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CRB E-Reviews

The Enduring Problem of Leo Strauss?

A review of The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss, by Laurence Lampert and Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy, by Michael P. Zuckert and Catherine H. Zuckert

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If Destruction Be Our Lot

Fifty years ago, National Review founding editor James Burnham wrote Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism, a book that brilliantly examines the role of modern liberalism in reconciling the West to its geopolitical retreat. Like all of Burnham’s books, Suicide ...

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Born in a Small Town

A review of Flyover Lives: A Memoir, by Diane Johnson and Small-Town Dreams: Stories of Midwestern Boys Who Shaped America, by John E. Miller Diane Johnson grew up in Moline, Illinois. Her father, originally from a small town in southeastern Iowa (Bloomfield), was a school principal and...

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Prosecution on Trial

A review of Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir, by Amanda Knox and Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox, by Raffaele Sollecito and Andrew Gumbel In the late evening of November 1, 2007, a young British student named Meredith Kercher was murdered in her bedroom in the apa...

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Battle Lines and Deadlines

A review of Hell Before Breakfast: America's First War Correspondents Making History and Headlines, from the Battlefields of the Civil War to the Far Reaches of the Ottoman Empire, by Robert H. Patton Robert H. Patton’s Hell Before Breakfast begins with William Howard Russell of th...

Work the Line

Michael Anton learns to transform the mundane into the sublime, one plate at a time.

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Euclid in a Nutshell

A review of The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements, by David Berlinski There are hosannas due in heaven—or better iai iais on Olympus—for a book in praise of Euclid, especially one as accessible, amusing, and enthusiastic as David Berlinski’s. “Euclid is unive...

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The So-What Question

A review of The Responsibility of Reason: Theory and Practice in a Liberal Democratic Age, by Ralph Hancock Modernity abounds in contradictions. How is it that human beings may be seen as appetite-satisfying machines on the basis of materialistic metaphysics and yet also be esteemed as subjects p...

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Diversity at What Cost

Strange how people become their opposites in America. The liberal of 30 years ago, who turned pale at the very thought of color-prejudice of any kind, has for some time now extoled the newest form of racial prejudice: diversity. Martin Luther King, Jr., is still his prophet, but for a distant land. ...

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Troubled Waters

A review of Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy, by Seth Cropsey Most Americans do not wake up every morning thinking about the United States Navy. It is probably fair to say that many Americans never think about the United States Navy. The very success of the Navy over many years goe...

Sorting out the Enlightenments

A review of The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments, by Gertrude Himmelfarb and The Portable Enlightenment Reader, edited by Isaac Kramnick  Fontenelle [was] the most representative of all the figures of the Enlightenment."  &mdash...

A Nation with the Soul of a School?

A review of The Crucible of Consent: American Child Rearing and the Forging of Liberal Society, by James E. Block In Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie, Pa takes his daughters Laura and Carrie to a Fourth of July celebration in a Dakota settlement. Laura keeps close t...

Creation Story

A review of Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, by Yossi Klein Halevi In Israel, where military service is compulsory and near-universal, the army serves as a melting pot in which religious, cultural, and political differences are...

Bride of Frankenstein

A review of How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain’s Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate, by Wendy Moore Although leaders of progressive education from the French Revolution to the free school movement of the 1960s have taken Jean-Jacques Roussea...

Highfalutin Abstractions

A review of College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, by Andrew Delbanco At last, universities are on the run. For at least a generation, conservatives of various descriptions have inveighed against them for, among other reasons, purveying anti-Americanism and doctrinaire Leftism under the gu...

Contraception Con

A review of Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, by Mary Eberstadt Everyone agrees that women are more educated, wealthy, and influential than ever before. Liberal author Hannah Rosin made the provocative case in her 2010 Atlantic cover article, "Th...

Philosopher Statesman

A review of Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome, by Robert Harris and Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome, by Robert Harris Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) has not fared well in the popular imagination over the course of the 20th and now the 21st centuries. The sniveling toad portraye...

Debating Originalism

A review of The Challenge of Originalism: Essays in Constitutional Theory, edited by Grant Huscroft and Bradley W. Miller The last few decades have witnessed a refinement of originalist theory since the late Robert Bork launched contemporary originalism with his 1971 Indiana Law Journal...

Slavery and the Liberal Aesthetic

The Abolitionist Imagination (The Alexis De Tocqueville Lectures on American Politics), by Andrew Delbanco John Brown, whose failed slave revolt at Harper's Ferry in 1859 hastened the coming of the Civil War, might best be described as "the abolitionist imagination" gone wild. Yet f...

In But Not Of

The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era, by Timothy S. Goeglein, and To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter Perhaps no other Washingtonian knows the Christian ...

Crime and Punishment

The City that Became Safe: New York's Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control (Studies in Crime and Public Policy), by Franklin E. Zimring, and The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz For the first time in nearly a century, debate about the proper response to crim...

Evangelicals and the Right

A review of From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism, by D. G. Hart A reliable Republican constituency in recent decades, evangelical Christian voters have been crucial contributors to GOP presidential victories since the Reagan Administration....

The Road Back to Liberty

When F.A. Hayek published The Road to Serfdom in the spring of 1944, the West had all but moved on from free markets. Some element of centralization—a planned economy at the very least—was considered the moderate "middle way" between the capitalism that had ...

Drifting Daughters

Let me begin with a disclaimer. I have been happily married to the same man for 30 years. I have worked as a lawyer at the same job for 33 years, most of them part-time while I raised our three children, all of whom grew up to be well-adjusted, successful adults. Although mine has been a blessed lif...

Philosophical Pragmatist in Chief?

A book review of Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition, by James T. Kloppenberg. Barack Obama is hardly the first liberal politician with an impressive academic pedigree to be celebrated as a savant. Michael Barone pointed out that Adlai Stevenson, the original &q...

More than a Pastime

A book review of Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation, by Andrea Wulf. John Adams never liked being ambassador or even president as much as he liked his garden in New England. In July 1775, he penned a letter to his beloved Abigail ...

Coming to America

A review of Letters from America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by Frederick Brown; andTocqueville's Discovery of America, by Leo Damrosch. Americans have always loved Tocqueville. We recall fondly, if somewhat inaccurately, his optimistic assessment of our enterprising spirit, so...

Give Peace a Chance?

There may be no symbol in American life more ubiquitous than the peace sign. Look carefully, and you will find it everywhere. No longer limited to pious bumper stickers and homemade psychedelic rally posters, the peace sign can be seen on children's apparel, clothing, accessories, jewelry, souve...

Another Vietnam

For almost half a century, the debate over the Vietnam War has been replayed endlessly between the defenders of the orthodoxy and the revisionists, with neither side making much headway with the other. The broad outlines of the debate are easy to lay out. The orthodox view permeated many of the most...

Founder of Modernity

A review of John Locke and Modern Life, by Lee Ward Consider modern life: metaphysics, once the backbone of the academy and the church, is now the coin of a very small realm within both. Knowledge is almost entirely an empirical affair, but at the same time it is rarely considered to transce...

The Case for Iowa

A review of Grassroots Rules: How the Iowa Caucus Helps Elect American Presidents, by Christopher Hull;  The Iowa Precinct Caucuses: The Making of a Media Event, by Hugh Winebrenner and Dennis J. Goldford; and Why Iowa?: How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nomi...

Hungering for Violence

A review of A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel, by Thanassis Cambanis In February 2009, I attended a massive rally in Beirut to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of Imad Mugniyah, a senior leader of the Shiite terrorist g...

Disease of Conceit

A review of Bob Dylan in America, by Sean Wilentz and Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, by David Yaffe Bob Dylan brings out the worst in scholars. The ambiguity of his lyrics, his lifelong, unapologetic promotion of his own myth, and his perpetual reinvention allow anyone with a litt...

Delightful Instruction

A review of Political Philosophy: An Introduction, Richard Stevens has not written one of those popular "how to" books that aim to explain something so even the least intelligent can understand. This is not "political philosophy for dummies." The political philosophy that...

In Every Generation...

A review of A New Shoah, by Giulio Meotti "We answered the call," a young man and his wife told me in 2004, two years after the man's sister, her husband, and their child were brutally murdered on an Israeli road, leaving nine other children orphaned. I visited with the couple,...

Freedom's March

A review of Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery, by Seymour Drescher When it was founded in 1998, the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded to the best book on the history of slavery by Yale's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, had few...

Churchill at War

A review of Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1874-1945, by Carlo D’Este and Winston's War: Churchill, 1940-1945 (Vintage), by Max Hastings We have been told more about Winston Churchill than any other human being," writes Max Hastings. Tens of thousands of pe...

All-American

A review of Henry Clay: The Essential American, by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler Henry Clay presents a paradox. Modern Americans have forgotten Clay while remembering Andrew Jackson, his contemporary and rival. Clay's remarkably long career in American government, however, made ...

Washington Square

Henry James's short novel Washington Square is about Dr. Austin Sloper, a resident of that Square in New York City, who cannot persuade his daughter Cath­erine not to marry Morris Townsend, whom he correctly regards as an idle mercenary. Although he is a successful doctor he fails ...

Washington's Virtues

A review of George Washington: America's First Progressive, by W. B. Allen; The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, by John Ferling; The Political Philosophy of George Washington , by Jeffry H. Morrison In the rousing conclusion of...

Wrong Answer

A review of A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq , by Mark Moyar Mark Moyar's A Question of Command seeks to establish leadership as the decisive element in counterinsurgency and to make the case that history is the principal means by which t...

The Great Healer

A review of Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds, by Joel L. Kraemer Joel Kraemer's Maimonides is a splendid achievement, a truly critical biography of one of the greatest minds ever to grace the planet. Kraemer's aptly chosen subtitle ...

Be Prepared

A review of The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu and the Coming Pandemic, by Alan Sipress Last year pandemic influenza—specifically the H1N1, or swine flu, variety, which has killed about 10,000 Americans to date—garnered its share of headlines. Despite the Bush Administra...

Lessons from Venus

A review of La pensée française à l'épreuve de l'Europe, by Justine Lacroix Americans have long believed that what happens in the Old World matters to us. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson quarreled bitterly over the French Revolution in part because they bo...

The Heroic Effort of Booker T. Washington

A review of Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington, by Robert J. Norrell It is almost certainly the case that Booker T. Washington was the best known and most popular black man America ever produced until the middle of the 20th century. And yet in his lifetime and afterwards, his ...

The Case of Jefferson and Hemings

A review of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed and In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal, by William G. Hyland, Jr. Was Thomas Jefferson the father of slave children? If so, was one of his household slaves Sally Hemings a wil...

Lives of Johnson

A review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography, by Peter Martin, Jr. and Samuel Johnson: The Struggle, by Jeffrey Meyers In June 1800, the Monthly Review wrote of the recently deceased writer Horace Walpole, "we have heard many of his friends express a wish that he had found a ...

Quarreling with God

A review of Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew , edited by Sharon Portnoff, James A. Diamond, and Martin D. Yaffe Emil Fackenheim has appeared before the public in various personae. In his early years he was best known as a "neo-orthodox theologian" whose message...

Necessity Knows No Law

Abraham Lincoln's hold on the American imagination remains as firm as ever. He routinely wins the top spot on those lists of "greatness" conducted by presidential historians, and the torrent of Lincoln scholarship continues unabated. There are dissenters, to be sure—mostly libert...

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