Napoleon and de Gaulle: Heroes and History, by Patrice Gueniffey, translated by Steven Rendall (Belknap Press):
“Heroes and History”—how radical! The academic theories du jour tell us that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward class conflict, or racial conflict, or some other irreducible dialectic. Patrice Gueniffey, a historian and the director of the Raymond Aron Center for Sociological and Political Studies in Paris, thinks otherwise. His latest work, Napoleon and de Gaulle, offers parallel portraits of the legendary French leaders: their ambitions, their impacts on France at two deeply distressed moments in her past, and their political legacies which have carried down to the present day. Amid so much contemporary ideological infighting, it’s worth reminding ourselves of “the outsized role that individual will and charisma can play in shaping the world.” —RE
Islam Up Close
By William Kilpatrick on Apr 23, 2020 08:42 pm
Here are some assessments of Islam I recently came across: • “totalitarian,” “barbaric” • “Islamo-fascism” • “fascist ideology” • “obsessional dream of conquering the world” • “supreme brothel” (in reference to the Islamic description of [...]
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The Fruits of Moral Collapse
A new book examines Germany’s mass suicides following the end of World War II.
How To Explain The Western Way Of War
by Williamson Murray via Military History in the News
At the start of the sixteenth century, Europe appeared the least impressive of the global civilizations, certainly the least likely to achieve a dominant position in the world. Europe was little more than a conglomeration of small, nasty states and cities, sharing a common religion and a common, ferocious desire to fight each other. Moreover, that common religion was about to be shattered by the Reformation.
HOW WORK & REFLECTION PROVIDE FOR THE GOOD LIFE: WHAT ADAM SMITH'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE LIMITS OF MONEY TEACH
Dietrich Vollrath: Is America’s economy fully grown?
James Pethokoukis | "Political Economy"
podcast interview with Ryan Hanley, a professor of political science at Boston College, discussing his recent book, Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life. For some, it will be counter-intuitive that the father of capitalism has much to say on living the “good life” beyond making money. In many ways, Smith believed the pursuit of wealth was a psychological bait-and-switch: the desire for it helps to improve economic well-being broadly but frequently leaves the business person unhappy and dissatisfied. Smith’s insights about the importance of family, friends, and community in achieving a balance between action and reflection as the key to the good life, are more vital now than ever. If we must step away from our jobs during this crisis, there are many ways we can fruitfully use our time to build the human relationships that, in the final analysis, make up the richness and fullness of life that our hearts and spirits aspire to.
Will the Church Put Islam on Life Support?
Suppose the Muslim world were to lose faith in Islam. Suppose that Muslims ignored the Koran, stopped going to mosque and dismissed Muhammad as a blood thirsty warlord and slave trader. How would the Catholic Church respond? Would Church leaders greet the news enthusiastically, and declare their solidarity with the newly emancipated Iranians, Saudis, and […]
Few moments in history have seen as many seismic transformations as 1979. That one year marked the emergence of revolutionary Islam as a political force on the world stage, the beginning of market revolutions in China and Britain that would fuel globalization, and the first stirrings of the resistance movements in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than any other year in the latter half of the 20th century, 1979 heralded the economic, political, and religious realities that define the 21st century.
Strange Rebels shows how the world we live in today began to take shape in this pivotal year. 1979 saw a series of counterrevolutions against the progressive consensus that had dominated the postwar era. The year's epic upheavals embodied a startling conservative challenge to communist and socialist systems around the globe, fundamentally transforming politics and economics worldwide. In China, 1979 marked the start of sweeping market-oriented reforms that have made the country the economic powerhouse it is today.
1979 was also the year that Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland, confronting communism in Eastern Europe by reigniting its people's suppressed Catholic faith. In Iran, the Islamic Revolution transformed the nation into a theocracy almost overnight, overthrowing the shah's modernizing monarchy.
Farther west, Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain, returning it to a purer form of free-market capitalism and opening the way for Ronald Reagan to do the same in the United States. And in Afghanistan, a Soviet invasion fueled an Islamic holy war with global consequences; the Afghan mujahedin presaged the rise of al-Qaeda and served as a key factor in the fall of communism. Weaving the story of each of these counterrevolutions into a gripping narrative, Strange Rebels is a groundbreaking account of how these far-flung events and disparate actors and movements gave birth to our modern age.
Who Was Sun Tzu’s Napoleon?
By John F. Sullivan, Strategy Bridge: “Alone among the military theorists whose works have reached the ranks of the strategic canon, the background and motivation of Sun Tzu—the purported author of The Art of War—remain shrouded in conjecture and doubt."
Modernist architecture answers to a cloistered elite—it’s time for a change.
The Real Irishman
featuring Jack Goldsmith via The American Interest
Jack Goldsmith’s new book is a courageous, poignant, and personal portrait of Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien—the man long-rumored
Christopher Caldwell’s “The Age of Entitlement”
By Chuck Chalberg on Apr 01, 2020 04:00 pm
Are we a less free people, maybe even a far less free people, than we were in 1963? Partial punch-puller that he is content to be, Christopher Caldwell is not about to offer either a tentative or final answer to such questions. But the evidence that he presents strongly suggests that we are certainly ...
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Decadence As Alienation
Ross Douthat’s new book examines our cultural disaffection as a problem of absence.
Ross Douthat discusses with Richard Reinsch his new book The Decadent Society. Read More »
Great Society Review
by John H. Cochrane via Grumpy Economist
I just finished Amity Shlaes' Great Society. It's a great book. I warmly recommend it. The US is debating a fourth great wave of US government expansion. Theodore Roosevelt to Wilson the original progressive era and WWI; Frankin Roosevelt's new deal; and the Kennedy-
Evaluating the success of President Johnson's War on Poverty
Richard Burkhauser et al. | AEI Economic Policy Working Paper Series
This paper evaluates progress in the War on Poverty relative to the 20 percent baseline poverty rate President Lyndon Johnson established for 1963. No existing poverty measure fully captures poverty reductions based on the standard that President Johnson set. To fill this gap, this paper develops a full-income poverty measure with thresholds set to match the 1963 official poverty rate. While the official poverty rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 to 12.3 percent in 2017, this full-income poverty rate based on President Johnson’s standards fell from 19.5 percent to 2.3 percent over that period. Today, almost all Americans have income above the inflation-adjusted thresholds established in the 1960s. Although expectations for minimum living standards evolve, this suggests substantial progress combating absolute poverty since the War on Poverty began.
Weigel’s Books for Christmas–2019
By George Weigel on Dec 11, 2019 03:19 pm
Resist the twitterization of thought — give books for Christmas! The following titles will delight, instruct, edify (or all of the above): Churchill: Walking with Destiny, by Andrew Roberts (Viking): There seems to be no [...]
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The Iron Lady Alone
by John O. McGinnis
Charles Moore has written a splendid conclusion to his life of Margaret Thatcher. Read More »
SEVEN PILLARS: THE CAUSE OF INSTABILITY IN MIDDLE EAST, THE BEST BOOKS ON THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION & WAR ON THE ROCKS READING LIST FOR 2019
2019 War on the Rocks Holiday Reading List by WOTR Staff
In recent months, waves of protests have rocked first Sudan and Egypt and now Iraq and Lebanon. To understand the waves of instability buffeting the region, it is necessary to understand shifting regional debates across the Middle East. In a newly released chapter from the forthcoming book "Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?" AEI's Michael Rubin examines notions of legitimacy in the Arab world and explores how divergences in Middle Eastern and Western concepts of legitimacy have contributed to both regional and local instability on the one hand and misguided US and European policies on the other. Read the full chapter here.
Despots of the Square-Kilometer Empires by Amir Taheri •
The Best Books On The Russian Revolution
mentioning Robert Service via Insider Financial
Just over a century ago, on February 22, 1917 (using the Russian Julian calendar which was 13 days behind the West), began the civil protests and strikes in Petrograd that would topple Tsar Nicholas II and mark the start of the Russian Revolution. It would culminate, eight months later, with the Bolshevik coup and Lenin’s assumption of power.
Why liberalism works: A long-read Q&A with Deirdre McCloskey
James Pethokoukis | AEIdeas
You Can Trust Chinese Communists To Be Brutal Communists
cited Frank Dikötter via News Max
This month Red Chinese leaders celebrated the 70th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s bloody victory over nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in 1949.
How Strong Are Southeast Asia's 'Strongmen'?
quoting Frank Dikötter via The Diplomat
A closer look at a new book on dictators and the applicability of its insights in Southeast Asia.
How To Be A Dictator By Frank Diktter Review - The Cult Of Personality
featuring Frank Dikötter via The Guardian
Charisma, a lust for power, an absence of principles … what links Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler and other 20th-century dictators?
Frank Dikotter: Inside The Dictator's Mind
interview with Frank Dikötter via ABC Radio
Hoover Institution fellow Frank Dikotter discusses his book How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century.
Books Of The Year
mentioning Frank Dikötter via New Statesman America
Our friends and contributors choose their favorite reading of 2019
'How To Be A Dictator' Review: A Poetics For Tyrants
by Tunku Varadarajan featuring Frank Dikötter via The Wall Street Journal
A dictator cannot lead through oppression alone.
The Lost Art of Deterrence Education
By Curtis McGiffin, National Institute for Public Policy: "The NDS and NPR have objectively described a twenty-first century world of near-peer competition that combines Cold War-like hostility with the hasty proliferation of novel technology, while also demanding a “flexible, tailored nuclear deterrent strategy.”"
'A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream'
Yuval Levin | Basic Books
Now is not a time to tear down, but rather to build and rebuild by committing ourselves to the institutions around us.
On War and National Interests
By Anthony Cowden, RealClearDefense: Meanwhile, somewhere in a Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) classroom…
The Provocations of Camille Paglia
The maverick critic and scholar has championed great art, defended free speech, and offered groundbreaking analysis of popular culture.
HEATHER MAC DONALD
A Platform of Urban Decline
Democratic presidential candidates believe America is racist, yet they ignore the evidence on crime and ensure that racial disparities persist.
City Talks: Jonathan Rodden On The Deep Roots Of The Urban-Rural Political Divide
interview with Jonathan Rodden via Centre for Cities
Hoover Institution fellow Jonathan Rodden discusses his book Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide, as well as the origins of America’s urban-rural political divide and how economic geography shapes elections – both in the USA and beyond.
A Renaissance Runs Through It
What Pittsburgh’s latest comeback tells us about urban revitalization
The Ghosts Of Past Wars Live On In A Critical Archive
mentioning Hoover Institution via War on the Rocks
The United States will soon deploy soldiers to Afghanistan born after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Next August will mark the 30th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, along with the subsequent American-led military buildup leading to Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. The American military has been directly engaged in the “greater Middle East” since. For the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, the experience of war has extended longer, with this December marking the 40th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and next September the same for Iraq’s invasion of Iran.
War Books: The Commander and the Staff
By Nick Bono, Modern War Institute: "There are plenty of commander-centric reading lists and even more for executives operating in the private sector. The authority of command should not be understated, but the organization following the commander bears some responsibility for the effectiveness of the unit."
The 2019 War on the Rocks Summer Fiction Reading List by WOTR Staff
War Books: Summer Reading List
By John Amble, Modern War Institute: "One of Japan’s largest warships, the helicopter carrier Izumo, offers a glimpse of where its military is headed: For the first time, troops from a newly formed amphibious brigade of Japan’s army participated in an extended naval deployment."
George Will's Guide To Conserving The Founders' Liberalism
by Peter Berkowitz via Real Clear Politics
Patrick Deneen’s disdainful review last month in the Washington Post of George Will’s splendid new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” reasserts fashionable misconceptions about liberalism, conservatism, and America. The review — and, more importantly, the book — provide an occasion to clarify the character of the conservatism that takes its bearings from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and from the ideas about human nature and freedom that undergird them.