Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
After publishing Postwar in 2005, a tour de force of European history since World War II, winning the Arthur Ross Book Award for best book in international affairs and numerous other awards, Tony Judt prepared to write an ambitious intellectual and cultural history of Twentieth Century social thought. A professor of European History at New York University, founder and director of the Erich Maria Remarque Institute at NYU, frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, and public intellectual, Judt’s plan for his next book mothballed, as personal history intervened in the form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. By late 2008, Judt no longer had use of his hands; two years later, he passed away. Read the rest of this entry »
PBS’ new installment of The American Experience: the Presidents, a biography of 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, feels more like a drama than history. Clinton paints a picture of a highly improbable president, born famously into impoverished circumstances in Hope, Arkansas, with a father who died before his birth and an alcoholic stepfather who beat his mother in front of the children. Consequently, Clinton threw all of his efforts into his studies, laboring to redeem and rescue his family, and substituting a broken home life for an ersatz, popular persona at school. Such a stratagem recurs throughout Clinton’s life: when situations become tough, Clinton pretends as though they are not happening.
Late in 2010, I began writing a journal every day, having abandoned the practice several years ago. Going full-time on Chiefist prompted me to start again. As my friends know, I like, use and admire high quality products, preferring a nice fountain pen to a Bic any day. So I looked around for a nice journal, and found an outstanding one in the Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal. Read the rest of this entry »
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
- The Halo Effect, by Phil Rosenzweig
You can find Kahneman’s book on Amazon or in most bookstores. You can find Rosenzweig’s book in used bookstores, Amazon marketplace, Alibris.com, Abebooks.com or Bookfinder.com. With shipping, it will cost you about $6, which will be the best $6 you spend all year. Get them both, and read them.
For everyone who thinks the National Championship game was a snoozer last night, you’re only partially right. The game wasn’t competitive — although it remained closer than it should have because of Alabama’s inability to score touchdowns. But we witnessed one of the very best defensive performances in football — ever, period. LSU passed the 50-yard line once, and Alabama had one penalty, with three minute to go in the 4th quarter. Coach Nick Saban had his team supremely ready, and it showed. Stellar performance, and it made the game much more compelling than some might lead you to believe.
Always a source for excellent books, especially Westerns, my uncle gave me Heart of the Country, by Greg Matthews, for Christmas. Anticipating the receipt of a good book for the holiday, I uncharacteristically brought no books on my travel to Louisville, and began reading it immediately. From the start, I could not put it down. Read the rest of this entry »
My uncle recommended Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan to me. Morgan has crafted that rare biography in which the critical lessons of the subject do not become lost in the details of his life. Indeed, Morgan evokes those lessons in the best pieces of writing in the book; the lessons seem to haunt the pages. Read the rest of this entry »
Now that it is summer time, my reading schedule is in full swing—and Levi’s books were in my queue for a while. Born in Turin, Levi trained as a chemist before joining an anti-Fascist resistance movement. In early 1944, the Nazis captured and imprisoned Levi at Auschwitz where he witnessed the horrors of the German Lager. Under normal circumstances, the Germans would spare political prisoners the fate of Auschwitz’s concentrationary system, instead placing them in better-fed, better-kept gaols with their fellow ‘conspirators.’ But Levi was Jewish. Read the rest of this entry »