.

Cheng spent six-and-a-half years in prison, constantly fighting against the mind control that would have seen her confess to crimes she had never committed. While she was in prison, her only child was murdered and her youth and health destroyed. When she was released from prison, she lived in miserable conditions, spied on by her neighbors, until she was able to leave China in 1980.

If you haven’t read the book, you must. Because it is a beautifully written first-person narrative, it is a compelling way to understand what happens when a state sets out to control how its people think. I certainly credit the book with creating in me the fear of tyranny that culminated with my breaking away from an increasingly dictatorial Democrat party.

I mention the book now because you can buy a Kindle copy for only $1.99. If you have some sort of device with the Kindle app, I urge you to read this book if you haven’t already done so.

Free for 5 days: An imaginative innovative Sci-Fi book by our own Raymond Jelli

For those of you who don’t play chess (as I don’t), Zugzwang means a situation in which “one player is put at a disadvantage because they must make a move when they would prefer to pass and not to move. The fact that the player is compelled to move means that his position will become significantly weaker. A player is said to be ‘in zugzwang’ when any possible move will worsen his position.”

I mention this intriguing definition because our own Raymond Jelli (who is kind enough to comment frequently here) has written a Sci-Fi mystery novel entitled Zugzwang. Even better, for the next five days (through March 5), you can get the book for free and see what you think of it.

At this point, I have a shameful confession to make: Raymond sent me a preview of the book about two months ago and, while I got started reading it, the sudden onslaught of legal work at about the same time meant that I ended up not reading it. A lot of things fall by the wayside when my workload surges and the pleasure of reading Raymond’s book was one of those things.

What I can tell you, though, is that, right from the first page, it’s an imaginative book envisioning a completely realized futuristic space world.  The book’s name alone also promises an intriguing, challenging plot.

I’m definitely downloading a published copy for myself and I hope you will too. After all, the price can’t be beat, and you may find yourself enjoying many hours of reading pleasure.  I certainly expect to.

The feminist focus on microaggression meets romance in the book world — a view from inside

Reggianini_Vittorio_Seduction_Oil_on_Canvas_on_Masonite-largeSome of you may recall that, a couple of years ago, I did one of my periodic posts about romance novels, arguing that the real “porn” part of the novels is the relationship, not the sex. One of my readers, Judith Lown, wrote me to say that there are traditional romances still out there and, in fact, she had written one: A Sensible Lady: A Traditional Regency Romance.

When I went to Amazon to buy A Sensible Lady, I discovered that I had already bought it, read it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s no insult to Lown that I didn’t quite remember it.  I read around 250 books a year (all kinds of genres) and lose track of those I’ve already read.  I enjoyed Lown’s other novel, A Match for Lady Constance, just as much.

Although I am a few years removed from having read Lown’s books, I know that what charmed me was the same thing that charms me about Georgette Heyer novels: the lead characters are people you wish you could meet, and the intellectual relationship between the protagonists is witty, fun, and understandable. In other words, Lown is a very good writer in the traditional Regency romance style: elegant, funny, and restrained.

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Book Review: C.G. Cooper’s Corps Justice novels are well-plotted, enjoyable thrillers

Carlos Cooper

C. G. Cooper, author of the Corps Justice series

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time about a thriller series that was fast and fun to read. I stumbled across C. G. Cooper’s Corps Justice series through BookBub’s daily email telling me about Amazon book deals. My practice is that, if a free book listed in BookBub looks even remotely interesting, I download it onto my Kindle. After all, since it’s free, no harm, no foul, right?

Of course, an awful lot of the time, free books are free because no one in their right mind could possibly want to buy the darn things. They’re horribly written, horribly plotted, or horribly proof-read — or sometimes a combination of all three.

However, sometimes a free book is a wonderful little marketing surprise. My assumption is that these books are marketed as free or very cheap (usually 99 cents) to function as loss leaders. After all, if you move enough books (even if you’re giving them away), you’ll still rise up in the all-important Amazon sales ranking chart.

Which gets me to C. G. Cooper’s Corps Justice novels, the first three books of which are currently available for free. The books are thrillers that feature veterans (mostly Marines) working together to foil dastardly plots against America. The two main characters are Cal Stokes, a former Marine whose father founded a hugely successful security company, and his friend Daniel Briggs, who is also a former Marine, and whose story is told here. The other recurring characters are mostly Marines, although there are vets from other branches of the service, as well as a resident computer genius.

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Book Review: Dennis Koller’s “Kissed By The Snow”

Early this year, after reading and enjoying Dennis Koller’s The Oath, I naturally sat down and wrote a review. Because Dennis is a local author, I sent him a copy of my review because I always like to expand my network of local conservatives.

Dennis and I began corresponding, and our correspondence quickly turned into a lunch meeting. I cannot say enough nice things about Dennis and his lovely wife (whose name I’ll omit here, out of respect for her privacy). Both are politically conservative in a really thinking way — something that’s not surprising, I guess, given Dennis’s Jesuit education. He’s a smart, analytical person and would naturally be drawn to the same kind of spouse.

It was at our first lunch that Dennis told me he was working on a new thriller. When he told me the premise, I thought it was incredibly imaginative. As we met several more times at various conservative lunches, Dennis continued to fill me in on the book. When Dennis completed the book, now named Kissed By The Snow: A Rob Kincaid Thriller (A Rob Kincaid Novel Book 1), I was delighted when he sent me an advance copy, which I felt fully lived up to Dennis’s promises.

Here’s the thing, though: I can’t tell you what that devious, clever, surprising plot twist is, because to do so would ruin the novel for you. What I’ll do instead is reprint here the book’s Amazon blurb for Kissed By The Snow, and then add my own comments:

As the highly trained leader of the Red Squadron Security Agency, Robert Kincaid is used to working under the radar—taking care of government jobs that wouldn’t exactly pass congressional oversight.

But in this case, it’s not strictly business. After a Mexican cartel murders his father, Rob is thirsty for revenge. And he’s more than willing to take the War on Drugs into his own hands when his firm is hired for Operation Snow Plow, a secret FBI plan to rid America of drug-related violence once and for all.

As Rob gets deeper and deeper into the FBI’s plan, he uncovers a tangled web of lies and conspiracies that encircle the very core of Operation Snow Plow. As he attempts to unravel that web, he finds himself in a high stakes game of odd man out, where he has been targeted as the odd man.

As with his previous novel, Dennis has a light, deft touch when writing. He doesn’t write with Tom Clancy’s incredible density or Lee Child’s blood-spattered violence. If I had to compare Dennis’s writing to anyone, I would say that he reminds me of Agatha Christie — or, how Agatha Christie would write if, instead of being a woman born in England in the waning years of Victoria’s reign, who wrote countryside and parlor murder mysteries, she was a Jesuit-educated, conservative American man who writes thrillers starring a former Navy SEAL. It’s not the subject matter that makes the two comparable; it’s the fact that both focus on the characters and their relationships (both good guys and bad) as unfolding events lead all of them to a powerful denouement.

Koller has a good technical mastery over the SEAL’s gadgets, but he never overwhelms readers with tech talk. He has a good sense of the details of conspiracies and crimes, but he doesn’t bury the reader in a sea of often irrelevant details. He just moves the story forward in lean, simple prose, adding in whatever information is necessary to keep the reader moving with the story. Agatha Christie, right?

If you’re looking for a fun, fast-moving thriller with some wonderfully surprising plot twists, I highly recommend your giving Kissed By The Snow a try. You can buy the e-book through Amazon, at the links I provided, or, if you want a discount on a hard copy version, you can check out this link.

Book Review — Bing West’s “One Million Steps : A Marine Platoon at War”

One Million StepsA new book went on sale today: Bing West’s One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War. I was fortunate enough to get a review copy and would like to share my impressions with you.

West, a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, has now added a sixth book to his series about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In One Million Steps, he describes his experience when he was embedded with a Marine platoon in the Sangin distinct of Afghanistan during a six month period covering 2010 to 2011. As with all of West’s books, it is extremely well-written. West is a master of lyrical simplicity, something that fits very well with the way in which his book pulls us into the lives of the young Marines struggling to take back territory from the Taliban in the Sangin province of Afghanistan.

The Marines who fought these daily battles won’t be remembered in the same way as the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal.  This historical amnesia won’t arise because of any Marine failings, though.  As has been true for generations of Marines before them, the Marines in Battalion 3/5 sacrificed themselves mightily. Their battalion suffered the greatest losses of any unit in Afghanistan.  These sacrifices, however, will gain no traction in the public imagination because this is an unusual war.  While Marines fight to win, 21st century rules of engagement, combined with Obama’s political calculus, placed these Marines in an untenable situation, where winning was impossible.  Unlike previous wars, where even a lost battle, if fought with sufficient bravery, could imbue other fighters with the will to win, in Afghanistan victory was the true No Man’s Land.

As West ably explains, the Marines were ordered to an area of Afghanistan that Britain, which had previously tried to occupy it, had basically ceded to the Taliban. The British left the Americans a single fortified area surrounded by the Taliban; by farmers who were both victims of and collaborators with, the Taliban; and by thousands of IEDs buried in land that was an inhospitable combination of canals, marshes, primitive compounds, and small open fields surrounded by dense foliage. The correct way to have subdued this region, of course, would have to take every piece of modern land and air technology available and go in with guns blazing — perhaps preceded by Israeli-style warnings to non-combatants that they should vacate the land or prepare to die.

What happened instead were Sisyphean Rules of Engagement (“ROEs”) that prohibited Marines from firing offensively, instead limiting them to defensive fire after they’d already run the risk of casualties. Worse, if the Marines sought to engage in any more than a running skirmish in response to shots fired while they were out on patrol, a battalion, not of fellow warriors but of lawyers, had to review the proposed fight plan first to make sure that it didn’t violate the ROEs.  Even knowing about this bureaucratic, legalistic twist on warfare, reading about it in One Million Steps is still a shock.  It’s just mind-boggling that lawyers were calling the shots in a genuine ground war (as opposed to the lawyer’s usual field of battle — a courtroom). Wars are fluid, dynamic situations; lawyers are stolid, cautious, and risk-averse. To make fighters in the war dependent on lawyers is insane.

Even worse for the Marines in Sangin was that they were fighting under a Commander-in-Chief who was committed to defeat and retreat. That these young men willingly put themselves in the line of fire every day, day after day, under the most dreadful circumstances, all in service of a Commander who had already erased the word victory from his vocabulary, and who would soon spell out for the enemy the exact date and circumstances of the surrender is another mind-boggler.

Despite the adversity pressing down on them, the Marines in Battalion 3/5 never lost their commitment to the Marine ethos. Whatever the job demanded of them, no matter how pointless, quixotic, or dangerous, they would do their best to get the job done. Using a combination of brute strength, craftiness, and moral and physical courage, all under the umbrella of masterful leadership that encouraged both team playing and personal responsibility, they went out every single day through hostile Sangin territory and killed the Taliban in a perpetual game of whack-a-mole .  .  . only in this game, the mole was doing its best to whack back.

One of the strengths of West’s writing is his own service as a Marine forty-years before. West has a visceral understanding of what faces a grunt fighting an often chimerical enemy who observes no rules of war; who has the entire untouchable civilian community under his thumb; and who has had years to prepare the ground for war in the enemies’ favor. Although West’s language never becomes heated or bombastic, his descriptions of the Marines’ circumstances are vivid, realistic, and manifestly accurate. West is manifestly not a desk jockey suddenly playing with the big boys.

West also conveys admirably the strong connection between the individual Marines, all of whom are stuck in the middle of nowhere, seeing their comrades fall in often fatal and always devastating welters of blood, and putting their lives on the line every day. While these young men’s peers are at college, or holding down jobs, or just slacking off, these men, all of whom are volunteers, are living by the rules their much-admired Sargeant Matt Abbate wrote on a piece of plywood that he then hammered onto a wall:

1) Young warriors die
2) You cannot change Rule #1
3) Someone must walk the point (where you are sure to die)
4) Nothing matters more than thy brethren . . . thou shalt protect no matter what
5) Going out in a hail of gunfire . . . pop dem nugs until they body runs dry of blood . . . AND LOOK HELLASICK

Another great virtue of West’s writing is that each of the young men he mentions, even if only briefly, is a real person. West is not a Marxist who sees soldiers as cogs, units, victims, representatives of their race or class, statistics, or any other socialist group designation. To him, each is an individual with a name and a story. Moreover, to the extent too many of these young men died, each is a person who deserves the dignity of being remembered once more as the person he was, someone with hopes, family, and plans for a future that was never realized.

One Million Steps often makes for painful reading because we are seeing a tragedy play out in real-time. At the national level, the Marines were contending with two administrations that were, and have continued to be, terrified of the prospect of fighting a full-blooded war.  Worse, the second of these two administrations was frightened even of the possibility of victory. Serving on the ground under this schizophrenic, neurotic, diffident, sclerotic bureaucracy were men who, for whatever reason (a thirst for adventure, a fear of boredom, a craving for the camaraderie that only military services brings), chose to fight in an army governed by fear, constrained by counter-productive rules, and opposed to victory. There is no way this could end well.

Nevertheless, uncomfortable reading or not, Bing West’s One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War is a book that deserves to be read. We need to read it to understand the nature of our enemy, even if our political class continues to turn a blind eye. We need to read it to appreciate that this country is still capable of producing men of high-caliber, discipline, commitment and bravery. And lastly, we need to read it because young men, tucked away in a forgotten corner of an unpopular war, deserve to be recognized for their courage and sacrifice.

A Dean Koontz bargain: “Odd Thomas”

Thanks to a post I did mentioning Dean Koontz’s libertarian leanings, I learned that several of you are Dean Koontz fans.  Because I’m now a Dean Koontz fan myself (having read several of his books in a weekend frenzy), I wanted to let you know that one of his books — Odd Thomas: An Odd Thomas Novel — is on sale for $1.99.  I got the book (I can never resist a bargain) and wanted to make sure you had a chance too, before the sale goes away on September 20.

Incidentally, if you like the book, there’s also a fairly well-rated Odd Thomas movie that came out last year.

The suggested list of books for a high school government class

Rear view of class raising handsIf you’re wondering why the younger generation blindly supported Obama through two elections; why they are reflexively hostile to conservatives and Republicans; and why, even though Obama has dismally failed them, they are incapable of considering another, less intrusive, approach to governance, just contemplate the list of books a local high school Government teacher recommended for the class’s mandatory reading requirement:



I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking most (or all) of those books hew Left, way, way, way Left.

Since the list is supposed to consist of suggestions only, I’m trying to think of a few counter suggestions.  I need books that present conservative approaches to government and economics. Moreover, to the extent that a high schooler is going to be reading the book, I think my counter suggestion should be eminently readable and entertaining.  Of course, since I’m trying desperately to think of something quickly, before the weekend is over, I’m pulling a big, fat blank.

Still, keeping my requirements in mind (accessible, entertaining, easy-to-read), my top choice for a suggestion is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, which I think is one of the most readable political books out there. Goldberg has an incredibly deft touch. He makes his points lightly, often humorously, without ever resorting to browbeating.

What do you guys think?