Ruth Harris, “Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century” (Henry Holt, 2010)
If you’re like me (and I hope you aren’t), the “Trial of the Century” involved a washed-up football star, a slowly moving white Bronco, an ill-fitting glove, and charges of racism. I watched every bit of it and remember exactly where I was when the verdict was announced. But if... Read More
Nicholas Thompson, “The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War” (Henry Holt, 2010)
I met George Kennan twice, once in 1982 and again in about 1998. On both occasions, I found him tough to read. He was a very dignified man–I want to write “correct”–but also quite distant, even cerebral. Now that I’ve read Nicholas Thompson‘s very writerly and engaging The Hawk and... Read More
Jennifer Burns, “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right” (Oxford UP, 2009)
When I was in high school I had several friends who went to Wichita’s only prep school. They were nice guys, played D&D, andsaid they were “Libertarians.”I thought that “Libertarian” might have something to do with the library, so I wanted to have nothing to do with it. But they... Read More
Matthew Algeo, “Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip” (Chicago Review Press, 2009)
Memorial day is coming up, and maybe you are going to take a little car trip. It might even be a “road trip,” one of the great American enterprises (which isn’t to say other folks don’t take them, but Americans can rightly say they invented this genre of fun). In... Read More
James Mann, “The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War” (Viking, 2009)
Ronald Reagan was a odd fellow. Nobody seems to know what to make of him. He started as a Democrat and then became a Republican. Then he broke ranks with his party by running for president against a sitting Republican. As a leader, he appeared to be affably naive; yet... Read More