The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson

Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Book It

Due to underwhelming (sic) demand, I have decided to chirp a monthly recommend books that I have recently read that I think are noteworthy or illuminative. While these books may not always be current, when they are not, I consider them oldies but goodies. The book hyperlink takes you to the Amazon web page for the book, while the italicized quotes after the book title are from the dust jacket of the book, the Amazon website description of the book, or from the Goodreads website. For some of these books that I have found very interesting and informative, I have written my own commentary after the italicized quotes. For a more extensive list of the books that I have read throughout my life please review my article “Further Readings and Literature”.

06/01/24 Absurdism

Albert Camus (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was a French philosopher, author, dramatist, journalist, world federalist, and political activist. He was the recipient of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, the second-youngest recipient in history. His works include The Stranger, The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Fall, and The Rebel.

Camus was a moralist; he claimed morality should guide politics. While he did not deny that morals change over time, he rejected the classical Marxist view that historical material relations define morality. Philosophically, Camus' views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as Absurdism (a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail). Some consider Camus' work to show him to be an existentialist, even though he himself firmly rejected the term throughout his lifetime.

Camus was also strongly critical of Marxism-Leninism, especially in the case of the Soviet Union, which he considered totalitarian. Camus rebuked those sympathetic to the Soviet model and their "decision to call total servitude freedom". A proponent of libertarian socialism, he claimed the USSR was not socialist and the United States was not liberal. His critique of the USSR caused him to clash with others on the political left, most notably with his on-again, off-again friend Jean-Paul Sartre.

On March 28, 1946, Albert Camus game a speech at Columbia University’s McMillin Theater on “The Human Crisis”. On that night, in less than thirty minutes, he somehow managed to distill and convey his deepest fears and steepest challenges in words that have lost none of their urgency or relevance in the over 75 years since he spoke to them.

While I do not hold many of Camus’s political beliefs, I do believe that his philosophical musings are worthy of serious consideration. I would also direct you to the Wisdom Trove quotes of Albert Camus to gain a better insight into his thoughts and musings. The following books are also a good introduction to the life and thoughts of Albert Camus, and I would suggest that you read these books in the order in which I have listed them.

  • Albert Camus: Elements of a Life by Robert D. Zaretsky
    “Like many others of my generation, I first read Camus in high school. I carried him in my backpack while traveling across Europe, I carried him into (and out of) relationships, and I carried him into (and out of) difficult periods of my life. More recently, I have carried him into university classes that I have taught, coming out of them with a renewed appreciation of his art. To be sure, my idea of Camus thirty years ago scarcely resembles my idea of him today. While my admiration and attachment to his writings remain as great as they were long ago, the reasons are more complicated and critical.―Robert Zaretsky

    On October 16, 1957, Albert Camus was dining in a small restaurant on Paris's Left Bank when a waiter approached him with news: the radio had just announced that Camus had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Camus insisted that a mistake had been made and that others were far more deserving of the honor than he. Yet Camus was already recognized around the world as the voice of a generation―a status he had achieved with dizzying speed. He published his first novel, The Stranger, in 1942 and emerged from the war as the spokesperson for the Resistance and, although he consistently rejected the label, for existentialism. Subsequent works of fiction (including the novels The Plague and The Fall), philosophy (notably, The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel), drama, and social criticism secured his literary and intellectual reputation. And then on January 4, 1960, three years after accepting the Nobel Prize, he was killed in a car accident.

    In a book distinguished by clarity and passion, Robert Zaretsky considers why Albert Camus mattered in his own lifetime and continues to matter today, focusing on key moments that shaped Camus's development as a writer, a public intellectual, and a man. Each chapter is devoted to a specific event: Camus's visit to Kabylia in 1939 to report on the conditions of the local Berber tribes; his decision in 1945 to sign a petition to commute the death sentence of collaborationist writer Robert Brasillach; his famous quarrel with Jean-Paul Sartre in 1952 over the nature of communism; and his silence about the war in Algeria in 1956.

    Both engaged and engaging, Albert Camus: Elements of a Life is a searching companion to a profoundly moral and lucid writer whose works provide a guide for those perplexed by the absurdity of the human condition and the world's resistance to meaning.”
  • A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning by Robert Zaretsky
    In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Albert Camus declared that a writer's duty is twofold: "the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance against oppression." These twin obsessions help explain something of Camus' remarkable character, which is the overarching subject of this sympathetic and lively book. Through an exploration of themes that preoccupied Camus--absurdity, silence, revolt, fidelity, and moderation--Robert Zaretsky portrays a moralist who refused to be fooled by the nobler names we assign to our actions, and who pushed himself, and those about him, to challenge the status quo.

    Though we do not face the same dangers that threatened Europe when Camus wrote The Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger, we confront other alarms. Herein lies Camus' abiding significance. Reading his work, we become more thoughtful observers of our own lives. For Camus, rebellion is an eternal human condition, a timeless struggle against injustice that makes life worth living. But rebellion is also bounded by self-imposed constraints--it is a noble if impossible ideal. Such a contradiction suggests that if there is no reason for hope, there is also no occasion for despair--a sentiment perhaps better suited for the ancient tragedians than modern political theorists but one whose wisdom abides. Yet we must not venerate suffering, Camus cautions: the world's beauty demands our attention no less than life's train of injustices. That recognition permits him to declare: "It was the middle of winter, I finally realized that, within me, summer was inextinguishable."


  • Albert Camus and the Human Crisis by Robert E. Meagher
    A renowned scholar investigates the "human crisis” that Albert Camus confronted in his world and in ours, producing a brilliant study of Camus’s life and influence for those readers who, in Camus's words, “cannot live without dialogue and friendship.”

    As France—and all of the world—was emerging from the depths of World War II, Camus summed up what he saw as "the human crisis”:

    We gasp for air among people who believe they are absolutely right, whether it be in their machines or their ideas. And for all who cannot live without dialogue and the friendship of other human beings, this silence is the end of the world.

    In the years after he wrote these words, until his death fourteen years later, Camus labored to address this crisis, arguing for dialogue, understanding, clarity, and truth. When he sailed to New York, in March 1946—for his first and only visit to the United States—he found an ebullient nation celebrating victory. Camus warned against the common postwar complacency that took false comfort in the fact that Hitler was dead and the Third Reich had fallen. Yes, the serpentine beast was dead, but “we know perfectly well,” he argued, “that the venom is not gone, that each of us carries it in our own hearts.” All around him in the postwar world, Camus saw disheartening evidence of a global community revealing a heightened indifference to a number of societal ills. It is the same indifference to human suffering that we see all around, and within ourselves, today.

    Camus’s voice speaks like few others to the heart of an affliction that infects our country and our world, a world divided against itself. His generation called him “the conscience of Europe.” That same voice speaks to us and our world today with a moral integrity and eloquence so sorely lacking in the public arena.

    Few authors, sixty years after their deaths, have more avid readers, across more continents, than Albert Camus. Camus has never been a trend, a fad, or just a good read. He was always and still is a companion, a guide, a challenge, and a light in darkened times. This keenly insightful story of an intellectual is an ideal volume for those readers who are first discovering Camus, as well as a penetrating exploration of the author for all those who imagine they have already plumbed Camus’ depths—a supremely timely book on an author whose time has come once again.”

05/01/24 Wisdom Par Excellence

Thomas Sowell, (born June 30, 1930) is an American economist, social philosopher, and political commentator. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. With widely published commentary and books—and as a guest on TV and radio—he became a well-known voice in the American conservative movement as a prominent black conservative. He was a recipient of the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush in 2002.

He is also one of the wisest people I have ever encountered in my readings. His wisdom goes beyond economics, but economics is the foundation of his wisdom. Three books of his wisdom are this month’s Book It selections, which all Americans should read to increase their own wisdom.

  • Social Justice Fallacies by Thomas Sowell
    “In this instant New York Times bestseller, renowned economist Thomas Sowell demolishes the myths that underpin the social justice movement.

    The quest for social justice is a powerful crusade of our time, with an appeal to many different people, for many different reasons. But those who use the same words do not always present the same meanings. Clarifying those meanings is the first step toward finding out what we agree on and disagree on. From there, it is largely a question of what the facts are. Social Justice Fallacies reveals how many things that are thought to be true simply cannot stand up to documented facts, which are often the opposite of what is widely believed.

    However attractive the social justice vision, the crucial question is whether the social justice agenda will get us to the fulfillment of that vision. History shows that the social justice agenda has often led in the opposite direction, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

    More things are involved besides simply mistakes. All human beings are fallible, and social justice advocates may not necessarily make any more mistakes than others. But crusaders with an utter certainty about their mission are often undeterred by obstacles, evidence or even fatal dangers. That is where much of the Western world is today. The question is whether we will continue on heedlessly, past the point of no return.”
  • Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell
    “This title offers a withering and clear-eyed critique about (but not for) intellectuals that explores their impact on public opinion, policy, and society at large. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those power holders accept the general vision or the particular policies favored by intellectuals. In "Intellectuals and Society", Thomas Sowell not only examines the track record of intellectuals in the things they have advocated but also analyzes the incentives and constraints under which their views and visions have emerged. Ultimately, he shows how often intellectuals have been proved not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society.”
  • The Best of Thomas Sowell by Dean Kalahar
    “The Best of Thomas Sowell is a detailed compilation of his remarkable career in thought. Inside you will discover Dr. Sowell’s most important writings from his numerous books and widely popular Op-eds. Sorted by over 130 topics, Sowell’s lifetime of academic research, brilliance, and ability to explain complex subjects in an easy-to-understand style is a treasure of information at your fingertips. The Best of Thomas Sowell is a resource you will turn to time and time again for facts, analysis, and wisdom from one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.”

04/01/24 The Aftermath of the Civil War

The Reconstruction Era of 1865-1877 was a period in United States history following the American Civil War, which was dominated by the legal, social, and political challenges of abolishing slavery and reintegrating the former Confederate States of America into the United States. During this period, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were added to the United States Constitution, along with a variety of Civil Rights legislation, to end slavery and grant equal civil rights to the newly freed slaves.

The Reconstruction Era was fraught with controversy, intense political infighting, civil strife and violence, as well as financial corruption. It has been interpreted and reinterpreted by historians and legal scholars to this day. I would recommend the following four books to gain a better understanding of the Reconstruction Era.

  • Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo
    “The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful of challenges.

    In Fateful Lightning, two-time Lincoln Prize-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo offers a marvelous portrait of the Civil War and its era, covering not only the major figures and epic battles, but also politics, religion, gender, race, diplomacy, and technology. And unlike other surveys of the Civil War era, it extends the reader's vista to include the postwar Reconstruction period and discusses the modern-day legacy of the Civil War in American literature and popular culture. Guelzo also puts the conflict in a global perspective, underscoring Americans' acute sense of the vulnerability of their republic in a world of monarchies. He examines the strategy, the tactics, and especially the logistics of the Civil War and brings the most recent historical thinking to bear on emancipation, the presidency and the war powers, the blockade and international law, and the role of intellectuals, North and South.

    Written by a leading authority on our nation's most searing crisis, Fateful Lightning offers a vivid and original account of an event whose echoes continue with Americans to this day.”
  • Reconstruction: A Concise History by Allen C. Guelzo
    “The era known as Reconstruction is one of the unhappiest times in American history. It succeeded in reuniting the nation politically after the Civil War but in little else. Conflict shifted from the battlefield to the Capitol as Congress warred with President Andrew Johnson over just what to do with the South. Johnson's plan of Presidential Reconstruction, which was sympathetic to the former Confederacy and allowed repressive measures such as the "black codes," would ultimately lead to his impeachment and the institution of Radical Reconstruction.

    While Reconstruction saw the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments, expanding the rights and suffrage of African Americans, it largely failed to chart a progressive course for race relations after the abolition of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. It also struggled to manage the Southern resistance towards a Northern free-labor economy. However, these failures cannot obscure a number of accomplishments with long-term consequences for American life, among them the Civil Rights Act, the election of the first African American representatives to Congress, and the avoidance of renewed civil war. Reconstruction suffered from poor leadership and uncertainty of direction, but it also laid the groundwork for renewed struggles for racial equality during the civil rights movement.

    In this concise history, award-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo delves into the constitutional, political, and social issues behind Reconstruction to provide a lucid and original account of a historical moment that left an indelible mark on the American social fabric.”

  •  A Short History of Reconstruction [Updated Edition] by Eric Foner
    “From the "preeminent historian of Reconstruction" (New York Times Book Review), the prize-winning classic work on the post-Civil War period that shaped modern America.

    Eric Foner's "masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history" (New Republic) redefined how the post-Civil War period was viewed.

    Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans—black and white—responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the ways in which the emancipated slaves' quest for economic autonomy and equal citizenship shaped the political agenda of Reconstruction; the remodeling of Southern society and the place of planters, merchants, and small farmers within it; the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations; and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.

    This "smart book of enormous strengths" (Boston Globe) remains the standard work on the wrenching post-Civil War period—an era whose legacy still reverberates in the United States today.”
  • The Era of Reconstruction 1865-1877 by Kenneth M. Stampp
    “Stampp's classic work offers a revisionist explanation for the radical failure to achieve equality for blacks, and of the effect that Conservative rule had on the subsequent development of the South. Refuting former schools of thought, Stampp challenges the notions that slavery was somehow just a benign aspect of Southern culture, and how the failures during the reconstruction period created a ripple effect that is still seen today.”

The Era of Reconstruction 1865-1877 by Kenneth M. Stampp is a classic work that started the modern historical view of the Reconstruction Era. However, it still holds up well today and is useful in understanding the previous (incorrect) historical views of the Reconstruction Era.

03/01/24 Supreme Civil War Scholarship

If you are desirous of reading one book that encompasses the American Civil War period, then this month’s Book It selection is the one book I would recommend. It is the definitive one-volume history of the American Civil War, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and after reading this book you will have a comprehensive understanding of the Civil War. At almost 900 pages it is a tome that is well worth the read, and it is understandable to the general public. Not only is it a history of the Civil War, but it is a history to the immediate events that preceded the Civil War (indeed, the firing on Fort Sumter that began the hostilities is not mentioned until about one-third of the way through the book). Thus, this is the one book that all people interested in the Civil War must read.

  • Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
    “Filled with fresh interpretations and information, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Battle Cry of Freedom will unquestionably become the standard one-volume history of the Civil War.

    James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War--the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry--and then moves into a masterful chronicle of the war itself--the battles, the strategic maneuvering on both sides, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are McPherson's new views on such matters as the slavery expansion issue in the 1850s, the origins of the Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons for the Union's victory.

    The book's title refers to the sentiments that informed both the Northern and Southern views of the conflict: the South seceded in the name of that freedom of self-determination and self-government for which their fathers had fought in 1776, while the North stood fast in defense of the Union founded by those fathers as the bulwark of American liberty. Eventually, the North had to grapple with the underlying cause of the war--slavery--and adopt a policy of emancipation as a second war aim. This "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln called it, constitutes the proudest legacy of America's bloodiest conflict.

    This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "second American Revolution" we call the Civil War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty.”

Professor McPherson has also issued an illustrated version of this book, Battle Cry of Freedom-Illustrated, that contains hundreds of illustrations and photos that admirably enhance the excellent text of the book. He has also edited one of the finest books that maps the battles of the Civil War, The Atlas of the Civil War, that is a comprehensive atlas that covers all of the major campaigns of the Civil War, offering more than 180 full-color maps full of details concerning topography and troop movement, hundreds of photographs, eyewitness accounts, and a thorough text.

02/01/24 Civil War Perspectives

Why people go to war, why they persist in war despite the deaths, disease, and destruction, and how they feel after victory or defeat after fighting so hard is best expressed by the people that did so. Prior to the nineteenth century there is little historical information about what the people thought about the war. However, with the rise of a free press that could praise or criticize the events of the war, and the extensive letter writing between those that fought the war and the those that remained on the home front, The American Civil War was a sea change in the volume of the historical information about what the people thought about the war. This month’s Book It selections examine the Civil War from the perspective of the people who fought the war and those that stayed behind at home.

  • The Union War by Gary W. Gallagher
    “Even one hundred and fifty years later, we are haunted by the Civil War—by its division, its bloodshed, and perhaps, above all, by its origins. Today, many believe that the war was fought over slavery. This answer satisfies our contemporary sense of justice, but as Gary Gallagher shows in this brilliant revisionist history, it is an anachronistic judgment.

    In a searing analysis of the Civil War North as revealed in contemporary letters, diaries, and documents, Gallagher demonstrates that what motivated the North to go to war and persist in an increasingly bloody effort was primarily preservation of the Union. Devotion to the Union bonded nineteenth-century Americans in the North and West against a slaveholding aristocracy in the South and a Europe that seemed destined for oligarchy. Northerners believed they were fighting to save the republic, and with it the world’s best hope for democracy.

    Once we understand the centrality of union, we can in turn appreciate the force that made northern victory possible: the citizen-soldier. Gallagher reveals how the massive volunteer army of the North fought to confirm American exceptionalism by salvaging the Union. Contemporary concerns have distorted the reality of nineteenth-century Americans, who embraced emancipation primarily to punish secessionists and remove slavery as a future threat to union—goals that emerged in the process of war. As Gallagher recovers why and how the Civil War was fought, we gain a more honest understanding of why and how it was won.”


    The Confederate War by Gary W. Gallagher
    “If one is to believe contemporary historians, the South never had a chance. Many allege that the Confederacy lost the Civil War because of internal division or civilian disaffection; others point to flawed military strategy or ambivalence over slavery. But, argues distinguished historian Gary Gallagher, we should not ask why the Confederacy collapsed so soon but rather how it lasted so long. In The Confederate War he reexamines the Confederate experience through the actions and words of the people who lived it to show how the home front responded to the war, endured great hardships, and assembled armies that fought with tremendous spirit and determination.

    Gallagher's portrait highlights a powerful sense of Confederate patriotism and unity in the face of a determined adversary. Drawing on letters, diaries, and newspapers of the day, he shows that Southerners held not only an unflagging belief in their way of life, which sustained them to the bitter end, but also a widespread expectation of victory and a strong popular will closely attuned to military events. In fact, the army's "offensive-defensive" strategy came remarkably close to triumph, claims Gallagher--in contrast to the many historians who believe that a more purely defensive strategy or a guerrilla resistance could have won the war for the South. To understand why the South lost, Gallagher says we need look no further than the war itself: after a long struggle that brought enormous loss of life and property, Southerners finally realized that they had been beaten on the battlefield.

    Gallagher's interpretation of the Confederates and their cause boldly challenges current historical thinking and invites readers to reconsider their own conceptions of the American Civil War.”

  • The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis by Gary W. Gallagher
    “In the seventy-three succinct essays gathered in The Enduring Civil War, celebrated historian Gary W. Gallagher highlights the complexity and richness of the war, from its origins to its memory, as topics for study, contemplation, and dispute. He places contemporary understanding of the Civil War, both academic and general, in conversation with testimony from those in the Union and the Confederacy who experienced and described it, investigating how mid-nineteenth-century perceptions align with, or deviate from, current ideas regarding the origins, conduct, and aftermath of the war. The tension between history and memory forms a theme throughout the essays, underscoring how later perceptions about the war often took precedence over historical reality in the minds of many Americans.


    The array of topics Gallagher addresses is striking. He examines notable books and authors, both Union and Confederate, military and civilian, famous and lesser known. He discusses historians who, though their names have receded with time, produced works that remain pertinent in terms of analysis or information. He comments on conventional interpretations of events and personalities, challenging, among other things, commonly held notions about Gettysburg and Vicksburg as decisive turning points, Ulysses S. Grant as a general who profligately wasted Union manpower, the Gettysburg Address as a watershed that turned the war from a fight for Union into one for Union and emancipation, and Robert E. Lee as an old-fashioned general ill-suited to waging a modern mid-nineteenth-century war. Gallagher interrogates recent scholarly trends on the evolving nature of Civil War studies, addressing crucial questions about chronology, history, memory, and the new revisionist literature. The format of this provocative and timely collection lends itself to sampling, and readers might start in any of the subject groupings and go where their interests take them.”

01/01/24 Tis the Season of Fear and Negativity

As we have passed the holiday season, we are now entering into the season of Presidential politics and elections. This is a season in which fear is the most common emotion, stoked by the candidates and their supporters engaging in negative campaigning. Much of this fear is engendered by Identity Politics, along with an undercurrent of negativity on American and Western ideals and ideas of the foundation and structure of our government and society.

Douglas Kear Murray is a British author and political commentator. He founded the Centre for Social Cohesion in 2007, which became part of the Henry Jackson Society, where he was associate director from 2011 to 2018. He is also an associate editor of the conservative-leaning British political and cultural magazine The Spectator. Murray has also written columns for publications such as The Wall Street Journal. His book on the madness of crowds contains a fundamental truth that many Americans have forgotten: treat people as individuals and reject those who would try to reduce them to membership of a group they belonged to solely by accident of birth. His book on anti-Western notions is an impassioned defense of Western culture, institutions, and politics and why it should not be a thought crime to still believe in and, indeed, defend them. His penetrating analysis of the incorrectness of Islamophobia, and the fear of being labeled as Islamophobic, is a wakeup call for not confronting the wrongs of Islamism.

This month’s Book It selections are an examination of these fears and negativities that are permeating our society.

  • The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray
    Are we living through the great derangement of our times?

    In The Madness of Crowds Douglas Murray investigates the dangers of ‘woke’ culture and the rise of identity politics. In lively, razor-sharp prose he examines the most controversial issues of our moment: sexuality, gender, technology and race, with interludes on the Marxist foundations of ‘wokeness’, the impact of tech and how, in an increasingly online culture, we must relearn the ability to forgive.

    One of the few writers who dares to counter the prevailing view and question the dramatic changes in our society – from gender reassignment for children to the impact of transgender rights on women – Murray’s penetrating book, now published with a new afterword taking account of the book’s reception and responding to the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, clears a path of sanity through the fog of our modern predicament.”

  • The War on the West by Douglas Murray
    “China has concentration camps now. Why do Westerners claim our sins are unique?

    It is now in vogue to celebrate non-Western cultures and disparage Western ones. Some of this is a much-needed reckoning, but much of it fatally undermines the very things that created the greatest, most humane civilization in the world.

    In The War on the West, Douglas Murray shows how many well-meaning people have been fooled by hypocritical and inconsistent anti-West rhetoric. After all, if we must discard the ideas of Kant, Hume, and Mill for their opinions on race, shouldn’t we discard Marx, whose work is peppered with racial slurs and anti-Semitism? Embers of racism remain to be stamped out in America, but what about the raging racist inferno in the Middle East and Asia?

    It’s not just dishonest scholars who benefit from this intellectual fraud but hostile nations and human rights abusers hoping to distract from their own ongoing villainy. Dictators who slaughter their own people are happy to jump on the “America is a racist country” bandwagon and mimic the language of antiracism and “pro-justice” movements as PR while making authoritarian conquests.

    If the West is to survive, it must be defended.The War on the West is not only an incisive takedown of foolish anti-Western arguments but also a rigorous new apologetic for civilization itself.”

  • Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady by Douglas Murray
    In this 2013 book (now reissued for the first time) bestselling author and broadcaster Douglas Murray, with trademark wit, delivers an alarming analysis of the post-9/11 world. It is a devastating satire on the climate of fear in the West today. Murray’s analysis is wildly entertaining yet ultimately profound:“If absolutely everybody in the world agrees on something – from the President of the United States to most film-stars, pop-stars, Popes, Bishops, atheists, writers, film-makers, brain-boxes and everyone else – then surely they must be right. Well, no. I think they are wrong. Wildly, terribly, embarrassingly and dangerously wrong, writes Murray.

    ISLAMOPHILIA shows how so many of the celebrities above, have, at some point chosen to abandon any hope or wish to criticize Islam and instead decided to profess some degree of love for it. Love, that Murray points out in the book, is often irrational and certainly misguided: Murray is not afraid to name and shame, and the book’s tour includes Sebastian Faulks and Martin Amis, Boris Johnson, South Park, Tony Blair, Ridley Scott, David Cameron, Liam Neeson, Justin Bieber, Random House Publishers, the BBC, Richard Dawkins, the Prince of Wales and even George Bush. Yes, George Bush.

    They may have done this for a range of good and bad reasons. Some of them have to done it to save other people. Some of them have done it to save themselves. Some of them have done it because they are too stupid to do anything else and others because clever people can be really dumb at times. Murray goes on to detail the extraordinary strategic cultural efforts made in recent years to “rewrite the last few millennia of history, minimising and denigrating the impact of actual scientists and promoting the claims of Islamic proselytisers. And he has fighting words for the version of history depicted by Ridley Scott and others in Hollywood.Artists and writers have been caught off-guard, he alleges, “Having poked at empty hornets nests for so many years they have forgotten the courage required to do the necessary poking at full ones.”

    He concludes, “Let’s be clear. For the record I don’t think everybody needs to spend their time being offensive about Islam. Not only is there no need to be offensive all the time, but most Muslims just want to get on with their lives as peacefully and successfully as everybody else. But there is an un-evenness in our societies that needs to be righted…to think that the answer to any criticism of Islam or Muslims is a delegitimizing of critics and an indulgence in self-pity is not to make an advance. It is to pave the way for self-harm. For all of us.

    Where people are telling lies we should not be fearful to correct them. And where people are fearful – and genuine reasons to be so do keep coming along – people should remind themselves of something. Which is that just as bravery in one person instills bravery in others, so cowardice in one person has a tendency to be catching
    .”

12/01/23 Christendom

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this month, I would recommend two books that examine the importance of Christendom to the world, how it has positively impacted civilization, and how the abandonment of Christian ideals has been detrimental to our modern world as I have written in my article on How Christianity Transformed the World.

  • Dominion by Tom Holland
    “Crucifixion, the Romans believed, was the worst fate imaginable, a punishment reserved for slaves. How astonishing it was, then, that people should have come to believe that one particular victim of crucifixion -- an obscure provincial by the name of Jesus -- was to be worshipped as a god. Dominion explores the implications of this shocking conviction as they have reverberated throughout history. Today, the West remains utterly saturated by Christian assumptions. As Tom Holland demonstrates, our morals and ethics are not universal but are instead the fruits of a very distinctive civilization. Concepts such as secularism, liberalism, science, and homosexuality are deeply rooted in a Christian seedbed. From Babylon to the Beatles, Saint Michael to #MeToo, Dominion tells the story of how Christianity transformed the modern world.”

  • The War on the West by Douglas Murray
    It is now in vogue to celebrate non-Western cultures and disparage Western ones. Some of this is a much-needed reckoning, but much of it fatally undermines the very things that created the greatest, most humane civilization in the world.

    In The War on the West, Douglas Murray shows how many well-meaning people have been fooled by hypocritical and inconsistent anti-West rhetoric. After all, if we must discard the ideas of Kant, Hume, and Mill for their opinions on race, shouldn’t we discard Marx, whose work is peppered with racial slurs and anti-Semitism? Embers of racism remain to be stamped out in America, but what about the raging racist inferno in the Middle East and Asia?

    It’s not just dishonest scholars who benefit from this intellectual fraud but hostile nations and human rights abusers hoping to distract from their own ongoing villainy. Dictators who slaughter their own people are happy to jump on the “America is a racist country” bandwagon and mimic the language of antiracism and “pro-justice” movements as PR while making authoritarian conquests.

    If the West is to survive, it must be defended. The War on the West is not only an incisive takedown of foolish anti-Western arguments but also a rigorous new apologetic for civilization itself.”

I would also recommend a book that examines how a belief in God does not necessarily contradict a belief in science. I firmly believe that science is the best way of explaining the physical properties and laws of the universe. I also firmly believe that God created our universe and established its physical properties and laws. And I see no conflict between the views of Science and Religion, as I have written in my article “Science versus Religion”. Science is the explanation of how God created the universe, and God is the explanation of why we have the physical properties and physical laws of the universe. This book examines why a belief in an Intelligent Designer does not conflict with science and has a scientific basis.

  • Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe by Stephen C. Meyer
    China has concentration camps now. Why do Westerners claim our sins are unique?

    Beginning in the late 19th century, many intellectuals began to insist that scientific knowledge conflicts with traditional theistic belief—that science and belief in God are “at war.” Philosopher of science Stephen Meyer challenges this view by examining three scientific discoveries with decidedly theistic implications. Building on the case for the intelligent design of life that he developed in Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt, Meyer demonstrates how discoveries in cosmology and physics coupled with those in biology help to establish the identity of the designing intelligence behind life and the universe.

    Meyer argues that theism—with its affirmation of a transcendent, intelligent and active creator—best explains the evidence we have concerning biological and cosmological origins. Previously Meyer refrained from attempting to answer questions about “who” might have designed life. Now he provides an evidence-based answer to perhaps the ultimate mystery of the universe. In so doing, he reveals a stunning conclusion: the data support not just the existence of an intelligent designer of some kind—but the existence of a personal God.”

11/01/23 Abortion, Transgenderism, Same-Sex Marriage, and Assisted Suicide

In my article, “The Rights of Abortion, Homosexual Marriage, Transgendered, and Assisted Suicide” I examine these rights and their dichotomy between individual and society rights. As these topics are deep and nuanced, they deserve to be considered in depth. This month’s Book It are about these four topics that provide the depth and nuance to fully understand these topics. While I have mentioned these books in my article, I believe that they are deserving of a Book It recommendation as these books are an intellectual, philosophical, and reasoned discourse on these topics. For those who are interested in a dispassionate analysis of these topics I would highly recommend these three books. These books will inform you on what you need to know, not what you want to hear, a practice that I have endeavored to keep all my adult life.

Ryan Timothy Anderson (born 1981) is an American conservative political philosopher who is best known for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. He is also a conservative voice in the issues and concerns about the transgender movement. He has authored or co-authored three books about these topics, that present a rational and reasonable conservative perspective on these topics. For those who are interested in a dispassionate analysis of these topics I would highly recommend these three books. These books will inform you on what you need to know, not what you want to here, a practice that I have endeavored to keep all my adult life.

Ryan T. Anderson is currently president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He was previously the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and the founder and editor-in-chief of Public Discourse, the Witherspoon Institute's online journal.

  • Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing by Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis
    Hope in the Ruins of Roe

    Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and returned abortion law to the democratic process, a powerful new book reframes the coming debate: Our fifty-year experiment with unlimited abortion has harmed everyone—even its most passionate proponents.

    Women, men, families, the law, politics, medicine, the media—and, of course, children (born and unborn)—have all been brutalized by the culture of death fostered by Roe v. Wade.

    Abortion hollows out marriage and the family. It undermines the rule of law and corrupts our political system. It turns healers into executioners and “women’s health” into a euphemism for extermination.

    Ryan T. Anderson, a compelling and reasoned voice in our most contentious cultural debates, and the pro-life journalist Alexandra DeSanctis expose the false promises of the abortion movement and explain why it has made everything worse. Five decades after Roe, everyone has an opinion about abortion. But after reading Tearing Us Apart, no one will think about it in the same way.

  • When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment by Ryan T. Anderson
    Can a boy be “trapped” in a girl’s body? Can modern medicine “reassign” sex? Is our sex “assigned” to us in the first place? What is the most loving response to a person experiencing a conflicted sense of gender? What should our law say on matters of “gender identity”?

    When Harry Became Sally provides thoughtful answers to questions arising from our transgender moment. Drawing on the best insights from biology, psychology, and philosophy, Ryan Anderson offers a nuanced view of human embodiment, a balanced approach to public policy on gender identity, and a sober assessment of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.

    This book exposes the contrast between the media’s sunny depiction of gender fluidity and the often sad reality of living with gender dysphoria. It gives a voice to people who tried to “transition” by changing their bodies, and found themselves no better off. Especially troubling are the stories told by adults who were encouraged to transition as children but later regretted subjecting themselves to those drastic procedures.

    As Anderson shows, the most beneficial therapies focus on helping people accept themselves and live in harmony with their bodies. This understanding is vital for parents with children in schools where counselors may steer a child toward transitioning behind their backs.

    Everyone has something at stake in the controversies over transgender ideology, when misguided “antidiscrimination” policies allow biological men into women’s restrooms and penalize Americans who hold to the truth about human nature. Anderson offers a strategy for pushing back with principle and prudence, compassion and grace.

  • What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Gergis, Ryan T. Anderson, Robert P. George
    Until very recently, no society had seen marriage as anything other than a conjugal partnership: a male–female union. What Is Marriage? identifies and defends the reasons for this historic consensus and shows why redefining civil marriage as something other than the conjugal union of husband and wife is a mistake.

    Originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, this book’s core argument quickly became the year’s most widely read essay on the most prominent scholarly network in the social sciences. Since then, it has been cited and debated by scholars and activists throughout the world as the most formidable defense of the tradition ever written. Now revamped, expanded, and vastly enhanced, What Is Marriage? stands poised to meet its moment as few books of this generation have.

    Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George offer a devastating critique of the idea that equality requires redefining marriage. They show why both sides must first answer the question of what marriage really is. They defend the principle that marriage, as a comprehensive union of mind and body ordered to family life, unites a man and a woman as husband and wife, and they document the social value of applying this principle in law.

    Most compellingly, they show that those who embrace same-sex civil marriage leave no firm ground—none—for not recognizing every relationship describable in polite English, including polyamorous sexual unions, and that enshrining their view would further erode the norms of marriage, and hence the common good.

    Finally, What Is Marriage? decisively answers common objections: that the historic view is rooted in bigotry, like laws forbidding interracial marriage; that it is callous to people’s needs; that it can’t show the harm of recognizing same-sex couplings or the point of recognizing infertile ones; and that it treats a mere “social construct” as if it were natural or an unreasoned religious view as if it were rational.

Dr. Kevin Yuill, who is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Sunderland Department of Culture and holds a Doctor of Philosophy. While Professor Yuill concludes that Assisted Suicide should not be legalized, he does this by rationally examining both sides of this issue to reach his conclusion. While you may not agree with his conclusion, the points, and counterpoints he makes, both for and against Assisted Suicide, are food for thought.

  • Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization” by Kevin Yuill
    “This book presents an atheistic case against the legalization of assisted suicide. Critical of both sides of the argument, it questions the assumptions behind the discussion. Yuill shows that our attitudes towards suicide – not euthanasia – are most important to our attitudes towards assisted suicide.”

10/01/23 The Mythologies of Progressivism

As I have noted in my Chirp on "08/25/23 The Progressive Myths of Science and History", Progressives rely on the “facts” and “truths” of science and history to buttress their ideology. However, they pick and choose tidbits of facts and truths and surround them with their ideology rather than elucidating all the facts and truths. In doing so, they are corrupting science and history and creating myths of science and history, which they propagate to an unknowing public. This month’s Book It selections examine some of these Progressive myths, and repudiate them with facts and truths:

  • Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies: Issue by Issue Responses to the Most Common Claims of the Left from A to Z by Gregg Jackson
    THE CONSERVATIVE S POLITICAL BIBLE. Let s say you re listening to a loony liberal, debating some dopey Democrat, or arguing with a gaggle of goofy lefties. Wouldn t it be great to have the facts to combat all those liberals lies? Well, here it is: finally, the book that sets the record straight! Radio host and author Gregg Jackson has written THE authoritative answer book for conservatives concerning our nations key concerns: Abortions, terrorism, the Patriot Act, separation of church and state, immigration, the environment, homosexual marriage, taxes, deficits, school vouchers, gun control, health care, social security, education, media bias, and President Bush s real record of achievements. What makes Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies so important is that it gives conservatives, right-leaning independents, and even disaffected Democrats the truth they need to counter common liberal claims. Issue by issue, the book offers clear and concise conservative responses and comebacks. Here is a brilliant, A-to-Z reference book that gives readers clear-cut answers on today s most pressing political and social issues. Conservative Comeback to Liberal Lies should be in the hands of every red-blooded conservative in America!
  • Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism by Lawrence W. Reed
    “There's little truly "progressive" about Progressivism. True progress happens when humans are free, yet the Progressive agenda substantially diminishes freedom while promising the unachievable. Excuse Me, Professor provides a handy reference for anyone actively engaged in advancing liberty, with essential essays debunking more than 50 Progressive clichés.

    Does the free market truly ignore the poor? Are humans really destroying the Earth? Is the government truly the first best source to relieve distress?

    Compiled and edited by Lawrence W. Reed in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic Education and Young America's Foundation, this anthology is an indispensable addition to every freedom lover's arsenal of intellectual ammunition.”
  • Double Standards: The Selective Outrage of the Left by Larry Elder
    “Larry Elder calls them like he sees them. And in this collection of some of his best columns, he wields his pen against anyone who doesn’t.Welfare, the Iran nuclear deal, Ferguson, the Republican primaries and the ascendancy of Donald Trump: Elder takes on a breadth of controversial issues. His incisive wit cuts right to the heart of hypocrisy in public discourse, particularly that of the left -- which taps into its “moral” outrage when it’s politically expedient and becomes curiously docile when it’s not.“The truth will not set you free if delivered without hope,” he writes in one column, quoting his late mother. Though he’s not hopeful about certain politicians, Elder is fundamentally optimistic about the American people: He believes in their power to overcome almost any circumstance -- if only government would stop telling them they can’t.”
  • 09/01/23 American Progressivism

    American Progressivism started in the late 19th century and flowered at the beginning of the 20th century. The Presidential Administration of Woodrow Wilson was when it began to be incorporated into American governance. After a brief pause in the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression in the United States brought forth even greater Progressivism under the Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). It was under the FDR Administration that Progressivism became entrenched in the American government. To this day, we have Progressivism baked into American governance.

    Yet, the administrations of President Wilson and Roosevelt had a dismal record on Civil Rights. Using a reinterpretation or ignoring of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, they attempted to indoctrinate Americans into a Progressive ideology of governance and societal culture. A history of the efforts during the Wilson Administration is examined in this month’s Book It selection:

    • America Transformed: The Rise and Legacy of American Progressivism by Ronald J. Pestritto
      The America of the modern administrative state is not the America of the original Constitution. This transformation comes not only from the ordinary course of historical change and development, but also from a radical, new philosophy of government that was imported into the American political tradition by the Progressives of the late nineteenth century. The new thinking about the principles of government―and open hostility to the American Constitution―led to a host of concrete changes in American political institutions. Our government today reflects these original Progressive innovations, even if they are often unrecognized as such because they have become ingrained in American political culture. This book shows the nature of these changes, both in principles and in the nuts and bolts of governing. It also shows how progressivism was often at the root of critical developments subsequent to the Progressive Era in more recent American political history ― how it was different than the New Deal, the liberalism of the 1960s, and today’s liberalism, but also how these subsequent developments could not have transpired without the ground laid by the original Progressives.

    • Over Here: The First World War and American Society 25th anniversary Edition by David M. Kennedy
      The Great War of 1914-1918 confronted the United States with one of the most wrenching crises in the nation's history. It also left a residue of disruption and disillusion that spawned an even more ruinous conflict scarcely a generation later. Over Here is the single-most comprehensive discussion of the impact of World War I on American society. This 25th anniversary edition includes a new afterword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author David M. Kennedy, that explains his reasons for writing the original edition as well as his opinions on the legacy of Wilsonian idealism, most recently reflected in President George W. Bush's national security strategy. More than a chronicle of the war years, Over Here uses the record of America's experience in the Great War as a prism through which to view early twentieth century American society. he ways in which America mobilized for the war, chose to fight it, and then went about the business of enshrining it in memory all indicate important aspects of enduring American character. An American history classic, Over Here reflects on a society's struggle with the on of pains of war, and offers trenchant insights into the birth of modern America.”

08/01/23 The Mythologies of Climate Change

Much of Climate Change alarmism is based on facts and truth that are that just aren’t so, or as Samuel Clemens stated:

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it's that they know so many things that just aren't so.”
 - Mark Twain

This is because the science and economics of Climate Change are disputable, and the “facts” are often taken out of context and buried within disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation Thus, Climate Change myths have arisen that the public believes are truths. This month’s Book It are two books that examine these myths. The first book examines the myths of the science of Climate Change, while the second book examines the myths of the economics of Climate Change.

The introduction to both books is a must-read for those interested in the truths of Climate Change, while the conclusion of False Alarm is a warning of the repercussions of trying to “fix” Climate Change based on the myths. Myths and Science are diametric, and to believe in myths will doom any policies based upon the myths and result in much wasteful expenditures of time and monies, as well as bringing untold misery upon the world and its people.

  • Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything by Patrick J. Michaels
    When it comes to global warming, most people think there are two camps: “alarmist” or “denier” being their respective pejoratives. Either you acknowledge the existence of manmade climate change and consider it a dire global threat, or you deny it exists at all. But there's a third group: the “lukewarmers.” In Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, Cato scholars Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger explain the real science and spin behind the headlines and come to a provocative conclusion: global warming is not hot―it's lukewarm. While that may not sound massive, it does, as the book's subtitle notes, change everything. Climate change is real, it is partially man-made, but it is clearer than ever that its impact has been exaggerated―with many of the headline-grabbing predictions now being rendered implausible or impossible.

    This new paperback edition of the book is a revised and expanded edition of last year's ebook-only edition of Lukewarming. This new edition includes updates in science and policy following the accords reached at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. It is an equally perfect book for those looking for an introduction to the climate debate, or veterans seeking the freshest science.

  • False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet by Bjorn Lomborg
    Hurricanes batter our coasts. Wildfires rage across the American West. Glaciers collapse in the Artic. Politicians, activists, and the media espouse a common message: climate change is destroying the planet, and we must take drastic action immediately to stop it. Children panic about their future, and adults wonder if it is even ethical to bring new life into the world.

    Enough, argues bestselling author Bjorn Lomborg. Climate change is real, but it's not the apocalyptic threat that we've been told it is. Projections of Earth's imminent demise are based on bad science and even worse economics. In panic, world leaders have committed to wildly expensive but largely ineffective policies that hamper growth and crowd out more pressing investments in human capital, from immunization to education.

    False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong -- and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all.

07/01/23 Reasoning and Fallaciousness

Logical Fallacies, Cognitive Biases and improper Reasoning have been a staple of human thinking since intelligence evolved. This month’s Book It is three books that explain this thinking in a manner that is understandable to the general public.

  • Rules of Reason: Making and Evaluating Claims by Bo Bennett PhD
    Claims are constantly being made, many of which are confusing, ambiguous, too general to be of value, exaggerated, unfalsifiable, and suggest a dichotomy when no such dichotomy exists. Good critical thinking requires a thorough understanding of the claim before attempting to determine its veracity. Good communication requires the ability to make clear, precise, explicit claims, or "strong" claims. The rules of reason in this book provide the framework for obtaining this understanding and ability. This book is about the eleven rules of reason for making and evaluating claims. Each covered in detail in the book. These are: 1) Acknowledge the Limits of Your Knowledge Regarding the Claim.2) Explore Your Biases Related to the Claim.3) Isolate the Actual Claim.4) Clearly and Precisely Define Each Relevant Term.5) Use Terms That Reflect the Scope of the Claim Accurately.6) Operationalize Terms When Possible.7) Make the Claim Falsifiable When Possible.8) Express an Accurate and Meaningful Level of Confidence.9) Convert Causes to Contributing Factors When Appropriate.10) Make Strong Analogies and Call Out Weak Ones.11) Filter All Relevant Assumptions Through These Same Rules.By the time you have finished this short book, no matter how good you were before at evaluating claims, you will be even better at it.

  • Logically Fallacious: The Ultimate Collection of Over 300 Logical Fallacies (Academic Edition) by Bo Bennett PhD
    This book is a crash course in effective reasoning, meant to catapult you into a world where you start to see things how they really are, not how you think they are. The focus of this book is on logical fallacies, which loosely defined, are simply errors in reasoning. With the reading of each page, you can make significant improvements in the way you reason and make decisions.Logically Fallacious is one of the most comprehensive collections of logical fallacies with all original examples and easy to understand descriptions, perfect for educators, debaters, or anyone who wants to improve his or her reasoning skills."Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime." - Bo Bennett. This 2021 Edition includes dozens of more logical fallacies with many updated examples.

  • Bias Beware: How your mind plays tricks on you by Steve Cantwell
    How can a little white lie affect your tastes? Why should judges snack regularly and avoid dice? How does the thought of money affect where you sit? Bias Beware is an introduction to cognitive biases—the ways in which we are all unwittingly influenced when we think we are making rational decisions and fair judgments. We cannot focus on every little thing we perceive, so our brains use shortcuts—heuristics—to help us along. These shortcuts enable us to function but, as with all rules of thumb, they are not always accurate. In fact, they can lead us into some astonishingly irrational conclusions. This entertaining and accessible book will teach you the psychology behind how your mind plays tricks on you, with anecdotes, research and fascinating explanations.   If you want to understand your own mind better, avoid costly mistakes in business, or simply amaze your friends, then this book is for you.

06/01/23 How the Scots Invented the Modern World

As I am one quarter Scottish descent, and proud of my heritage, I thought I would explain the source of my pride. The best source materials are two books, “How the Scots Invented the Modern World” and “The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment”. How the Scots is a very readable book for the public, while The Cambridge Companion is a more academic but still readable book for an interested public. All Scotsmen and those of Scottish heritage will learn much about the intellectual contributions of the Scots, and all people will be amazed by how much the Scottish people have contributed to our modern world.

  • How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It by Arthur Herman
    An exciting account of the origins of the modern world

    Who formed the first literate society? Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism? The Scots. As historian and author Arthur Herman reveals, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland made crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics—contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since.

    Herman has charted a fascinating journey across the centuries of Scottish history. Here is the untold story of how John Knox and the Church of Scotland laid the foundation for our modern idea of democracy; how the Scottish Enlightenment helped to inspire both the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution; and how thousands of Scottish immigrants left their homes to create the American frontier, the Australian outback, and the British Empire in India and Hong Kong.

    How the Scots Invented the Modern World reveals how Scottish genius for creating the basic ideas and institutions of modern life stamped the lives of a series of remarkable historical figures, from James Watt and Adam Smith to Andrew Carnegie and Arthur Conan Doyle, and how Scottish heroes continue to inspire our contemporary culture, from William “Braveheart” Wallace to James Bond.

    And no one who takes this incredible historical trek will ever view the Scots—or the modern West—in the same way again.


  • The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment by Alexander Broadie (Editor), Craig Smith (Editor)
    The second edition of this Companion presents a philosophical perspective on an eighteenth-century phenomenon that has had a profound influence on Western culture. A distinguished team of contributors examines the writings of David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson and other Scottish thinkers. Their subjects range across philosophy, natural theology, economics, anthropology, natural science, and law and the arts, and in addition, they relate the Scottish Enlightenment to its historical context and assess its impact and legacy. The result is a comprehensive and accessible volume that illuminates the richness, the intellectual variety and the underlying unity of this important movement. This volume contains five entirely new chapters on morality, the human mind, aesthetics, sentimentalism and political economy, and eleven other chapters have been significantly revised and updated. The book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in philosophy, theology, literature and the history of ideas.

05/01/23 On Liberty and Freedom

Five influential books on Liberty and Freedom that every American should be familiar with highlights this month’s Book It selections. Without an understanding of these books’ concepts, it is not possible to understand the true meaning of Liberty and Freedom. Each book, except the last, is a slim volume and are an easy read. These books are:

  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine
    “Among the most influential authors and reformers of his age, Thomas Paine (1737–1809) was born in England but went on to play an important role in both the American and French Revolutions. In 1774, he emigrated to America where, for a time, he helped to edit the Pennsylvania Magazine. On January 10, 1776, he published his pamphlet Common Sense, a persuasive argument for the colonies' political and economic separation from Britain. Common Sense cites the evils of monarchy, accuses the British government of inflicting economic and social injustices upon the colonies, and points to the absurdity of an island attempting to rule a continent. Credited by George Washington as having changed the minds of many of his countrymen, the document sold over 500,000 copies within a few months. Today, Common Sense remains a landmark document in the struggle for freedom, distinguished not only by Paine's ideas but also by its clear and passionate presentation. Designed to ignite public opinion against autocratic rule, the pamphlet offered a careful balance between imagination and judgment, and appropriate language and expression to fit the subject. It immediately found a receptive audience, heartened Washington's despondent army, and foreshadowed much of the phrasing and substance of the Declaration of Independence. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

  • On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
    “Discussed and debated from time immemorial, the concept of personal liberty went without codification until the 1859 publication of On Liberty. John Stuart Mill's complete and resolute dedication to the cause of freedom inspired this treatise, an enduring work through which the concept remains well known and studied.

    The British economist, philosopher, and ethical theorist's argument does not focus on "the so-called Liberty of the Will…but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual." Mill asks and answers provocative questions relating to the boundaries of social authority and individual sovereignty. In powerful and persuasive prose, he declares that there is "one very simple principle" regarding the use of coercion in society — one may only coerce others either to defend oneself or to defend others from harm.

    The new edition offers students of political science and philosophy, in an inexpensive volume, one of the most influential studies on the nature of individual liberty and its role in a democratic society.”

  • Civil Disobedience and Other Essays by Henry David Thoreau
    “Philosopher, naturalist, poet and rugged individualist, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) has inspired generations of readers to think for themselves, to follow the dictates of their own conscience and to make an art of their lives. This representative sampling of his thought includes five of his most frequently cited and read essays: "Civil Disobedience," his most powerful and influential political essay, exalts the law of conscience over civil law. "Life without Principle" distills the essence of Thoreau's philosophy of self-reliance and individualism. "Slavery in Massachusetts" is a searing attack on government condonation of slavery. "A Plea for Captain John Brown" is an eloquent defense of the radical abolitionist, while "Walking" celebrates the joys of that activity and pleads for conservation of the earth's wild places. The latter essay is recognized as one of the pioneer documents in the conservation and national park movement in America.”

  • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
    “As a young Florentine envoy to the courts of France and the Italian principalities, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) was able to observe firsthand the lives of people strongly united under one powerful ruler. His fascination with that political rarity and his intense desire to see the Medici family assume a similar role in Italy provided the foundation for his "primer for princes." In this classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power, Machiavelli used a rational approach to advise prospective rulers, developing logical arguments and alternatives for a number of potential problems, among them governing hereditary monarchies, dealing with colonies and the treatment of conquered peoples. Refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality, The Prince sets down a frighteningly pragmatic formula for political fortune. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule that continues to be much read and studied by students, scholars and general readers as well.”

  • Discourses on Livy by Niccolò Machiavelli
    “A new edition of Niccolò Machiavelli's classic political philosophy treatise Discourses on Livy (Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio), considered by scholars to be more representative of Machiavelli's own political and philosophical worldview than his more famous treatise The Prince. Written in 1517 but not published until a few years after Machiavelli's death, the Discourses consists of 142 chapters analyzing the first ten books of Livy's Ab urbe condita, which covers the history of ancient Rome up through the end of the third Samnite War in 293 BC. By analyzing the historical events as recounted in Livy, Machiavelli engages with the characteristics of Roman republican governance, the challenges of political leadership within a republican society, and the impact of "great" men on Rome's growth and success during the period. The Discourses essential serves as a series of lessons on how a republican should be formed and structured, actively advocating for the benefits of a republican as a form of government, and it consequently is of considerable interest to political philosophers and to students of Machiavelli himself, providing further insight into perhaps his real thinking, beyond what is revealed in The Prince.”

The book “Common Sense” does not deal directly on an individual’s Liberty and Freedom, but it does deal with the right of a people to a revolution to assure the Liberties and Freedoms of the people, most especially the right of a people to overthrow a monarch or tyrant.

The book, “On Liberty” is concerned with what are Freedoms and Liberties of an individual, while the book, “Civil Disobedience and Other Essays”, examines the right of an individual to dissent and disobey what they believe are unjust laws. Along the lines of dissent and disobedience every American should also read Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’.

“The Prince” is a book that is not about Liberty and Freedom, but how a powerful person can obtain and retain power to the detriment of Liberty and Freedom. Thus, it serves as a guide for Liberty and Freedom lovers to become mindful to the dangers of these powerful people and how they operate. Anyone who exhibits the traits of The Prince is therefore to be suspect as to be wary of any actions that they may undertake.

“Discourses on Livy” is as essential to an understanding of Machiavelli as his famous treatise, The Prince. Equally controversial, it reveals his fundamental preference for a republican state. Discourses on Livy are comprised of three books. In the first book Machiavelli discusses the internal structure of a republic. In the second book he discusses matters of warfare and in the third his attention is turned to matters of individual leadership. An important work of political history and philosophy, Discourses on Livy is a must read for any student of political science.

04/01/23 What Part of the Second Amendment Don’t You Understand?

In the Forward to my Book It selection this month the reviewer states:

“You see, the law itself is not capable of stopping evil from happening. It is only there to punish the perpetrator after the crime has gone down—which means that the victims are already dead, or raped, or had their life and property destroyed, et cetera, and it is too late to save them.

Which is why the second amendment is the only thing that makes Americans capable of  preventing pure evil from victimizing them. A law will not and cannot do it.

There are laws against murder. Murders still happen. Same with rape, armed robbery, breaking and entering, car theft, and on and on. The only thing a law will do is punish a criminal after an innocent has been victimized—and in Democrat run cities with no-cash bail and corrupt prosecutors, the law won’t even do that.”
 - Nick Searcy

This, along with resistance to an oppressive government, is the essence of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Our Founding Fathers fully understood this, as they had lived under the constant threats of violence and of an oppressive government.

Today in American we have forgotten the lessons our Founding Fathers knew well from their experience. We often ignore or disregard their knowledge and wisdom, as we think that this could not happen in today’s American society. Our recent crime wave have demonstrated that the threat of constant violence is still with us, and my collected Chirps on "The Weaponization of Government" have shown that our American government is sliding into oppression. It is therefore important that we fully understand the meaning and scope of the 2nd Amendment. The following book provides this understanding, and it should be read by all Americans that wish to fully know and defend the 2nd Amendment. This book should also be read by those that support gun control, as it will reveal how wrong they are about gun control.

  • In Defense of the Second Amendment by Larry Correia
    What Part of the Second Amendment Don’t You Understand?
    That’s the question posed by award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, and professional firearms instructor, Larry Correia.

Bringing with him the practical experience that comes from having owned a high-end gun store—catering largely to law enforcement—and as a competitive shooter and self-defense trainer, Correia blasts apart the emotion-laden, logic-free rhetoric of the gun control fanatics who turn every “mass shooting” into a crazed call for violating your rights, abusing the Constitution—and doing absolutely nothing to really fight crime.

In his essential new book, In Defense of the Second Amendment, Correia reveals:

  • Why “gun-free” zones are more dangerous for law-abiding citizens
  • How the Second Amendment does indeed include your right to own an AR-15—and why that’s not an “outdated” concept
  • Why “red flag” laws don’t work, can be easily abused, and ignore a much more commonsensical approach to keeping guns out of the wrong hands
  • The insanity of “criminal justice reform” that frees dangerous criminals and “gun reform” that penalizes your right to self-defense
  • How we can return to a society that has a safe and healthy relationship with guns—as we had for most of our history
  • Correia’s promise: “Believe me, I’ve heard every argument relating to gun control possible. I can show you how to defend your rights.”

Urgent, informed, with vitally important information for whoever who owns a gun—or is thinking about owning a gun—or who cares about the preservation of our constitutional rights, In Defense of the Second Amendment is a landmark book of enduring importance.”

Larry Correia is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels. He’s best known for his Monster Hunter International urban fantasy series, the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior epic fantasy series, the Grimnoir Chronicles alternate history trilogy, the Dead Six military thrillers, and the sci-fi Gun Runner. He’s also written over sixty pieces of shorter fiction, many of which are included in his Target Rich Environment collections, and he has edited three anthologies. He lives in Yard Moose Mountain, Utah with his wife, children, and fearsome Krasnovian Waffle Hound. You can follow him at monsterhunternation.com.

03/01/23 In Defense of Free Speech

“Free speech is not just another value. It’s the foundation of Western civilization.”
 - Jordan Peterson

"Some people's idea of Free Speech is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage."
  - Winston Churchill

The above quotes are essential truths about free speech. Those of you who read my Chirps and Articles know that I am an ardent defender of free speech. Free Speech of which there is no compromise, no excuses, and no exceptions to Free Speech, for to restrict Free Speech is to have no Free Speech (the exceptions are few, narrow, and far between that deal with the directed physical harm to persons or the destruction of personal property).

This month’s Book It selection illuminates the history, facts, and truths about free speech and should be read by all to understand the importance of free speech. As P.J. O’Rourke has stated about this month’s Book It selection, “The best history of free speech ever written and the best defense of free speech ever made.”:

  • Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media by Jacob Mchangama
    “Hailed as the “first freedom,” free speech is the bedrock of democracy. But it is a challenging principle, subject to erosion in times of upheaval. Today, in democracies and authoritarian states around the world, it is on the retreat.

    In Free Speech, Jacob Mchangama traces the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of this idea. Through captivating stories of free speech’s many defenders—from the ancient Athenian orator Demosthenes and the ninth-century freethinker al-Rāzī, to the anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells and modern-day digital activists—Mchangama reveals how the free exchange of ideas underlies all intellectual achievement and has enabled the advancement of both freedom and equality worldwide. Yet the desire to restrict speech, too, is a constant, and he explores how even its champions can be led down this path when the rise of new and contrarian voices challenge power and privilege of all stripes.

    Meticulously researched and deeply humane, Free Speech demonstrates how much we have gained from this principle—and how much we stand to lose without it.”

Let us hope that this understanding of free speech becomes more widespread in America and that "The Decline of Free Speech in America" ends and we recommit ourselves to free speech in America and the rest of the world.

02/01/23 A Land of Hope

History books can often be dry and drab, loaded with dates and facts that contribute little to the understanding of the meaning of history, and difficult to read and follow because of these characteristics. This month’s Book It recommendation is a history book that is anything but these characteristics. Written as a narrative rather than a treatise, it is an eminently readable and understandable meaning of history book about America. It tells the story of America, of both the positives and negatives in American history, in a manner that provides the meaning of American history. It is unlike many history books that I have recommended in my Book Its, and is well worth the read as an introduction to American history:

  • Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story by Wilfred M. McClay
    “For too long we’ve lacked a compact, inexpensive, authoritative, and compulsively readable book that offers American readers a clear, informative, and inspiring narrative account of their country. Such a fresh retelling of the American story is especially needed today, to shape and deepen young Americans’ sense of the land they inhabit, help them to understand its roots and share in its memories, all the while equipping them for the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship in American society

    The existing texts simply fail to tell that story with energy and conviction. Too often they reflect a fragmented outlook that fails to convey to American readers the grand trajectory of their own history.

    This state of affairs cannot continue for long without producing serious consequences. A great nation needs and deserves a great and coherent narrative, as an expression of its own self-understanding and its aspirations; and it needs to be able to convey that narrative to its young effectively. Of course, it goes without saying that such a narrative cannot be a fairy tale of the past. It will not be convincing if it is not truthful. But as Land of Hope brilliantly shows, there is no contradiction between a truthful account of the American past and an inspiring one. Readers of Land of Hope will find both in its pages.”

This is an excellent book to introduce all Americans, especially young Americans, to the meaning of America. It also piques an interest in American history that can lead to further, more in depth, books on American history that I have previously recommended in my Book It selections. Some of these American histories Book It recommendations, written in the same vein but with more in-depth information are:

01/01/23 The American Revolution

Gordon S. Wood is one of the preeminent historical scholars on the founding of America. The two books he has written on the American Revolution for the general reader are excellent introductions to this period of American history.

  • The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Gordon S. Wood
    “A magnificent account of the revolution in arms and consciousness that gave birth to the American republic.

    When Abraham Lincoln sought to define the significance of the United States, he naturally looked back to the American Revolution. He knew that the Revolution not only had legally created the United States, but also had produced all of the great hopes and values of the American people. Our noblest ideals and aspirations-our commitments to freedom, constitutionalism, the well-being of ordinary people, and equality-came out of the Revolutionary era. Lincoln saw as well that the Revolution had convinced Americans that they were a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty. The Revolution, in short, gave birth to whatever sense of nationhood and national purpose Americans have had.

    No doubt the story is a dramatic one: Thirteen insignificant colonies three thousand miles from the centers of Western civilization fought off British rule to become, in fewer than three decades, a huge, sprawling, rambunctious republic of nearly four million citizens. But the history of the American Revolution, like the history of the nation as a whole, ought not to be viewed simply as a story of right and wrong from which moral lessons are to be drawn. It is a complicated and at times ironic story that needs to be explained and understood, not blindly celebrated or condemned. How did this great revolution come about? What was its character? What were its consequences? These are the questions this short history seeks to answer. That it succeeds in such a profound and enthralling way is a tribute to Gordon Wood’s mastery of his subject, and of the historian’s craft.”

  • The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
    “In a grand and immemsely readable synthesis of historical, political, cultural, and economic analysis, a prize-winning historian describes the events that made the American Revolution. Gordon S. Wood depicts a revolution that was about much more than a break from England, rather it transformed an almost feudal society into a democratic one, whose emerging realities sometimes baffled and disappointed its founding fathers.”

Three other books by Gordon S. Wood on the American Revolution are more scholarly and penetrating, and while I do not recommend for general reading, I would recommend them for the reader who wishes to delve more deeply into the meaning of the American Revolution:

  • The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 by Gordon S. Wood
    “One of the half dozen most important books ever written about the American Revolution.--New York Times Book Review

    "During the nearly two decades since its publication, this book has set the pace, furnished benchmarks, and afforded targets for many subsequent studies. If ever a work of history merited the appellation 'modern classic,' this is surely one.--William and Mary Quarterly

    "[A] brilliant and sweeping interpretation of political culture in the Revolutionary generation.--New England Quarterly

    "This is an admirable, thoughtful, and penetrating study of one of the most important chapters in American history.--Wesley Frank Craven”

  • Power and Liberty: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
    “The half century extending from the imperial crisis between Britain and its colonies in the 1760s to the early decades of the new republic of the United States was the greatest and most creative era of constitutionalism in American history, and perhaps in the world. During these decades, Americans explored and debated all aspects of politics and constitutionalism--the nature of power, liberty, representation, rights, the division of authority between different spheres of government, sovereignty, judicial authority, and written constitutions. The results of these issues produced institutions that have lasted for over two centuries.

    In this new book, eminent historian Gordon S. Wood distills a lifetime of work on constitutional innovations during the Revolutionary era. In concise form, he illuminates critical events in the nation's founding, ranging from the imperial debate that led to the Declaration of Independence to the revolutionary state constitution making in 1776 and the creation of the Federal Constitution in 1787. Among other topics, he discusses slavery and constitutionalism, the emergence of the judiciary as one of the major tripartite institutions of government, the demarcation between public and private, and the formation of states' rights.

    Here is an immensely readable synthesis of the key era in the making of the history of the United States, presenting timely insights on the Constitution and the nation's foundational legal and political documents.”

  • The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States by Gordon S. Wood
    “For Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood, the American Revolution is the most important event in our history, bar none. Since American identity is so fluid, we have had to continually return to our nation’s founding to understand who we are. In a series of illuminating essays, he explores the ideological origins of the Revolution—from Ancient Rome to the European Enlightenment—and the founders’ attempts to forge a democracy. He reflects on the origins of American exceptionalism, the radicalism and failed hopes of the founding generation, and the “terrifying gap” between us and the men who created the democratic state we take for granted. This is a profoundly revealing look at the event that forged the United States and its enduring power to define us.”

12/01/22 Our Modern Technological World

Vaclav Smil (born 9 December 1943) is a Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst. He is the Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His interdisciplinary research interests encompass a broad area of energy, environmental, food, population, economic, historical, and public policy studies. He has also applied these approaches to the energy, food, and environmental affairs of China.

He has recently written threebooks that are very illuminating and on similar topics that are interrelated to each other. The first book is a wake-up call to the discovery of the foundations of our modern technological world and the forces and materials that it depends upon. This book is an essential analysis of the modern science and technology that makes our twenty-first-century lives possible—a scientist's investigation into what science really does and does not accomplish.

  • How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We're Going by Vaclav Smil
    “We have never had so much information at our fingertips and yet most of us don’t know how the world really works. This book explains seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity. From energy and food production, through our material world and its globalization, to risks, our environment and its future, How the World Really Works offers a much-needed reality check—because before we can tackle problems effectively, we must understand the facts.

    In this ambitious and thought-provoking book we see, for example, that globalization isn’t inevitable—the foolishness of allowing 70 per cent of the world’s rubber gloves to be made in just one factory became glaringly obvious in 2020—and that our societies have been steadily increasing their dependence on fossil fuels, such that any promises of decarbonization by 2050 are a fairy tale. For example, each greenhouse-grown supermarket-bought tomato has the equivalent of five tablespoons of diesel embedded in its production, and we have no way of producing steel, cement or plastics at required scales without huge carbon emissions.

    Ultimately, Smil answers the most profound question of our age: are we irrevocably doomed or is a brighter utopia ahead? Compelling, data-rich and revisionist, this wonderfully broad, interdisciplinary guide finds faults with both extremes. Looking at the world through this quantitative lens reveals hidden truths that change the way we see our past, present and uncertain future.”

The next book I would recommend is about understanding the numbers of our modern technological world. It can be said that numbers don’t lie—it is the interpretations of the numbers where we encounter the lies. This book is an essential guide to understanding how numbers reveal the true state of our world--exploring a wide range of topics, including energy, the environment, technology, transportation, and food production.

  • Numbers Don't Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World by Vaclav Smil
    “Vaclav Smil's mission is to make facts matter. An environmental scientist, policy analyst, and a hugely prolific author, he is Bill Gates' go-to guy for making sense of our world. In Numbers Don't Lie, Smil answers questions such as: What's worse for the environment--your car or your phone? How much do the world's cows weigh (and what does it matter)? And what makes people happy?

    From data about our societies and populations, through measures of the fuels and foods that energize them, to the impact of transportation and inventions of our modern world--and how all of this affects the planet itself--in Numbers Don't Lie, Vaclav Smil takes us on a fact-finding adventure, using surprising statistics and illuminating graphs to challenge conventional thinking. Packed with fascinating information and memorable examples, Numbers Don't Lie reveals how the US is leading a rising worldwide trend in chicken consumption, that vaccination yields the best return on investment, and why electric cars aren't as great as we think (yet). Urgent and essential, with a mix of science, history, and wit--all in bite-sized chapters on a broad range of topics--Numbers Don't Lie inspires readers to interrogate what they take to be true.”

The final book that I would recommend examines the history of modern scientific and technological advances that led to our modern world and how this world works.

  • Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact by Vaclav Smil
    “The period between 1867 and 1914 remains the greatest watershed in human history since the emergence of settled agricultural societies: the time when an expansive civilization based on synergy of fuels, science, and technical innovation was born. At its beginnings in the 1870s were dynamite, the telephone, photographic film, and the first light bulbs. Its peak decade - the astonishing 1880s - brought electricity - generating plants, electric motors, steam turbines, the gramophone, cars, aluminum production, air-filled rubber tires, and prestressed concrete. And its post-1900 period saw the first airplanes, tractors, radio signals and plastics, neon lights and assembly line production. This book is a systematic interdisciplinary account of the history of this outpouring of European and American intellect and of its truly epochal consequences. It takes a close look at four fundamental classes of these epoch-making innovations: formation, diffusion, and standardization of electric systems; invention and rapid adoption of internal combustion engines; the unprecedented pace of new chemical syntheses and material substitutions; and the birth of a new information age. These chapters are followed by an evaluation of the lasting impact these advances had on the 20th century, that is, the creation of high-energy societies engaged in mass production aimed at improving standards of living.”

Professor Smil has also written another book, Grand Transitions: How the Modern World Was Made, that examines the four "grand transitions" of civilization--in populations, agriculture, energy, and economics--which have transformed the way we live. This book can be a difficult read for the general populace, as it is scholarly tome that I would not recommend unless you are deeply interested in this topic.

11/01/22 What Science Can Tell Us, and What it Cannot

From renowned physicist and creator of the YouTube channel “Science without the Gobbledygook”, Sabine Hossenfelder has written a new book that takes a no-nonsense approach to life’s biggest questions, and wrestles with what physics really says about the human condition.

Sabine Hossenfelder is the author of another book I have recommended in my “01/01/20 Science Critique” Book It - “Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray”. These two books are a treasure about today’s scientific world and the search for ‘truth’ in science.

  • Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions by Sabine Hossenfelder
    Not only can we not currently explain the origin of the universe, it is questionable we will ever be able to explain it. The notion that there are universes within particles, or that particles are conscious, is ascientific, as is the hypothesis that our universe is a computer simulation. On the other hand, the idea that the universe itself is conscious is difficult to rule out entirely.

    According to Sabine Hossenfelder, it is not a coincidence that quantum entanglement and vacuum energy have become the go-to explanations of alternative healers, or that people believe their deceased grandmother is still alive because of quantum mechanics. Science and religion have the same roots, and they still tackle some of the same questions: Where do we come from? Where do we go to? How much can we know? The area of science that is closest to answering these questions is physics. Over the last century, physicists have learned a lot about which spiritual ideas are still compatible with the laws of nature. Not always, though, have they stayed on the scientific side of the debate.

    In this lively, thought-provoking book, Hossenfelder takes on the biggest questions in physics: Does the past still exist? Do particles think? Was the universe made for us? Has physics ruled out free will? Will we ever have a theory of everything? She lays out how far physicists are on the way to answering these questions, where the current limits are, and what questions might well remain unanswerable forever. Her book offers a no-nonsense yet entertaining take on some of the toughest riddles in existence, and will give the reader a solid grasp on what we know—and what we don’t know.

Another, somewhat older book, from acclaimed science author Jim Baggot, is a pointed critique of modern theoretical physics.

  • Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth by Jim Baggott
    In this stunning new volume, Jim Baggott argues that there is no observational or experimental evidence for many of the ideas of modern theoretical physics: super-symmetric particles,super strings, the multiverse, the holographic principle,or the anthropic cosmological principle. These theories are not only untrue, it is not even science. It is fairy-tale physics:fantastical, bizarre and often outrageous, perhaps even confidence-trickery.This book provides a much-needed antidote. Informed,comprehensive, and balanced, it offers lay readers the latest ideas about the nature of physical reality while clearly distinguishing between fact and fantasy. With its engaging portraits of many central figures of modern physics, including Paul Davies, John Barrow, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking,and Leonard Susskind, it promises to be essential reading forall readers interested in what we know and don’t know about the nature of the universe and reality itself. graphs and charts

Both books should give a thoughtful person reason to pause, and critique, what modern scientific experts claim about modern science. Or to paraphrase one of my own quotes:

"Just because a scientist 'believes' something to be true does not mean that they 'know' something is true, and just because they say something is true doesn't make it true."
  - Mark Dawson

10/01/22 Free Speech in America

Never in America history have Americans been more polarized on the issue of free speech, and never has there been a decline of free speech in America as we have seen today. A longish article by Jonathan Turley, “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States”, examines this decline and the impacts of the decline. While this article is long (132 pages - which is why I have made it a Book It selection) it is well worth the read by all Americans concerned about free speech in America. Here is an excerpt:

“Throughout its history, the United States has struggled with movements that aim to silence others through state or private action. These periods have been pendulous, with acute suppression followed by relative tolerance for free speech. This boom–or-bust pattern for free speech may well continue. However, the United States is arguably living through one of its most serious anti-free speech periods, and there are signs that the current period could result in lasting damage for free speech due to a rising orthodoxy and intolerance on our campuses and in our public debate.

Where fighting for freedom of speech was once a near-universal rallying cry, opposing free speech has now become an article of faith for some in our society. This has led to a rising movement that justifies silencing opposing views, often on the grounds that stopping others from speaking is, in fact, an exercise in free speech. This movement has both public and private components, but it is different from any prior period due to new technological, political, and economic pressures on the exercise of free speech.

The struggle for free speech in the United States is interwoven with our history, from the colonial period to the present day. From the outset, there was a clear concept of free speech, but not a clear commitment to protecting it. Indeed, figures like Thomas Paine and John Peter Zenger raised many issues against the English Crown that are still debated today in conflicts over free speech and the free press. Anti-free speech movements tend to rise from deep fractures in our society in periods of unrest. The sense of great injury felt by many can be translated into a license to silence those who are seen as causing or exacerbating that injury. These periods provide an opportunity not only for government abuses but also for extremist groups to feed on social unrest. In recent years, various extremist groups have emerged on both ends of the ideological spectrum, from the Boogaloo movement on the far right to the Antifa movement on the far left. However, the greatest threat to free speech today is the growing support for censorship and speech codes in the mainstream of political and academic thought.

The rise in speech regulation is often defended on the basis that free speech itself is a danger. This article explores the rationalization that speech controls are justified as a defense or response to the harm posed by opposing views. It is a framing that explicitly or implicitly raises the “harm principle” of John Stuart Mill—with a lethal twist. Many have long relied upon the harm principle in a myriad of areas to define the limits on government controls and action, particularly in defense of free speech. A type of Millian harm principle is now being used to justify both government controls and private action to silence those with opposing views. Indeed, the antifree speech movement on our campuses is often defended as a type of militant Millian movement, a construct that is neither faithful to Mill’s writing nor logical in its application. Yet that same rationale has been used by social media companies as the foundation for the robust censorship programs now enforced across the media in what is often called the “post-truth” environment.

This article looks at the anti-free speech movement and its reliance on the harm rationale. However, it is important to note that arguments for greater speech regulation often reject another aspect of Mill’s writings on free speech: the self-corrective or protective capacity of free speech systems. That view is treated as hopelessly and even dangerously outdated. One commentator wrote, “Many more of the most noble old ideas about free speech simply don’t compute in the age of social media. John Stuart Mill’s notion that a ‘marketplace of ideas’ will elevate the truth is flatly belied by the virality of fake news.”

Such claims are often presented as manifestly true. The fact that “disinformation” or hateful speech exists on social media is treated as evidence that traditional Millian notions of free speech are proven failures. Such a view ignores that neither Mill nor his adherents ever claimed that free speech would chase bad speech from the media platforms or our lives. Disinformation and hateful speech existed in Mill’s life and have always existed as part of human interactions. Free speech does not cure stupidity; it merely exposes it.”

“The harm from loss of free speech was viewed as existential for our democracy. Today, the focus of many writers and academics is on the harm of unregulated free speech. Recently, a leading cable host heralded censorship on the Internet as part of a new “harm reduction model” of both free speech and freedom of the press. Free speech is now treated as presumptively harmful absent governmental and corporate regulation. The harm is often ill-defined and applied inconsistently. The premise remains that unregulated free speech can threaten the democracy as a whole or it can threaten individual students who feel unsafe due to the expression of opposing views. Rather than treating free speech as the essential element for intellectual discourse, it is often portrayed as akin to a type of controlled substance in our public and academic discourse.”

In a similar vein the book, “Case Against the New Censorship: Protecting Free Speech from Big Tech, Progressives, and Universities” by Alan Dershowitz, one of America’s most respected legal scholars, analyzes the current regressive war against freedom of speech being waged by well-meaning but dangerous censors and proposes steps that can be taken to defend, reclaim, and strengthen freedom of speech and other basic liberties that are under attack.

Both the article and the book are worth the read as without Free Speech, as all history has shown, there can be no Liberties and Freedoms. Indeed, as all history has shown, without Free Speech you can only have despotism, or worse, in a society.

09/01/22 Modern Totalitarianism

In my Book It review of “06/01/21 The Liberal Mind” I noted that the book “The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness” by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr. M.D. is about the psychological basis of the Progressives/Leftists mindset and human nature and human freedom. A new book deconstructs the societal conditions that allow this liberal mindset to take hold in the political arena and which gives rise to totalitarianism.

  • The Psychology of Totalitarianism by Mattias Desmet

    “The world is in the grips of mass formation―a dangerous, collective type of hypnosis―as we bear witness to loneliness, free-floating anxiety, and fear giving way to censorship, loss of privacy, and surrendered freedoms. It is all spurred by a singular, focused crisis narrative that forbids dissident views and relies on destructive groupthink.

    Desmet’s work on mass formation theory was brought to the world’s attention on The Joe Rogan Experience and in major alternative news outlets around the globe. Read this book to get beyond the sound bites!

    Totalitarianism is not a coincidence and does not form in a vacuum. It arises from a collective psychosis that has followed a predictable script throughout history, its formation gaining strength and speed with each generation―from the Jacobins to the Nazis and Stalinists―as technology advances. Governments, mass media, and other mechanized forces use fear, loneliness, and isolation to demoralize populations and exert control, persuading large groups of people to act against their own interests, always with destructive results.

    In The Psychology of Totalitarianism, world-renowned Professor of Clinical Psychology Mattias Desmet deconstructs the societal conditions that allow this collective psychosis to take hold. By looking at our current situation and identifying the phenomenon of “mass formation”―a type of collective hypnosis―he clearly illustrates how close we are to surrendering to totalitarian regimes.

    With detailed analyses, examples, and results from years of research, Desmet lays out the steps that lead toward mass formation, including:

      • An overall sense of loneliness and lack of social connections and bonds
      • A lack of meaning―unsatisfying “bullsh*t jobs” that don’t offer purpose
      • Free-floating anxiety and discontent that arise from loneliness and lack of meaning
      • Manifestation of frustration and aggression from anxiety
      • Emergence of a consistent narrative from government officials, mass media, etc., that exploits and channels frustration and anxiety

In addition to clear psychological analysis―and building on Hannah Arendt’s essential work on totalitarianism, The Origins of Totalitarianism―Desmet offers a sharp critique of the cultural “groupthink” that existed prior to the pandemic and advanced during the COVID crisis. He cautions against the dangers of our current societal landscape, media consumption, and reliance on manipulative technologies and then offers simple solutions―both individual and collective―to prevent the willing sacrifice of our freedoms.

“We can honor the right to freedom of expression and the right to self-determination without feeling threatened by each other,” Desmet writes. “But there is a point where we must stop losing ourselves in the crowd to experience meaning and connection. That is the point where the winter of totalitarianism gives way to a spring of life.”

Mattias Desmet is a world-renowned Belgian Professor of Clinical Psychology and professor in clinical psychology at Ghent University. He has a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychological Sciences as well as a Master of Science degree in statistics. Professor Desmet is the author of two other books on psychology, and over one hundred peer-reviewed academic papers. In 2018 he received the Evidence-Based Psychoanalytic Case Study Prize of the Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, and in 2019 he received the Wim Trijsburg Prize of the Dutch Association of Psychotherapy.

This book is an invaluable resource in understanding the how and why of the underpinnings of the current madness in American society, and the rest of the democratic world, has come about. It is also a warning of where we may end up if this madness is not obviated. Or, as one reviewer has stated:

"Desmet is waking a lot of people up to the dangerous place we are now with a brilliant distillation of how we ended up here."
 ―Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

08/01/22 Rational and Reasonable Climate Change

Only one book this month, but it is a book that I think is the best book on Global Climate Change. In my Book It of “03/01/21 Apocalypse Never”, I recommend a book by Michael Shellenberger that discusses environmentalism and climate change. A companion book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters” by Steven E. Koonin, is a definitive book on ‘the science’ of climate change, rather than ‘The Science’ of climate change. Dr. Koonin is a scientist who has been involved in Climate Change research, a leader in science policy in the United States for several decades, and he served as Undersecretary for Science in the U.S. Department of Energy under President Obama.

Dr. Koonin examines the scientific facts and scientific conclusions based upon the facts (‘the science’) of Climate Change rather than what the proponents of Climate Change (The Media, Politicians, Scientific Institutions, Scientists, Activists and Nongovernmental Organizations, and The Public) wishes us to conclude about Climate Change (‘The Science’). He is neither a climate change denier nor a proponent of calamitous climate change but dispassionately analyzes the observations, experiments, computer modeling, and the scientific reasoning of the science of Climate Change. He does believe that human activity has contributed to climate change, but he points out that the significance of the human contribution is very difficult to quantify. He also points out the scientific, technological, economic, sociological, and political difficulties in addressing Climate Change.

For those of us who wish to understand ‘the science’ of Climate Change rather than accept ‘The Science” of Climate Change, this is the book to gain this understanding.

  • Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters by Steven E. Koonin

    "Unsettled is a remarkable book—probably the best book on climate change for the intelligent layperson—that achieves the feat of conveying complex information clearly and in depth." —Claremont Review of Books

    “[Unsettled] is no polemic. It’s a plea for understanding how scientists extract clarity from complexity.” — Wall Street Journal

    "Surging sea levels are inundating the coasts."

    "Hurricanes and tornadoes are becoming fiercer and more frequent."

    "Climate change will be an economic disaster."

    You've heard all this presented as fact. But according to science, all of these statements are profoundly misleading.

    When it comes to climate change, the media, politicians, and other prominent voices have declared that "the science is settled." In reality, the long game of telephone from research to reports to the popular media is corrupted by misunderstanding and misinformation. Core questions—about the way the climate is responding to our influence, and what the impacts will be—remain largely unanswered. The climate is changing, but the why and how aren't as clear as you've probably been led to believe.

    Now, one of America's most distinguished scientists is clearing away the fog to explain what science really says (and doesn't say) about our changing climate. In Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters, Steven Koonin draws upon his decades of experience—including as a top science advisor to the Obama administration—to provide up-to-date insights and expert perspective free from political agendas.

    Fascinating, clear-headed, and full of surprises, this book gives readers the tools to both understand the climate issue and be savvier consumers of science media in general. Koonin takes readers behind the headlines to the more nuanced science itself, showing us where it comes from and guiding us through the implications of the evidence. He dispels popular myths and unveils little-known truths: despite a dramatic rise in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures actually decreased from 1940 to 1970. What's more, the models we use to predict the future aren't able to accurately describe the climate of the past, suggesting they are deeply flawed.

    Koonin also tackles society's response to a changing climate, using data-driven analysis to explain why many proposed "solutions" would be ineffective, and discussing how alternatives like adaptation and, if necessary, geoengineering will ensure humanity continues to prosper. Unsettled is a reality check buoyed by hope, offering the truth about climate science that you aren't getting elsewhere—what we know, what we don't, and what it all means for our future.

07/01/22 Economic Truths

“The art of economics consists of looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
 - Henry Hazlitt

Progressives/Leftists and Democrat Party Leaders are fond of asserting slogans and clichés that are to be accepted as truths without challenge. Many of these slogans and clichés have perverse economic implications that are also deleterious to society and our Liberties and Freedoms. This month’s Book It selections examine the underlying economics that contradicts these slogans and clichés.

  • Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt

    “Considered among the leading economic thinkers of the “Austrian School,” which includes Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich (F.A.) Hayek, and others, Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993), was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an influential libertarian publication. Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal work, in 1946. Concise and instructive, it is also deceptively prescient and far-reaching in its efforts to dissemble economic fallacies that are so prevalent they have almost become a new orthodoxy.

    Economic commentators across the political spectrum have credited Hazlitt with foreseeing the collapse of the global economy which occurred more than 50 years after the initial publication of Economics in One Lesson. Hazlitt’s focus on non-governmental solutions, strong — and strongly reasoned — anti-deficit position, and general emphasis on free markets, economic liberty of individuals, and the dangers of government intervention make Economics in One Lesson every bit as relevant and valuable today as it has been since publication.”

  • Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell

    “Economic Facts and Fallacies exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues-and does so in a lively manner and without requiring any prior knowledge of economics by the reader. These include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as mistaken ideas about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, as well as economics fallacies about academia, about race, and about Third World countries. One of the themes of Economic Facts and Fallacies is that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power-and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important, as well as sometimes humorous. Written in the easy-to-follow style of the author's Basic Economics, this latest book is able to go into greater depth, with real world examples, on specific issues.”
  • Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism by Lawrence W. Reed et al.

    “There's little truly "progressive" about Progressivism. True progress happens when humans are free, yet the Progressive agenda substantially diminishes freedom while promising the unachievable. Excuse Me, Professor provides a handy reference for anyone actively engaged in advancing liberty, with essential essays debunking more than 50 Progressive clichés.

    Does the free market truly ignore the poor? Are humans really destroying the Earth? Is the government truly the first best source to relieve distress?”

    Compiled and edited by Lawrence W. Reed in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic Education and Young America's Foundation, this anthology is an indispensable addition to every freedom lover's arsenal of intellectual ammunition.”

    The Foundation for Economic Freedom, which Lawrence W. Reed is president emeritus, has also posted the essays in this book which can be read here.
  • 06/01/22 American History

    Most Americans barely know President Theodore Roosevelt and often regard him as a Progressive politician. He, like Thomas Jefferson, can be quoted on all sides of an issue as his words and deeds can be interpreted according to the biases of the person quoting him. The book that I recommend for setting the record straight, Theodore the Great: Conservative Crusader, offers a more balanced assessment of his conservative policies and progressive legacy.

    Most Americans are also unfamiliar with the history of America in the 20th century, and much of what they know is distorted by partisan politics. The book that I would recommend for an objective history of Twentieth-Century America offers a more balanced viewpoint on American history in the 20th century.

    Theodore Roosevelt has often been depicted as a Progressive, but he was actually a Conservative Populist. Another President of the late 20th century, Ronald Reagan, can also be described as a Conservative Populist. Both of them were champions of the common man, and they believed in America and Americans, and America as a force for good in the world. They both championed a strong military and an international presence on the world stage. Domestically, they both believed in a strong economy of Capitalism of a Free Market as opposed to a Laissez-faire market, and reforming the government to be more responsive to the will of the American people. As such, Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt are bookends to Conservative Populism in the 20th century. Both of these Presidents had a profound effect upon America, and both of these presidents need to be better known and understood by Americans. A very good biography of Ronald Reagan, Reagan: The Life by H. W. Brands, is the biography that I would recommend to understand the life and presidency of Ronald Reagan.

    • Theodore the Great: Conservative Crusader by Daniel Ruddy

      “Theodore Roosevelt has a complicated legacy. To some, he was the quintessential American patriot and hero, a valiant soldier and hawkish leader. Others remember him as the Progressive cultural icon, the trust-buster who split from the Republican Party.

      So who was the real Teddy Roosevelt?

      Daniel Ruddy’s new biography cuts through the impenetrable tangle of misconceptions and contradictions that have grown up over the last century and obscured our view of a man who remains one of the most controversial and misunderstood presidents in U.S. history. Weighing Roosevelt's lifetime of actions against his sometimes-contradictory Progressive rhetoric, Ruddy paints a portrait of a man who led by undeniably conservative principles, but who obfuscated his own legacy with populist speeches. By focusing on Roosevelt's actions and his effect on American history, Ruddy clears the cobwebs and presents a real and convincing case for remembering Theodore Roosevelt as a great conservative leader.”

    • Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History by Thomas C. Reeves

      “Twentieth-Century America offers a succinct, comprehensive, and objective examination of recent American history. From Progressivism and the New Deal up to the present, Reeves covers all aspects of American history without burying students in unnecessary detail and trivia. This allows students to grasp the major developments and continuities of American history and to come away with a cohesive picture of the twentieth century. From William McKinley and the Wright Brothers to Michael Jordan and Monica Lewinsky, Reeves lays bare the whole of the twentieth century with an interpretation that strives for an unbiased and accurate presentation of the real story of American history. The author conveys vivid accounts of the changes in the political arena, public policy, popular culture, industry, economy, race, gender, and class that defined the times, and explores the great strides made in technology, living standards, working conditions, and education. He stresses social as well as political and economic history, emphasizing the roles played by all Americans--including immigrants, minorities, women, and working people--and pays special attention to such topics as religion, crime, morality, public health, national prosperity, and the media. Reeves presents both sides of controversial subjects and is careful to point out which interpretations were most strongly supported. The recommended readings at the end of each chapter have been specifically selected to appeal to students and to acquaint them with the most readable and provocative books on each era. For a clear and fascinating look at the often exciting and always important history of the United States, Twentieth-Century America is an indispensable text for all students interested in a lucid historical overview of this country's past one hundred years.”
    • Reagan: The Life by H. W. Brands

      “In his magisterial new biography, H. W. Brands brilliantly establishes Ronald Reagan as one of the two great presidents of the twentieth century, a true peer to Franklin Roosevelt. Reagan conveys with sweep and vigor how the confident force of Reagan’s personality and the unwavering nature of his beliefs enabled him to engineer a conservative revolution in American politics and play a crucial role in ending communism in the Soviet Union. Reagan shut down the age of liberalism, Brands shows, and ushered in the age of Reagan, whose defining principles are still powerfully felt today.

      Reagan follows young Ronald Reagan as his ambition for ever larger stages compelled him to leave behind small-town Illinois to become first a radio announcer and then that quintessential public figure of modern America, a movie star. When his acting career stalled, his reinvention as the voice of The General Electric Theater on television made him an unlikely spokesman for corporate America. Then began Reagan’s improbable political ascension, starting in the 1960s, when he was first elected governor of California, and culminating in his election in 1980 as president of the United States.

      Employing archival sources not available to previous biographers and drawing on dozens of interviews with surviving members of Reagan’s administration, Brands has crafted a richly detailed and fascinating narrative of the presidential years. He offers new insights into Reagan’s remote management style and fractious West Wing staff, his deft handling of public sentiment to transform the tax code, and his deeply misunderstood relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, on which nothing less than the fate of the world turned.

      Reagan is a storytelling triumph, an irresistible portrait of an underestimated politician whose pragmatic leadership and steadfast vision transformed the nation.”

    05/01/22 Dystopia

    Given the political and social events of the last few decades in America, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, I decided to reread the three great dystopian novels of the first half of the 20th century - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Brave New World. These three books are often quoted but rarely read and not fully understood by those that are knowledgeable of these books. The last time I read these novels, I was in my teens, and I thought with all the knowledge and wisdom I have gained in the intervening years that I may have a different perspective on these novels in my seventies. In this, I discovered that, indeed, my perspective of these novels has changed and deepened. A brief synopsis of these books, along with my choice slogan and quote of these novels, is:

    • Animal Farm (1945) by George Orwell

      “FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD.”

      “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

      A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus, the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

    • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell

      “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”

      “War is Peace.”
      “Freedom is Slavery.”
      “Ignorance is Strength.”

      Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, the symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow worker, Julia, but soon discovers the truths of Big Brother.

    • Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley

      “COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY”

      “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”


      A technocratic World State that is committed to the happiness of all by engineering humans from conception through adolescence, then by consumerism and collectivism in a rigid caste system of Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Each caste has its own duties and responsibilities, with limitations on their intelligence, skills, and abilities to fit within their roles in the World State. It is a world dominated by mass entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites. The story follows two main characters, a disgruntled Alpha engineered by the World State and someone accidentally born and raised outside the World State whom they refer to as “The Savage”. Each of them questions the tenets of the World State and the superficial happiness that the World State brings to humankind. At the end of this novel, The Savage decides to take the ultimate act of individualism in that he decides when, where, and how he should die.

    My Article, “Dystopia”, examines these three novels in consideration of these current events in America, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

    04/01/22 American Biography Presidents

    Two Presidents who have had a significant impact on the founding of America and one who changed the course of American politics are this month’s Book It selection.

    • James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney

      “Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intellectual driving force behind the Constitution. His visionary political philosophy—eloquently presented in the Federalist Papers—was a crucial factor behind the Constitution’s ratification, and his political savvy was of major importance in getting the new government underway. As secretary of state under Thomas Jefferson, he managed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. As president, Madison led the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Without precedent to guide him, he would demonstrate that a republic could defend its honor and independence while remaining true to its young constitution.”

    • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger

      “In this compelling biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals the epic story of James Monroe (1758-1831)-the last of America's Founding Fathers-who transformed a small, fragile nation beset by enemies into a powerful empire stretching "from sea to shining sea." Like David McCullough's John Adams and Jon Meacham's American Lion, The Last Founding Father is both a superb read and stellar scholarship-action-filled history in the grand tradition.”

    • AMERICAN LION: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

      “Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson’s election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson’s presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama–the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers– that shaped Jackson’s private world through years of storm and victory.

      One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will– or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House–from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman–have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision.

      Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe–no matter what it took.”

    03/01/22 American Biography Founders

    Three biographies of our Founding Fathers, in which two of them became the 1st and 2nd Presidents of the United States, while the other was instrumental in establishing the economic system that still reverberates today.

    • His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

      “To this landmark biography of our first president, Joseph J. Ellis brings the exacting scholarship, shrewd analysis, and lyric prose that have made him one of the premier historians of the Revolutionary era. Training his lens on a figure who sometimes seems as remote as his effigy on Mount Rushmore, Ellis assesses George Washington as a military and political leader and a man whose “statue-like solidity” concealed volcanic energies and emotions.

      Here is the impetuous young officer whose miraculous survival in combat half-convinced him that he could not be killed. Here is the free-spending landowner whose debts to English merchants instilled him with a prickly resentment of imperial power. We see the general who lost more battles than he won and the reluctant president who tried to float above the partisan feuding of his cabinet. His Excellency is a magnificent work, indispensable to an understanding not only of its subject but also of the nation he brought into being.”

    • John Adams by David McCullough

      “In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history.

      This is history on a grand scale—a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.”

    • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

      “Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

      Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.”

    02/01/22 Rationality and Enlightenment

    In my Article on “Rationality” I mentioned that have not come upon a book that does a good job of explaining rationality to the general public. However, I have recently read the book, ‘Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters’ by Steven Pinker, which I would recommend for anyone to understand Rationality. This book presents the complex topics within Rationality in a manner that is understandable to the general public. However, I would recommend that you read my Rationality article beforehand, as I have a serious critique with one chapter in this book. Therefore, this book and another book by Steven Pinker are this month’s Book It recommendation. The inside dust jacket to this book describes the book as:

    “Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding--and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

    Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational--cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself.  We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book--until now.

    Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.

    Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with Pinker’s customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.“

    In what can be considered a companion book to Rationality he authors a very good book on the benefits of “Rationality” and "Reasoning". However, I would recommend that you read my Myside Bias article beforehand, as I have a serious critique of this book that you should keep in mind when reading this book. The inside dust jacket to this book describes the book as:

    “Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

    Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.

    With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.”

    While I am not recommending that you read this book due to my critiques if you do read this book, while keeping in mind my critiques, there is much valuable information in this book.

    01/01/22 The Dying Citizen and Dismantling America

    According to American legend, the British army band under Lord Cornwallis played the tune “The World Turned Upside Down” when they surrendered after the Siege of Yorktown (1781). Customarily, the British army would have played an American or French tune in tribute to the victors, but General Washington refused them the honours of war and insisted that they play "a British or German march." Although American history textbooks continue to propagate the legend, the story may have been apocryphal as it first appears in the historical record a century after the surrender.

    And, indeed, the old world was turned upside down by the new world. Monarchy, aristocracy, and upper/lower class distinctions of the old world were being replaced by Meritocracy, the Middle Class, the ability to rise above your birth. Liberty and Freedom had replaced Despotism and Servitude. Or, as the Declaration of Independence proclaimed:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    Today, in America, we should all be playing the tune “The World Turned Upside Down”, for the American Ideals and Ideas are being turned upside down. A new book looks at this transformation and its impacts on America:

    “Human history is full of the stories of peasants, subjects, and tribes. Yet the concept of the “citizen” is historically rare—and was among America’s most valued ideals for over two centuries. But without shock treatment, warns historian Victor Davis Hanson, American citizenship as we have known it may soon vanish.

    In The Dying Citizen, Hanson outlines the historical forces that led to this crisis. The evisceration of the middle class over the last fifty years has made many Americans dependent on the federal government. Open borders have undermined the idea of allegiance to a particular place. Identity politics have eradicated our collective civic sense of self. And a top-heavy administrative state has endangered personal liberty, along with formal efforts to weaken the Constitution.

    As in the revolutionary years of 1848, 1917, and 1968, 2020 ripped away our complacency about the future. But in the aftermath, we as Americans can rebuild and recover what we have lost. The choice is ours.”

    Having just read this book, I would have posted a review of this book in this Chirp. However, as there is a review of this book by Michael Cozzi, “The Dying Citizen”, that is so excellent, I thought it would be better to redirect you to his article rather than create a review of my own. As Mr. Cozzi states about this book that it: “is a prescient account of how the American conceptualization of citizenship has been eroded by progressive ideologues and those who wish to undermine the original intent of the Framers. He focuses on the categories of pre-citizens and post-citizens”.

    I would also encourage you to read the Introduction to this book, which is viewable by clicking the ‘Look inside’ hyperlink of the Amazon web page for this book. This introduction is perhaps the finest introduction to a book that I have encountered in my readings, as it succinctly highlights the content of the book.

    Another book, published over ten years ago, also looked at this transformation, and the facts of the underlying issues that are often ignored or glossed over by politicians of all stripes

    “These wide-ranging essays -- on many individual political, economic, cultural, and legal issues that have as a recurring, underlying theme the decline of the values and institutions that have sustained and advanced American society for more than two centuries. This decline has been more than an erosion. It has, in many cases, been a deliberate dismantling of American values and institutions by people convinced that their superior wisdom and virtue must over-ride both the traditions of the country and the will of the people.

    Whether these essays (originally published as syndicated newspaper columns) are individually about financial bailouts, illegal immigrants, gay marriage, national security, or the Duke University rape case, the underlying concern is about what these very different kinds of things say about the general direction of American society.

    This larger and longer-lasting question is whether the particular issues discussed reflect a degeneration or dismantling of the America that we once knew and expected to pass on to our children and grandchildren. There are people determined that this country's values, history, laws, traditions and role in the world are fundamentally wrong and must be changed. Such people will not stop dismantling America unless they get stopped -- and the next election may be the last time to stop them, before they take the country beyond the point of no return.”

    These two books are an excellent explanation of how America has become ‘The World Turned Upside Down’.

    12/01/21 Notable Conservative Thought

    On December 2, 2020, Walter Edward Williams, an American economist, commentator, and academic, passed away. As a black man raised in the ghetto of Philadelphia, PA, he provided keen insights into the political and economic issues confronting the minorities in America. His thoughts and commentaries were instrumental in the formulation of my ideas and political philosophy. The eulogies posted in The National Review do far more justice to him than I could ever hope to provide. I, and many other Americans, will sorely miss his perspectives on America. Four of his books are well worth the read, as the topics he discusses are still apropos in America today:

    • American Contempt for Liberty by Walter E. Williams

      “Throughout history, personal liberty, free markets, and peaceable, voluntary exchanges have been roundly denounced by tyrants and often greeted with suspicion by the general public. Unfortunately, Americans have increasingly accepted the tyrannical ideas of reduced private property rights and reduced rights to profits, and have become enamored with restrictions on personal liberty and control by government. In this latest collection of essays selected from his syndicated newspaper columns, Walter E. Williams takes on a range of controversial issues surrounding race, education, the environment, the Constitution, health care, foreign policy, and more. Skewering the self-righteous and self-important forces throughout society, he makes the case for what he calls the "the moral superiority of personal liberty and its main ingredient—limited government." With his usual straightforward insights and honesty, Williams reveals the loss of liberty in nearly every important aspect of our lives, the massive decline in our values, and the moral tragedy that has befallen Americans today: our belief that it is acceptable for the government to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another.”

    • Do the Right Thing: The People's Economist Speaks by Walter E. Williams

      “Walter E. Williams (1936–2020) was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, a nationally syndicated columnist, and the author of several books. This thought-provoking book contains nearly one hundred of Williams's most popular essays on race and sex, government, education, environment and health, law and society, international politics, and other controversial topics.”

    • Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism: Controversial Essays by Walter E. Williams

      “In this selected collection of his syndicated newspaper columns, Walter Williams offers his sometimes controversial views on education, health, the environment, government, law and society, race, and a range of other topics. Although many of these essays focus on the growth of government and our loss of liberty, many others demonstrate how the tools of free market economics can be used to improve our lives in ways ordinary people can understand.”

    • More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well by Walter E. Williams

      “In this collection of thoughtful, hard-hitting essays, Walter E. Williams once again takes on the left wing's most sacred cows with provocative insights, brutal candor, and an uncompromising reverence for personal liberty and the principles laid out in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.”

    11/01/21 Contrarian Thought in America

    Two of the most notable conservatives of the late 20th century and early 21st century, Thomas Sowell and Charles Krauthammer, started their adult life on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Thomas Sowell was an avowed Marxist, while Charles Krauthammer worked and wrote for liberal politicians and organizations. Both had a change of mind for what Thomas Sowell attributed ‘facts’ and to which Charles Krauthammer attributed ‘evidence’.

    Any book written by Thomas Sowell is well worth the read, but for a grasp of his intellectual biography, I would recommend the book:

    • Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell by Jason L Riley

      “Thomas Sowell is one of the great social theorists of our age. In a career spanning more than a half century, he has written over thirty books, covering topics from economic history and social inequality to political theory, race, and culture. His bold and unsentimental assaults on liberal orthodoxy have endeared him to many readers but have also enraged fellow intellectuals, the civil-rights establishment, and much of the mainstream media. The result has been a lack of acknowledgment of his scholarship among critics who prioritize political correctness.

      In the first-ever biography of Sowell, Jason L. Riley gives this iconic thinker his due and responds to the detractors. Maverick showcases Sowell's most significant writings and traces the life events that shaped his ideas and resulted in a Black orphan from the Jim Crow South becoming one of our foremost public intellectuals.”

    Dr. Sowell, the distinguished economist and social commentator, examines in three books that the differences of opinion and ideology in America stem from; “The Quest for Cosmic Justice”, “A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles”, and “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy”. These three books by Thomas Sowell should be considered a trilogy and should be read in the above order to have a fuller understanding of the disparate visions that divide us in America. Although these books were written more than a decade ago, the issues and concerns that he illuminates are even more apropos today. For more on these books, I would direct you to my Article, “Crusades of the Social Justice Warriors and Activists”. To sample Dr. Sowell’s brilliance and thoughts, I would recommend a book of a collection of his columns.

    • The Thomas Sowell Reader By Thomas Sowell

      “A one-volume introduction to over three decades of the wide-ranging writings of one of America's most respected and cited authors.

      These selections from the many writings of Thomas Sowell over a period of a half century cover social, economic, cultural, legal, educational, and political issues. The sources range from Dr. Sowell's letters, books, newspaper columns, and articles in both scholarly journals and popular magazines. The topics range from late-talking children to "tax cuts for the rich," baseball, race, war, the role of judges, medical care, and the rhetoric of politicians. These topics are dealt with by sometimes drawing on history, sometimes drawing on economics, and sometimes drawing on a sense of humor.

      The Thomas Sowell Reader includes essays on:* Social Issues* Economics* Political Issues* Legal Issues* Race and Ethnicity* Educational Issues* Biographical Sketches* Random Thoughts.

      "My hope is that this large selection of my writings will reduce the likelihood that readers will misunderstand what I have said on many controversial issues over the years. Whether the reader will agree with all my conclusions is another question entirely. But disagreements can be productive, while misunderstandings seldom are." -- Thomas Sowell”

    Charles Krauthammer did not write many books, but he wrote many columns. Two books by him and his son are a powerful collection of the influential columnist’s most important works.

    • Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer

      “A brilliant stylist known for an uncompromising honesty that challenged conventional wisdom at every turn, Krauthammer dazzled readers for decades with his keen insight into politics and government. His weekly column was a must-read in Washington and across the country. Don’t miss the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit collected in one volume.

      Readers will find here not only the country’s leading conservative thinker offering a pas­sionate defense of limited government, but also a highly independent mind whose views—on feminism, evolution and the death penalty, for example—defy ideological convention. Things That Matter also features several of Krautham­mer’s major path-breaking essays—on bioeth­ics, on Jewish destiny and on America’s role as the world’s superpower—that have pro­foundly influenced the nation’s thoughts and policies. And finally, the collection presents a trove of always penetrating, often bemused re­flections on everything from border collies to Halley’s Comet, from Woody Allen to Win­ston Churchill, from the punishing pleasures of speed chess to the elegance of the perfectly thrown outfield assist.

      With a special, highly autobiographical in­troduction in which Krauthammer reflects on the events that shaped his career and political philosophy, this indispensible chronicle takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the fashions and follies, the tragedies and triumphs, of the last three decades of American life.”

    • The Point of It All: A Lifetime of Great Loves and Endeavors by Charles Krauthammer and Daniel Krauthammer

      “In his decades of work as America’s preeminent political commentator, whether writing about statecraft and foreign policy or reflecting on more esoteric topics such as baseball, spaceflight and medical ethics, Charles Krauthammer elevated the opinion column to a form of art.

      This collection features the columns, speeches and unpublished writings that showcase the best of his original thought and his last, enduring words on the state of American politics, the nature of liberal democracy and the course of world history. The book also includes a deeply personal section offering insight into Krauthammer’s beliefs about what mattered most to him: friendship, family and the principles he lived by.

      The Point of It All is a timely demonstration of what made Charles Krauthammer the most celebrated American columnist and political thinker of his generation, a revealing look at the man behind the words and a lasting testament to his belief that anyone with an open and honest mind can grapple deeply with the most urgent questions in politics and in life.”

    All four of these books are illuminative of these great men’s thinking and are well worth the read.

    10/01/21 A Little Knowledge

    Philosophy, Economics, Religion, Science, and American History are topics that I have a considerable interest in and have read extensively upon and written about on my website. While many people are interested in these subjects, they have too little time to read extensively on these subjects. Therefore, in this month’s Book It, I recommend five books that provide an overview of these subjects yet are easy and enjoyable. They are:

    • A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
      “Philosophy begins with questions about the nature of reality and how we should live. These were the concerns of Socrates, who spent his days in the ancient Athenian marketplace asking awkward questions, disconcerting the people he met by showing them how little they genuinely understood. This engaging book introduces the great thinkers in Western philosophy and explores their most compelling ideas about the world and how best to live in it. In forty brief chapters, Nigel Warburton takes us on a chronological tour of the major ideas in the history of philosophy. He provides interesting and often quirky stories of the lives and deaths of thought-provoking philosophers from Socrates, who chose to die by hemlock poisoning rather than live on without the freedom to think for himself, to Peter Singer, who asks the disquieting philosophical and ethical questions that haunt our own times. Warburton not only makes philosophy accessible, he offers inspiration to think, argue, reason, and question in the tradition of Socrates. "A Little History of Philosophy" presents the grand sweep of humanity's search for philosophical understanding and invites all to join in the discussion.”

    • A Little History of Economics by Niall Kishtainy
      “What causes poverty? Are economic crises inevitable under capitalism? Is government intervention in an economy helpful, or harmful? While the answers to such basic economic questions matter to everyone, the unfamiliar language and math of economics can seem daunting. This clear, accessible, and even humorous book is ideal for young readers new to economic concepts, and for readers of all ages who want to better understand economic history and ideas.

      Economic historian Niall Kishtainy organizes short chapters that center on big ideas and events. He introduces us to some of the key thinkers—Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and others—while examining topics ranging from the invention of money to the Great Depression, entrepreneurship, and behavioral economics. The result is an enjoyable book that succeeds in illuminating the economic ideas and forces that shape our world.”

    • A Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway
      “An emphathetic yet discerning guide to the enduring importance of faith, Richard Holloway introduces us to the history and beliefs of the major world religions—Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism. He also explores where religious belief comes from; the search for meaning through the ages; how differences in belief sometimes lead to hostility and violence; what is a sect and what is a cult; and much more. Throughout, Holloway encourages curiosity and tolerance, accentuates nuance and mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith.”

    • A Little History of Science by William Bynum
      “A spirited volume on the great adventures of science throughout history, for curious readers of all ages

      Science is fantastic. It tells us about the infinite reaches of space, the tiniest living organism, the human body, the history of Earth. People have always been doing science because they have always wanted to make sense of the world and harness its power. From ancient Greek philosophers through Einstein and Watson and Crick to the computer-assisted scientists of today, men and women have wondered, examined, experimented, calculated, and sometimes made discoveries so earthshaking that people understood the world—or themselves—in an entirely new way.

      This inviting book tells a great adventure story: the history of science. It takes readers to the stars through the telescope, as the sun replaces the earth at the center of our universe. It delves beneath the surface of the planet, charts the evolution of chemistry's periodic table, introduces the physics that explain electricity, gravity, and the structure of atoms. It recounts the scientific quest that revealed the DNA molecule and opened unimagined new vistas for exploration.

      Emphasizing surprising and personal stories of scientists both famous and unsung, A Little History of Science traces the march of science through the centuries. The book opens a window on the exciting and unpredictable nature of scientific activity and describes the uproar that may ensue when scientific findings challenge established ideas. With delightful illustrations and a warm, accessible style, this is a volume for young and old to treasure together.”

    • A Little History of the United States by James West Davidson
      “A fast-paced, character-filled history that brings the unique American saga to life for readers of all ages

      How did a land and people of such immense diversity come together under a banner of freedom and equality to form one of the most remarkable nations in the world? Everyone from young adults to grandparents will be fascinated by the answers uncovered in James West Davidson’s vividly told A Little History of the United States. In 300 fast-moving pages, Davidson guides his readers through 500 years, from the first contact between the two halves of the world to the rise of America as a superpower in an era of atomic perils and diminishing resources.

      In short, vivid chapters the book brings to life hundreds of individuals whose stories are part of the larger American story. Pilgrim William Bradford stumbles into an Indian deer trap on his first day in America; Harriet Tubman lets loose a pair of chickens to divert attention from escaping slaves; the toddler Andrew Carnegie, later an ambitious industrial magnate, gobbles his oatmeal with a spoon in each hand. Such stories are riveting in themselves, but they also spark larger questions to ponder about freedom, equality, and unity in the context of a nation that is, and always has been, remarkably divided and diverse.”

    As with all books that provide an overview, they only provide a little learning, and they omit many topics within these subjects. As such, you should remember the following:

    "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."
    - Alexander Pope - An Essay on Criticism

    While you will become cognizant of the subject matter of these books, you will not become sufficiently knowledgeable on these subjects to expound upon them. To expound on these subjects would require that you read more thoroughly on these subjects, and I would recommend you start with the other books that I have recommended in this Book It webpage.

    09/01/21 Think Differently

    Thinking differently is difficult to accomplish. It is especially difficult to accomplish in the world of Quantum Physics. The success of Quantum Physics in creating our modern technological world is without question. However, the underlying reality of Quantum Physics is very much debatable. The vast majority of Quantum Physicist are of a consensus of one view (with variations) of this reality. But not all Quantum Physicist are of this view.

    Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist and writer who has worked in Italy, the United States, and, since 2000, in France. He works mainly in the field of quantum gravity and is a founder of loop quantum gravity theory. He has also worked in the history and philosophy of science. He collaborates with several Italian newspapers, including the cultural supplements of the Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24 Ore, and La Repubblica.  In 2019, he was included by Foreign Policy magazine in a list of 100 most influential global thinkers.

    While I do not agree with many of the things that he postulates (and I often do not fully understand many of these things), I appreciate his perspective. It has also caused me to think more deeply about his ideas, and it has shaped my views on Quantum Physics and the nature of reality. The four books of his that I have read and recommend are:

    • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

      “This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Carlo Rovelli, a renowned theoretical physicist, is a delightfully poetic and philosophical scientific guide. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. The book celebrates the joy of discovery. “Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,” Rovelli writes. “And it’s breathtaking.”

    • Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity

      “What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his life exploring these questions. He tells us how our understanding of reality has changed over the centuries and how physicists think about the structure of the universe today.”

    • The Order of Time

      “Why do we remember the past and not the future? What does it mean for time to "flow"? Do we exist in time, or does time exist in us? In lyric, accessible prose, Carlo Rovelli invites us to consider questions about the nature of time that continue to puzzle physicists and philosophers alike.”

    • Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution

      “One of the world's most renowned theoretical physicists, Carlo Rovelli, has entranced millions of readers with his singular perspective on the cosmos. In Helgoland, he examines the enduring enigma of quantum theory. The quantum world Rovelli describes is as beautiful as it is unnerving.”

    All of these books are short for their subject matter and are easily read, but sometimes more difficult to understand as the subject matter topics are abstruse. However, you will understand the major gist of the topics and subject matter and be grateful for the time and thought you spent on reading these books.

    08/01/21 The Library of Liberty – Part II

    In the previous month’s Book it, I recommended three books that dealt with the American Ideals and Ideas on Liberty and government. This month I recommend three other books on this topic. These six books together thoroughly examine our founding American Ideals and Ideas on Liberty and government. These books, and their examinations on Liberty and government, are timeless as this topic is timeless. While more modern thought on this topic raises additional issues and concerns, the foundation of these ideals and ideas remains a bedrock for discussing our American Ideals and Ideas on Liberty and government.

    The back flap of this book states:

    “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, awarded both the Pulitzer and the Bancroft prizes, has become a classic of American historical literature. Hailed at its first appearance as “the most brilliant study of the meaning of the Revolution to appear in a generation,” it was enlarged in a second edition to include the nationwide debate on the ratification of the Constitution, hence exploring not only the Founders’ initial hopes and aspirations but also their struggle to implement their ideas in constructing the national government.

    Now, in a new preface, Bernard Bailyn reconsiders salient features of the book and isolates the Founders’ profound concern with power. In pamphlets, letters, newspapers, and sermons they returned again and again to the problem of the uses and misuses of power―the great benefits of power when gained and used by popular consent and the political and social devastation when acquired by those who seize it by force or other means and use it for their personal benefit.

    This fiftieth anniversary edition will be welcomed by readers familiar with Bailyn’s book, and it will introduce a new generation to a work that remains required reading for anyone seeking to understand the nation’s historical roots.”

    In this book, the author relates that our Founding Fathers were primarily concerned that power tends to grow at the expense of Liberty. That in human nature power is strong, and Liberty is weak, so, therefore, Liberty must be eternally vigilant to protect against the encroachments of power. By ‘Power’, the Founding Fathers meant Dominion of Government, i.e., the dominance of the people through legal authority. The Founding Fathers also knew that Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy often degenerate into Tyranny, Oligarchy, and Mob Rule, and they wished to protect the people from this degeneration. This book probes our Founding Fathers' anxieties and fears about power by examining the pamphlets and books they wrote and read before drafting the Declaration of Independence.

    The inside flap of this book states:

    “From war powers to health care, freedom of speech to gun ownership, religious Liberty to abortion, practically every aspect of American life is shaped by the Constitution. This vital document, along with its history of political and judicial interpretation, governs our individual lives and the life of our nation. Yet most of us know surprisingly little about the Constitution itself, and are woefully unprepared to think for ourselves about recent developments in its long and storied history.

    The Constitution: An Introduction is the definitive modern primer on the US Constitution. Michael Stokes Paulsen, one of the nation's most provocative and accomplished scholars of the Constitution, and his son Luke Paulsen, a gifted young writer and lay scholar, have combined to write a lively introduction to the supreme law of the United States, covering the Constitution's history and meaning in clear, accessible terms.

    Beginning with the Constitution's birth in 1787, Paulsen and Paulsen offer a grand tour of its provisions, principles, and interpretation, introducing readers to the characters and controversies that have shaped the Constitution in the 200-plus years since its creation. Along the way, the authors provide correctives to the shallow myths and partial truths that pervade so much popular treatment of the Constitution, from school textbooks to media accounts of today's controversies, and offer powerful insights into the Constitution's true meaning.

    A lucid and engaging guide, The Constitution: An Introduction provides readers with the tools to think critically and independently about constitutional issues -- a skill that is ever more essential to the continued flourishing of American democracy.”

    Written by a father-son duo, with the father being a Constitutional scholar and the son being a software engineer, this book is eminently readable and understandable by the public. The editorial reviews of this book have been uniformly excellent. One editorial review, by a most respected historian, is especially insightful:

    "This readable history of the Constitution as it has evolved over more than two centuries corrects many false beliefs about that document and its applicability to every corner of American life. Written in a style that makes it accessible to readers at several levels, this book tells the human story of the ways in which the world's oldest written constitution has shaped our experience."
     - James M. McPherson, Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

    From the Inside Flap of this book:

    “The indispensable reference to the U.S. Constitution — now fully revised and updated.

    Law students and attorneys, policy makers and ordinary citizens turn to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution for insight into every clause of the most important governing charter in history.

    First published in 2005, this unique and essential resource is a landmark in the rise of the originalist school of constitutional interpretation. This revised edition takes into account a decade of Supreme Court decisions and legal scholarship on such issues as gun rights, religious freedom, campaign finance, civil rights, and health care reform.

    The Founding Fathers' guiding principles remain unchanged, yet a number of Supreme Court decisions over the last decade are a reminder that those principles require a constant and spirited defense. The Heritage Guide is the first place to turn for every layman, student, lawyer, and jurist preparing himself to join in that defense.

    Scholars David Forte and Matthew Spalding have brought together 114 of their fellow experts in law, history, and public policy to offer an authoritative and accessible introduction to every clause of the U.S. Constitution, explaining its meaning, its history, and why it matters.”

    The back flap of this book states:

    “A landmark work of more than one hundred scholars, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is a unique line-by-line analysis explaining every clause of America's founding charter and its contemporary meaning.

    In this fully revised second edition, leading scholars in law, history, and public policy offer more than two hundred updated and incisive essays on every clause of the Constitution.

    From the stirring words of the Preamble to the Twenty-seventh Amendment, you will gain new insights into the ideas that made America, important debates that continue from our Founding, and the Constitution's true meaning for our nation.”

    Whenever I question the meaning of something in the Constitution, I turn to this reference guide to obtain a lucid and meaningful explanation. These explanations are easily understood by the average American and do not contain legalese. They are, of course, explanations based on the ‘Constitutional Originalism” interpretation, as I discussed in my Chirp on, “07/22/21 ‘Constitutional Originalism’ versus ‘A Living Constitution”.

    07/01/21 The Library of Liberty – Part I

    Our American Ideals and Ideas of “Freedoms, Liberties, Equalities, and Equal Justice for All” are enshrined in our two founding documents: The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. Yet, very few Americans have read these documents, and fewer still understand their meaning. The following three books, with their Amazon summary, are the best guides to our American Ideals and Ideas:

    • The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty by Timothy Sandefur

      “As George Will, The Washington Post columnist, has stated, ”Now the nation no longer lacks what it has long needed, a slender book that lucidly explains the intensity of conservatism's disagreements with progressivism. For the many Americans who are puzzled and dismayed by the heatedness of political argument today, the message of Timothy Sandefur's The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty is this: The temperature of today's politics is commensurate to the stakes of today's argument."

      Now in paperback, this book provides a dramatic new challenge to the status quo of constitutional law and argues a vital truth: our Constitution was written not to empower democracy, but to secure liberty. Yet the overemphasis on democracy by today's legal community has helped expand the scope of government power at the expense of individual rights. Now, more than ever, the Declaration of Independence should be the framework for interpreting our fundamental law. It is the conscience of the Constitution.”

    As the author has said in his conclusion:

    “In calling the Declaration of Independence the “conscience” of the Constitution, I have used the word advisedly. Whether we imagine it is a still, small voice, or Jiminy Cricket from Disney’s Pinocchio, conscience is a quality within us to seems to stand outside our more mundane thoughts to guide our actions. It lies at the boundary between is and ought: it understands reasons and it gives reasons. It is the hallmark of the responsible person – or nation. When it comes to the American constitutional order, the Declaration of Independence gives us the standard; it stands above our political arguments to explain the basis and limits of rightful government. Readers of the Constitution should choose their route thereby.”

    “Is liberty or democracy the primary constitutional value? At a time when Americans are increasingly facing violations of their civil liberties, Timothy Sandefur's insightful new book explains why the Declaration of Independence, with its doctrines on the primacy of Liberty, the natural rights of man, and the limits on legitimate government, should serve as the guidepost for understanding the Constitution. The author takes the reader through the ideas of substantive due process and judicial activism and defends them from mainstream criticisms while drawing on examples from literature, television, and Supreme Court cases. The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty argues that modern legal doctrines, which value democracy over Liberty, are endangering individual rights and corrupting our civic institutions.”

     “The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty documents a forgotten truth: the word "democracy" is nowhere to be found in either the Constitution or the Declaration. But it is the overemphasis of democracy by the legal community–rather than the primacy of Liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence–that has led to the growth of government power at the expense of individual rights. Now, more than ever, Sandefur explains, the Declaration of Independence should set the framework for interpreting our fundamental law. In the very first sentence of the Constitution, the founding fathers stated unambiguously that "liberty" is a blessing. Today, more and more Americans are realizing that their individual freedoms are being threatened by the ever-expanding scope of the government. Americans have always differed over important political issues, but some things should not be settled by majority vote. In The Conscience of the Constitution, Timothy Sandefur presents a dramatic new challenge to the status quo of constitutional law.”

    Many ideas on Liberty and government were written, discussed, and debated prior to the formulation of The Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence has been utilized to shape American government and law by providing the ideological basis for our Constitutional governance. This book discusses how the Declaration of Independence shaped our American ideas on Liberty and how it was applied to our governance throughout our history.

    The back flap of this book states:

    “This book provides a complete overview of the American Founders' political theory, covering natural rights, natural law, state of nature, social compact, consent, and the policy implications of these ideas. The book is intended as a response to the current scholarly consensus, which holds that the Founders' political thought is best understood as an amalgam of liberalism, republicanism, and perhaps other traditions. West argues that, on the contrary, the foundational documents overwhelmingly point to natural rights as the lens through which all politics is understood. The book explores in depth how the Founders' supposedly republican policies on citizen character formation do not contradict but instead complement their liberal policies on property and economics. Additionally, the book shows how the Founders' embraced other traditions in their politics, such as common law and Protestantism - was always guided and limited by overreaching principles derived from the laws of nature.”

    This book is a thorough introduction to the Founding Fathers' ideas on Natural Rights and their impacts on public policy and the moral conditions (hint: Virtue) required for a people to obtain and retain Liberty and Freedom and a just society. This is a scholarly but readable work that requires much thought after reading each chapter. Although it will take time and effort to read and digest the contents of this book, you will be satisfied that after doing so that the time and effort were eminently worthwhile.

    From the synopsis by GoodReads:

    “Some people - including the former law instructor who has served as President of the United States - believe that it is impossible to reconstruct the Constitution's original meaning. As this book demonstrates, that view is substantially incorrect.

    The Original Constitution fills a void that has existed for a long time---the need for a clear, complete, easy-to-read guide to what our Constitution really means.

    Using evidence overlooked by nearly all other writers and assessing it with scrupulous objectivity, The Original Constitution tells you the truth about the Constitution. The Constitution the Founders gave us, that is, instead of the distorted version of it foisted upon us today.

    In The Original Constitution you will learn: What the Founders empowered Congress to do-and the limits they imposed. Why modern "free speech" law is largely wrong. What the Constitution's ban on "establishment of religion" really means. The facts may surprise you. How politicians and activist judges pulled American government away from its constitutional roots. What the Constitution really means when it uses terms like "impeachment," "commerce," "necessary and proper," and "natural born."

    The Original Constitution is a timeless work. It gives you the tools you need to understand the proper role of the federal government and to counter common myths about America's Founders and the Constitution they gave us. Written in a style readily understandable by the average citizen, this book certainly will be an indispensable part of your personal library.”

    Written by a Constitutional scholar whose opinions have been utilized in several Supreme Court decisions, this book is a very readable, lucid, and rational book that covers the Founding Fathers' understanding of what they said and meant by the words of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. By utilizing the meaning of words and phrases at the time they were written, this book provides a lucid understanding of the intention of the Founding Fathers in the text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Therefore, this book is a basis for the ‘Constitutional Originalism’ interpretation of the Constitution.

    As been said, ‘First came liberty, then came government’ as Liberty is based on Natural Law and Natural Rights and governments are instituted to protect our liberties. Natural Law is the belief that certain laws of morality are inherent by human nature, reason, or religious belief, and that they are ethically binding on humanity. Natural Rights are those that are not dependent on the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government and are therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws). Natural Rights are those endowed by birth and are to be protected by the government. These Natural Rights include Life, Liberty, and property, among others. Human rights, on the other hand, are rights deemed so by society. In America, these Human Rights are our Constitutional Rights that cannot be violated by our government. The concept of negative law is related to the concept of Human Rights. Civil Rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system (they can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws). The concept of positive law is related to the concept of legal rights. Negative and positive rights are rights that oblige either inaction (negative rights) or action (positive rights), and that these obligations may be of either legal or moral character.

    All of these books examine the understanding of our Founding Fathers on Natural Law and Natural Rights and how they based their understanding in the crafting of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. After reading these books, you will know and understand these documents and their importance in both yesteryear and today’s society.

    06/01/21 The Liberal Mind

    The book “The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness” by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr. M.D. is about the psychological basis of the Progressives/Leftists mindset and human nature and human freedom. Although the book was published in 2006, the Liberal Agenda has become more pronounced and easily understood by the words and deeds of today's “Progressives/Leftists”. All should read this book to understand the liberal mindset and its psychological basis, as stated From the Preface:

    “This book is about human nature and human freedom, and the relationship between them. Its contents are an outgrowth of my life-long interest in how the mind works. That interest, beginning at about age twelve, eventually led me to careers in clinical and forensic psychiatry and to the particular access these disciplines provide to human psychology. Disorders of personality have been a special focus of this interest. First in clinical practice and then in forensic evaluations, I have had the opportunity to study the nature of personality and the factors which affect its development. The practice of forensic psychiatry has permitted an especially close look at the manner in which all mental illnesses, including personality disorders, interact with society's rules for acceptable conduct. These rules, both civil and criminal, largely define the domains of human freedom and the conditions that ground social order.

    Historically, of course, western ideas about freedom and social order have come from fields quite distant from psychiatry: philosophy, ethics, jurisprudence, history, theology, economics, anthropology, sociology, art and literature, among others. But the workings of the human mind as understood by psychiatry and psychology are necessarily relevant to these disciplines and to the social institutions that arise from them. This book is an attempt to connect mechanisms of the mind to certain economic, social and political conditions, those under which freedom and order may flourish. Although I have made strenuous efforts to follow where reason leads, I have not written this book out of intellectual interest alone. My intent has been more "generative" than that, to use one of Erik Erikson's terms. It has, in fact, grown out of a deep concern for the future of ordered liberty. In their efforts "to form a more perfect Union," America's founding fathers intended, as the Preamble tells us, to establish justice, insure peace, provide for the nation's defense, promote its general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. But the entire twentieth century, and the dawn of the twenty-first, have witnessed modern liberalism's relentless attacks on all of these goals and on all of the principles on which individual liberty and rational social order rest. Although they are strikingly deficient in political substance, these attacks have nevertheless been successful in exploiting the psychological nature of man for socialist purposes. To counter the destructiveness of these attacks requires a clear understanding of the relationship between human psychology and social process. It is my hope that this book makes at least a small contribution to that purpose.

    More information about this book can be viewed at his website The Liberty Mind. Although the book was published in 2006, the Liberal/Progressive/Leftist Agenda has become more pronounced and easily understood by the words and deeds of today's "Progressives/Leftists" and the Democrat Party. These political goals and policy agendas are antithetical to our American Ideals and should frighten any person who believes in “Freedoms, Liberties, Equalities, and Equal Justice for All”.

    This book inspired me to create articles that are extractions from this book. I would suggest that you read these articles in the following order to obtain the essence of this book:

    • The Liberal Mind Overview - This article is an overview of the three sections of this book, which I have titled: I – The Nature of Man, II – The Development to Adulthood, and III – The Adult Liberal.
    • The Liberal Mindset – This article is the author's selections from the book that highlight the major topics of the book.
    • The Two Liberal Minds Beliefs - This article defines two types of liberals: ‘The Benign Liberal’ and ‘The Radical Liberal’ and their different viewpoints and perspectives.
    • The Liberal Manifesto Major Principles - The section “The Liberal Manifesto: Major Principles” from Chapter 35 examines their political goals and policy agendas of today's Progressives/Leftists and the Democrat Party. I have excerpted this section of the book for your review and consideration.
    • The Liberal Integrity and Treatment - The Chapter 48 section, ‘Integrity and Treatment’, has the best explanation of the difference between the Liberal and Conservative mindset that I have ever encountered. I have excerpted four sections of this chapter of the book for your review and consideration, and as a basis for understanding the psychological nature of the political divides that are occurring in America today.
    • The Ideal and Reality in Radical Liberalism – The Chapter 47 sections, ‘The Liberal Agenda as an Evil’, and ‘Ideal and Reality in Radical Liberalism’ contradicts the claims of moral superiority and correctness that The Liberal Mind so often self-proclaims.

    05/01/21 The Second World Wars

    There is only one book this month, but one book that is well worth the read. The Second World War has faded from memory with the passing of the generation who fought it. The succeeding generations have romanticized it or are uninformed or misinformed about The Second World War. Many books have been written about The Second World War, mostly about the battles, strategy, and tactics of the Atlantic or Pacific theatres of the war. Some books about the precursor to the war, and some about the aftermath of the war

    I have read and relied upon a few of these books for my knowledge of World War II. However, many of these books touch upon ancillary topics to their main thrust. To my knowledge, however, no book has been written until now that ties together all the different aspects of The Second World War. The book that has done this is:

    • The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson

      “World War II was the most lethal conflict in human history. Never before had a war been fought on so many diverse landscapes and in so many different ways, from rocket attacks in London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya.

      The Second World Wars examines how combat unfolded in the air, at sea, and on land to show how distinct conflicts among disparate combatants coalesced into one interconnected global war. Drawing on 3,000 years of military history, bestselling author Victor Davis Hanson argues that despite its novel industrial barbarity, neither the war's origins nor its geography were unusual. Nor was its ultimate outcome surprising. The Axis powers were well prepared to win limited border conflicts, but once they blundered into global war, they had no hope of victory.

      An authoritative new history of astonishing breadth, The Second World Wars offers a stunning reinterpretation of history's deadliest conflict.”

    The parts of this book demonstrate the breadth and interrelations of all the aspects of The Second World War from both the Allies and Axis perspectives. These parts are; 1) Ideas, 2) Air, 3) Water, 4) Earth, 5) Fire, 6) People, and 7) Ends. If you wish to understand the totality of The Second World War, I can highly recommend this book.

    Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. As a National Review Institute fellow, he has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson is perhaps best known for his 2001 book, Carnage and Culture.

    Victor Davis Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism.

    04/01/21 The Wit and Wisdom of Evan Sayet

    Evan Sayet (born October 29, 1960) is a comedian and conservative speaker whose perception of American society and politics are penetrating. He has written three books and many articles on these topics. The books of his that I would recommend that you read are:

    • "KinderGarden Of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks" by Evan Sayet

      "Why the Modern Liberal's thinking leads him to side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success. Further extrapolating on the ideas in his wildly popular viral youtube talk to the Heritage Foundation, that has received over 600k hits, Evan Sayet uses his signature wit in this new book to ask thought- provoking questions during these turbulent economic and social times. And he provides the reader with some surprising answers. Andrew Breitbart said that Evan Sayet's Heritage Foundation Speech was 'one of the five most important conservative speeches ever given.' That speech was the foundation for this book. How did the song "Imagine" by John Lennon become the perfect symbol of liberal thinking? Why does Bruce Springsteen dub "pain" as the wages of toil and hard work? What's the Democrats' beef with God? What do they have against the Jews of Israel? Why do they want abortion to be commonplace and frequent? Why does the Modern Liberal –the dominant force in today's Democratic Party and in so much of today's popular culture – seem to always side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success? Evan Sayet answers those questions and a lot more."

    • "THE WOKE SUPREMACY: An Anti-Socialist Manifesto" by Evan Sayet

      "As America grows more and more divided, The Woke Supremacy takes an honest look at the Democratic Socialist movement, its founding, its history, what it is its followers want, and what it is they're willing to do to get it. There simply could not be a more important book at a more important juncture in American -- and world -- history."

    • "Apocali Now!" by Evan Sayet and A.F. Branco

      “"Apocali" is the made-up plural of apocalypse and the never ending apocalyptic visions used by greedy control freaks to increase their wealth and power. Al Gore has made millions off of the latest scheme, "Global Warming", while socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi use it to push a Big-Government agenda. In this faux children's book, political comedian and philosopher Evan Sayet, walks us through the plethora of environmental "apocali" that have come and gone through the years and the scam behind man-made Global Warming. Illustrated by the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist A.F. Branco, Apocali Now! makes a great read for your children and an even better gift for your left-wing friends."

    I believe that if you read these three books, you will have a better understanding of the Progressives/Leftists mindset, which will lead you to better analyze and refute their arguments. Even if you agree or disagree with Evan Sayet, these books will make you think about this issue of the Progressives/Leftists mindset.

    03/01/21 Apocalypse Never

    Only one recommended book this month, but If you care about the environment and care about the people of the world, then this book is a must-read. The book summarizes the best-available science and debunks the myths repeated by scientists, journalists, and activists on environmental impacts and the fear tactics they utilize to advance their goals.

    • "Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All" by Michael Shellenberger

      “Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. It is not even our most serious environmental problem.

      Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions.

      But in 2019, as some claimed “billions of people are going to die,” contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction.

      Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.

      Curiously, the people who are the most alarmist about the problems also tend to oppose the obvious solutions.

      What’s really behind the rise of apocalyptic environmentalism? There are powerful financial interests. There are desires for status and power. But most of all there is a desire among supposedly secular people for transcendence. This spiritual impulse can be natural and healthy. But in preaching fear without love, and guilt without redemption, the new religion is failing to satisfy our deepest psychological and existential needs.”

    "Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book," says historian Richard Rhodes, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Making of the Atomic Bomb. "Within its lively pages, Michael Shellenberger rescued with science and lived experience a subject drowning in misunderstanding and partisanship. His message is invigorating: if you have feared for the planet's future, take heart."

    My recent article, "Environmental Impacts of Energy Utilization", was inspired by this book. Although I was aware of the issue of Energy Utilization and other environmental issues and concerns, this book is comprehensive and readable on environmental issues and concerns and the actual science, economics, and politics of Climate Change.

    02/01/21 American Ideals

    In an America of; Progressives/LeftistsDemocrat Party LeadersMainstream Cultural MediaMainstream MediaModern Big BusinessModern EducationSocial MediaPolitical CorrectnessVirtue SignalingCancel CultureWokenessIdentity PoliticsEquity and Equality, the Greater Good versus the Common Good, the "Social Engineering", and "Herd Mentality", as I have written in the "Terminology" webpage, it can be difficult to remember our American Ideals. These three books will acquaint or reacquaint you with our American Ideals and Ideas.

    • For Ourselves and Our Posterity: The Preamble to the Federal Constitution in American History by Peter Charles Hoffer

      “In For Ourselves and Our Posterity: The Preamble to the Federal Constitution in American History, author Peter Charles Hoffer offers a sweeping, dramatic narration of a crucial moment in Early American history. Over the course of five days in September 1787, five men serving on an ad hoc "Committee of Style and Arrangement" edited the draft of the federal Constitution at the Constitutional Convention, profoundly recasting the wording of the Preamble. In so doing, the committee changed a federation into a Union and laid out an ambitious program for national governance many years ahead of its time. The Preamble and all that it came to represent was the unique achievement of a remarkable group of men at a momentous turning point in American history. Providing a clear exposition of constitutional issues, For Ourselves and Our Posterity features individual portraits of the leading framers at the heart of this dramatic event.”

      “Have you ever wanted to read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and really understand what they're saying?

      Learn how they impact your life; your rights and freedoms? How the branches of government were formed, and why?

      You're not alone. Millions of Americans want a deeper understanding of their country's founding principles and don't know where to start. When the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written by our founders over two centuries ago, they were designed to endure. And indeed they've remained, as Paul Skousen writes, "the most amazing freedom formula ever invented"--but navigating eighteenth-century legal language can be challenging.

      Recognizing this problem, Skousen provides an easy, step-by-step guide that will forever change the way you think about your country and your freedoms. Using visual tools, exercises, and several valuable memory aids, this book will help you:

      • Master the Constitution's seven articles and the twenty-seven important rights named in the Bill of Rights.
      • Navigate the Declaration's five power statements on freedom and unlock their eighteenth-century phrases with a convenient glossary.
      • Find the answers to ten popular myths about the Constitution.
      • Discover how the Constitution's guiding principles protect human rights.
      • And so much more.
      Thousands of books describe the origins of these famous documents, but only How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence gives you a path to truly understanding them.”

    • Introduction to American Citizenship by Thomas Krannawitter

      “You've likely seen pocket versions of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

      This is better.

      "Introduction to American Citizenship" contains the full text of those two important American documents, a bullet-point guide to the key ideas enshrined in both, and a short, eloquent explanation of the connection between those ideas and the rights and duties inseparable from being a citizen of the United States.

      "Introduction to American Citizenship" is perfect for students, new citizens, and anyone who wants to understand and teach others the way of life required if we are to remain self-governing, free citizens within a republic of constitutionally limited and separated powers.”

    01/01/21 The Soul of Our Founding Fathers

    Rather than a straightforward biography of the Founding Fathers, these three books attempt to look into the internal and external forces that shaped their thinking.

    • First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country by Thomas E. Ricks

      “The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author offers a revelatory new book about the founding fathers, examining their educations and, in particular, their devotion to the ancient Greek and Roman classics—and how that influence would shape their ideals and the new American nation.

      On the morning after the 2016 presidential election, Thomas Ricks awoke with a few questions on his mind: What kind of nation did we now have? Is it what was designed or intended by the nation’s founders? Trying to get as close to the source as he could, Ricks decided to go back and read the philosophy and literature that shaped the founders’ thinking, and the letters they wrote to each other debating these crucial works—among them the Iliad, Plutarch’s Lives, and the works of Xenophon, Epicurus, Aristotle, Cato, and Cicero. For though much attention has been paid the influence of English political philosophers, like John Locke, closer to their own era, the founders were far more immersed in the literature of the ancient world.

      The first four American presidents came to their classical knowledge differently. Washington absorbed it mainly from the elite culture of his day; Adams from the laws and rhetoric of Rome; Jefferson immersed himself in classical philosophy, especially Epicureanism; and Madison, both a groundbreaking researcher and a deft politician, spent years studying the ancient world like a political scientist. Each of their experiences, and distinctive learning, played an essential role in the formation of the United States. In examining how and what they studied, looking at them in the unusual light of the classical world, Ricks is able to draw arresting and fresh portraits of men we thought we knew.

      First Principles follows these four members of the Revolutionary generation from their youths to their adult lives, as they grappled with questions of independence, and forming and keeping a new nation. In doing so, Ricks interprets not only the effect of the ancient world on each man, and how that shaped our constitution and government, but offers startling new insights into these legendary leaders.”

    • Founding Fathers: The Essential Guide to the Men Who Made America by The Encyclopaedia Britannica (Editor), Joseph J. Ellis (Introduction)

      “An authoritative, accessible guide to the figures who shaped a nation.

      How did upstart colonists solidify the ideas celebrated in the Declaration of Independence and defeat the powerful British army? How did thinkers from disparate backgrounds shape a government that transformed modern politics? The Founding Fathers explains how, putting valuable information on this historic period at your fingertips--straight from one of the most trusted sources of information around the globe.

      This comprehensive guide takes a compelling look at prominent statesmen such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Washington and lesser-known but influential leaders such as Samuel Chase, Charles Pinckney, and others. Alphabetized for easy reference, it also offers discussions of key issues, including slavery, the separation of powers, the presidency, and Deism and Christianity; events, such as the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion, and the Louisiana Purchase; and documents, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Every special essay and concise entry--from ""Abigail Adams"" to ""George Wythe""--promotes the deeper understanding of the personalities, issues, and events that only Encyclop?dia Britannica can provide.

      The book's balanced, fact-based coverage of the Founding Fathers is especially relevant today, when differing interpretations of their intent are used in debates over current policies. The Founding Fathers is the ideal resource for anyone looking to hone his or her knowledge of the fascinating figures who wrote the first chapter of U.S. history.”

    • The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution by Gregg L. Frazer

      “Were America's Founders Christians or deists? Conservatives and secularists have taken each position respectively, mustering evidence to insist just how tall the wall separating church and state should be. Now Gregg Frazer puts their arguments to rest in the first comprehensive analysis of the Founders' beliefs as they themselves expressed them—showing that today's political right and left are both wrong.

      Going beyond church attendance or public pronouncements made for political ends, Frazer scrutinizes the Founders' candid declarations regarding religion found in their private writings. Distilling decades of research, he contends that these men were neither Christian nor deist but rather adherents of a system he labels "theistic rationalism," a hybrid belief system that combined elements of natural religion, Protestantism, and reason—with reason the decisive element.

      Frazer explains how this theological middle ground developed, what its core beliefs were, and how they were reflected in the thought of eight Founders: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington. He argues convincingly that Congregationalist Adams is the clearest example of theistic rationalism; that presumed deists Jefferson and Franklin are less secular than supposed; and that even the famously taciturn Washington adheres to this theology. He also shows that the Founders held genuinely religious beliefs that aligned with morality, republican government, natural rights, science, and progress.

      Frazer's careful explication helps readers better understand the case for revolutionary recruitment, the religious references in the Declaration of Independence, and the religious elements-and lack thereof-in the Constitution. He also reveals how influential clergymen, backing their theology of theistic rationalism with reinterpreted Scripture, preached and published liberal democratic theory to justify rebellion.

      Deftly blending history, religion, and political thought, Frazer succeeds in showing that the American experiment was neither a wholly secular venture nor an attempt to create a Christian nation founded on biblical principles. By showcasing the actual approach taken by these key Founders, he suggests a viable solution to the twenty-first-century standoff over the relationship between church and state—and challenges partisans on both sides to articulate their visions for America on their own merits without holding the Founders hostage to positions they never held.”

    12/01/20 Understanding Incorrect Thinking

    When constructing a philosophical argument, you must be aware of the common pitfalls in the construction of the argument. These three books provide an introduction to the common pitfalls of both philosophical and common arguments.

    • Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argumentation by Douglas N. Walton

      “This is an introductory guide to the basic principles of constructing good arguments and criticizing bad ones. It is nontechnical in its approach, and is based on 150 key examples, each discussed and evaluated in clear, illustrative detail. The author explains how errors, fallacies, and other key failures of argument occur. He shows how correct uses of argument are based on sound argument strategies for reasoned persuasion and critical questions for responding. Among the many subjects covered are: techniques of posing, replying to, and criticizing questions, forms of valid argument, relevance, appeals to emotion, personal attack, uses and abuses of expert opinion, problems in deploying statistics, loaded terms, equivocation, and arguments from analogy.”

    • Informal Logical Fallacies: A Brief Guide by Jacob Van Vleet

      “Critical thinking is now needed more than ever. This accessible and engaging book provides the necessary tools to question and challenge the discourse that surrounds us --- whether in the media, the classroom, or everyday conversation. Additionally, it offers readers a deeper understanding of the foundations of analytical thought. Informal Logical Fallacies: A Brief Guide is a systematic and concise introduction to more than forty fallacies, from anthropomorphism and argumentum ad baculum, to reductionism and the slippery slope argument. With helpful definitions, relevant examples, and thought-provoking exercises, the author guides the reader through the realms of fallacious reasoning and deceptive rhetoric. This is an essential guide to philosophical reflection and clear thinking.”

    • Mindfields: How cognitive biases confuse our thinking in politics and life. by Burt Webb

      “Mindfields is a catalog of cognitive biases which are quirks of the human mind that distort our thinking. Brief descriptions are given for each bias along with notes on how they are respected or abused in politics, business and everyday life. Each entry ends with advice on how you can deal with these biases in your own life.

    11/01/20 Philosophy

    When reading my web pages, you will notice that I often take a philosophical approach to discussing issues and concerns. But why do I take a philosophical approach? The answer is because Philosophy teaches you how to think, not what to think. I also believe that a philosophical approach is the best means to resolve the issues and concerns that beset modern America. My Article, “A Philosophical Approach”, explains my reasoning. The following three books will help you understand the philosophical approach to thinking.

    • Everything Is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails Us by Duncan J. Watts

      “Drawing on the latest scientific research, along with a wealth of historical and contemporary examples, Watts shows how common sense reasoning and history conspire to mislead us into believing that we understand more about the world of human behavior than we do; and in turn, why attempts to predict, manage, or manipulate social and economic systems so often go awry.

      It seems obvious, for example, that people respond to incentives; yet policy makers and managers alike frequently fail to anticipate how people will respond to the incentives they create. Social trends often seem to be driven by certain influential people; yet marketers have been unable to identify these “influencers” in advance. And although successful products or companies always seem in retrospect to have succeeded because of their unique qualities, predicting the qualities of the next hit product or hot company is notoriously difficult even for experienced professionals.

      Watts' argument has important implications in politics, business, and marketing, as well as in science and everyday life.”

    • Ten Philosophical Mistakes by Mortimer J. Adler

      “Ten Philosophical Mistakes examines ten errors in modern thought and shows how they have led to serious consequences in our everyday lives. It teaches how they came about, how to avoid them, and how to counter their negative effects.”

    • Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn

      “Here at last is a coherent, unintimidating introduction to the challenging and fascinating landscape of Western philosophy. Written expressly for "anyone who believes there are big questions out there, but does not know how to approach them," Think provides a sound framework for exploring the most basic themes of philosophy, and for understanding how major philosophers have tackled the questions that have pressed themselves most forcefully on human consciousness.

      Simon Blackburn, author of the best-selling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, begins by making a convincing case for the relevance of philosophy and goes on to give the reader a sense of how the great historical figures such as Plato, Hume, Kant, Descartes, and others have approached its central themes. In a lively and accessible style, Blackburn approaches the nature of human reflection and how we think, or can think, about knowledge, fate, ethics, identity, God, reason, and truth. Each chapter explains a major issue, and gives the reader a self-contained guide through the problems that the philosophers have studied. Because the text approaches these issues from the gound up, the untrained reader will emerge from its pages able to explore other philosophies with greater pleasure and understanding and be able to think--philosophically--for him or herself.

      Philosophy is often dismissed as a purely academic discipline with no relation to the "real" world non-philosophers are compelled to inhabit. Think dispels this myth and offers a springboard for all those who want to learn how the basic techniques of thinking shape our virtually every aspect of our existence.”

    10/01/20 Claude Frederic Bastiat

    Claude Frederic Bastiat was a French economist and political philosopher of the mid-19th century. Even though his examples are of that time, they are perfectly understandable by anyone in today's world. I would encourage all to read his essays, and if I could, I would make it required reading for all high school students. His three most important essays are available for free on the following web pages:

      • "In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them."
          -  That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen

      • "Life, faculties, production,in other words, individuality, liberty, property, this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."

        "Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim -- when he defends himself -- as a criminal."
          -  The Law

      • "The Government! What is it? Where is it? What does it do? What ought it to do? All we know is, that it is a mysterious personage; and, assuredly, it is the most solicited, the most tormented, the most overwhelmed, the most admired, the most accused, the most invoked, and the most provoked of any personage in the world."
          -  Government

      However, if you prefer a book, I would recommend the following:

        • The Bastiat Collection

          “The world has always needed this: a gigantic collection of Bastiat's greatest work in a single, super-handy pocket edition, at a ridiculously affordable price. All of the best essays by this giant of liberty are here, 1000 plus pages of it, but in a compact package that it is still easy to read. In fact, it is a joy to hold and even more to read because the text just jumps off the page.

          Putting this together was a challenge but one we accepted because many people said that our two-volume hardback, though beautiful, was too costly and cumbersome. For some collectors, this was great, but what about students and people who read on the subway, or on lunch break, or just want to throw the book into an overnight bag for a quick trip somewhere?

          We can't be more pleased at the result. This is the Bastiat Collection that the world has needed.”

      09/01/20 The Meaning of History

      Many history books revolve around the times, persons, and actions of historical events or personages. Some history books deal with the meaning of these historical events or personages and their impacts on today's society. It is these history books that deal with impacts that I find the most interesting and illuminative. The following three books are just such books that deal with President Lincoln and the Civil War. The idiom 'Food for thought' is never more apropos than within these books.

      • Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo

        “The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful of challenges.

        In Fateful Lightning, two-time Lincoln Prize-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo offers a marvelous portrait of the Civil War and its era, covering not only the major figures and epic battles, but also politics, religion, gender, race, diplomacy, and technology. And unlike other surveys of the Civil War era, it extends the reader's vista to include the postwar Reconstruction period and discusses the modern-day legacy of the Civil War in American literature and popular culture. Guelzo also puts the conflict in a global perspective, underscoring Americans' acute sense of the vulnerability of their republic in a world of monarchies. He examines the strategy, the tactics, and especially the logistics of the Civil War and brings the most recent historical thinking to bear on emancipation, the presidency and the war powers, the blockade and international law, and the role of intellectuals, North and South.

        Written by a leading authority on our nation's most searing crisis, Fateful Lightning offers a vivid and original account of an event whose echoes continue with Americans to this day.”

      • Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas by Allen C. Guelzo

        “Abraham Lincoln was a skilled politician, an inspirational leader, and a man of humor and pathos. What many may not realize is how much he was also a man of ideas. Despite the most meager of formal educations, Lincoln’s tremendous intellectual curiosity drove him into the circle of Enlightenment philosophy and democratic political ideology. And from these, Lincoln developed a set of political convictions that guided him throughout his life and his presidency. Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas, a compilation of ten essays from Lincoln scholar, Allen C. Guelzo, uncovers the hidden sources of Lincoln’s ideas and examines the beliefs that directed his career and brought an end to slavery and the Civil War.

        These essays reveal Lincoln to be a man of impressive intellectual probity and depth as well as a man of great contradictions. He was an apostle of freedom who did not believe in human free will; a champion of the Constitution who had to step outside of it in order to save it; a man of many acquaintances and admirers, but few friends; a man who opposed slavery but also opposed the abolition of it; a man of prudence who took more political risks than any other president.

        Guelzo explores the many faces of Lincoln’s ideas, and especially the influence of the Founding Fathers and the great European champions of democracy. And he links the 16th president’s struggles with the issues of race, emancipation, religion, and civil liberties to the challenges these issues continue to offer to Americans today.

        Lincoln played many roles in his life—lawyer, politician, president—but in each he was driven by a core of values, convictions, and beliefs about economics, society, and democracy. Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas is a broad and exciting survey of the ideas that made Lincoln great, just as we celebrate the bicentennial his birth.”

      • Redeeming the Great Emancipator by Allen C. Guelzo

        “The larger-than-life image Abraham Lincoln projects across the screen of American history owes much to his role as the Great Emancipator during the Civil War. Yet this noble aspect of Lincoln’s identity is precisely the dimension that some historians have cast into doubt. In a vigorous defense of America’s sixteenth president, award-winning historian and Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo refutes accusations of Lincoln’s racism and political opportunism, while candidly probing the follies of contemporary cynicism and the constraints of today’s unexamined faith in the liberating powers of individual autonomy.

        Redeeming the Great Emancipator enumerates Lincoln’s anti-slavery credentials, showing that a deeply held belief in the God-given rights of all people steeled the president in his commitment to emancipation and his hope for racial reconciliation. Emancipation did not achieve complete freedom for American slaves, nor was Lincoln entirely above some of the racial prejudices of his time. Nevertheless, his conscience and moral convictions far outweighed political calculations in ultimately securing freedom for black Americans.

        Guelzo clarifies the historical record concerning what the Emancipation Proclamation did and did not accomplish. As a policy it was imperfect, but it was far from ineffectual, as some accounts of African American self-emancipation imply. To achieve liberation required interdependence across barriers of race and status. If we fail to recognize our debt to the sacrifices and ingenuity of all the brave men and women of the past, Guelzo says, then we deny a precious part of the American and, indeed, the human community.”

      08/01/20 American Biography Founders

      There are many great biographies of important Americans written by many historians and commentators.  However, many of these biographies are tomes that are well written and researched but can make for dry reading. The following three books are anything but tomes and dry reading. While they may not be the best or through biographies, they all are very readable.

      • Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Richard Brookhiser

        “Abraham Lincoln grew up in the long shadow of the Founding Fathers. Seeking an intellectual and emotional replacement for his own taciturn father, Lincoln turned to the great men of the founding-Washington, Paine, Jefferson-and their great documents-the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution-for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Out of the power vacuum created by their passing, Lincoln emerged from among his peers as the true inheritor of the Founders' mantle, bringing their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery.

        In Founders' Son, celebrated historian Richard Brookhiser presents a compelling new biography of Abraham Lincoln that highlights his lifelong struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers. Following Lincoln from his humble origins in Kentucky to his assassination in Washington, D.C., Brookhiser shows us every side of the man: laborer, lawyer, congressman, president; storyteller, wit, lover of ribald jokes; depressive, poet, friend, visionary. And he shows that despite his many roles and his varied life, Lincoln returned time and time again to the Founders. They were rhetorical and political touchstones, the basis of his interest in politics, and the lodestars guiding him as he navigated first Illinois politics and then the national scene.

        But their legacy with not sufficient. As the Civil War lengthened and the casualties mounted Lincoln wrestled with one more paternal figure-God the Father-to explain to himself, and to the nation, why ending slavery had come at such a terrible price.

        Bridging the rich and tumultuous period from the founding of the United States to the Civil War, Founders' Son is unlike any Lincoln biography to date. Penetrating in its insight, elegant in its prose, and gripping in its vivid recreation of Lincoln's roving mind at work, this book allows us to think anew about the first hundred years of American history, and shows how we can, like Lincoln, apply the legacy of the Founding Fathers to our times.”

      • The Man from Monticello: An Intimate Life of Thomas Jefferson by Thomas J. Fleming

        “The Man from Monticello: An Intimate Life of Thomas Jefferson, written by Thomas Fleming, is an interesting and informative book concerning America's 3rd President. Fleming begins the book detailing Jefferson's budding relationship with Martha Wayles Skelton, whom he eventually marries. Fleming then proceeds to detail the "intimate" history of Jefferson's life, seeking to discover Jefferson the father and scholar rather than the statesman. In this venture Fleming is mostly successful, detailing the agonizing choices concerning family and public duty Jefferson had to make during the Revolutionary War. Fleming equally details the "intimate" side of Jefferson's life during his years as an ambassador, Secretary of State, Vice President, and President. In many ways, it was refreshing to read a biography concerning Jefferson that dealt with his feelings rather than his actions during his momentous life. Perhaps the greatest section from the Man from Monticello concerned Jefferson's final years. It was interesting to see Jefferson either live out his ideals or at least attempt to do so.”
        - Reviewed by Appomattox in Goodreads

      • The Man Who Dared the Lightning: A New Look at Benjamin Franklin by Thomas J. Fleming

        “I have a whole new appreciation for Benjamin Franklin. This really takes up where his "Autobiography" leaves off. Fleming takes you to England and France to see all that Franklin did as the ambassador of, first, reconciliation, then independence, for the American colonies. Loved or hated by his fellow Americans, depending on who was talking about him, he put his all on the line for his country. Most heart-breaking was his estrangement from his son, William, and the rift between himself and his grandson. Subtle and sophisticated, he was misunderstood even by many of his fellow "founding fathers." Franklin was a complex, witty, clever, multi-faceted man, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.”
        - Reviewed by
        Kathy in Goodreads

        “For the first time I have a true understanding of the passion behind the American Revolution. Fleming organized the book in such a methodical way that the history truly, "comes alive". As you read, you feel the building tension and personal turmoil that turned simple merchants, farmers, and tradesmen into Revolutionaries. This is a thoroughly satisfying read.”

        - Reviewed by
        Paula Ramsay in Goodreads

      07/01/20 Science Topics II

      Science and Mathematics are a foundation for the advancement of humankind. Understanding this foundation and the background of the most influential scientists and mathematicians will assist you in understanding other science and math topics and subjects whenever or wherever you may encounter them. The following three books provide this foundational understanding.

      • A Short History of Nearly Everything (Special Illustrated Edition) by Bill Bryson

        “In A Short History of Nearly Everything, the bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body, confronts his greatest challenge yet: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as his territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. The result is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it.

        Now, in this handsome new edition, Bill Bryson’s words are supplemented by full-color artwork that explains in visual terms the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study. Eloquently and entertainingly described, as well as richly illustrated, science has never been more involving or entertaining.

      • The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present by John Simmons

        An illustrated survey designed for the general reader presents vivid biographical sketches of history's greatest scientific thinkers, ranked in order of influence, including the historical and scientific context of their discoveries.

      • Remarkable Mathematicians from Euler to von Neumann by Ioan James

        Ioan James introduces and profiles sixty mathematicians from the era when mathematics was freed from its classical origins to develop into its modern form. The subjects, all born between 1700 and 1910, come from a wide range of countries, and all made important contributions to mathematics, through their ideas, their teaching, and their influence. James emphasizes their varied life stories, not the details of their mathematical achievements. The book is organized chronologically into ten chapters, each of which contains biographical sketches of six mathematicians. The men and women James has chosen to portray are representative of the history of mathematics, such that their stories, when read in sequence, convey in human terms something of the way in which mathematics developed. Ioan James is a professor at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford.”

      06/01/20  Freedom and Liberty

      The modern concept of Freedom and Liberty are relatively new in the history of humankind. Throughout human history, most people lived under some form of rulership that had no respect for liberty and freedom. These three books provide a history of how the modern concept of Freedom and Liberty came about.

      • Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World by Daniel Hannan

        “British politician Daniel Hannan's Inventing Freedom is an ambitious account of the historical origin and spread of the principles that have made America great, and their role in creating a sphere of economic and political liberty that is as crucial as it is imperiled.

        According to Hannan, the ideas and institutions we consider essential to maintaining and preserving our freedoms—individual rights, private property, the rule of law, and the institutions of representative government—are the legacy of a very specific tradition that was born in England and that we Americans, along with other former British colonies, inherited.

        By the tenth century, England was a nation-state whose people were already starting to define themselves with reference to inherited common-law rights. The story of liberty is the story of how that model triumphed. How it was enshrined in a series of landmark victories—the Magna Carta, the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, the U.S. Constitution—and how it came to defeat every international rival.

        Today we see those ideas abandoned and scorned in the places where they once went unchallenged. Inventing Freedom is a chronicle of the success of Anglosphere exceptionalism. And it is offered at a time that may turn out to be the end of the age of political freedom.”

      • The Cousins' War by Kevin Phillips

        “The question at the heart of The Cousins' Wars is this: How did Anglo-America evolve over a mere three hundred years from a small Tudor kingdom into a global community with such a hegemonic grip on the world today, while no other European power - Spain, France, Germany, or Russia - did? The answer to this, according to Phillips, lies in a close examination of three internecine English-speaking civil wars -- the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. These wars between cousins functioned as crucial anvils on which various religious, ethnic, and political alliances were hammered out between the English-speaking cousin-nations, setting them on a unique two-track path toward world leadership - one aristocratic and aloof to dominate the imperial nineteenth century and the other more egalitarian and democratic to take over in the twentieth century. They also functioned as unfortunate and deadly cultural crucibles for African Americans, Native Americans, and the Irish. Phillips's analysis shows exactly how these conflicts are inextricably linked and how they seeded each other. He offers often surprising interpretations that cut across the political spectrum - for instance, that the Constitution of the United States, while brilliant in many respects, was also a fatally flawed political compromise that contributed mightily in setting the stage for the final - and the bloodiest - cousins' war: the American Civil War. With the new millennium upon us and triggering widespread assessment of our nation's place in world history, The Cousins' Wars provides just the kind of magisterial sweep and revisionist spark to ignite widespread interest and debate. This grand religious, military, and political epic is the multi-dimensional story of the triumph of Anglo-America.”

      • The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by Bernard Bailyn

        “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, awarded both the Pulitzer and the Bancroft prizes, has become a classic of American historical literature. Hailed at its first appearance as “the most brilliant study of the meaning of the Revolution to appear in a generation,” it was enlarged in a second edition to include the nationwide debate on the ratification of the Constitution, hence exploring not only the Founders’ initial hopes and aspirations but also their struggle to implement their ideas in constructing the national government.

        Now, in a new preface, Bernard Bailyn reconsiders salient features of the book and isolates the Founders’ profound concern with power. In pamphlets, letters, newspapers, and sermons they returned again and again to the problem of the uses and misuses of power―the great benefits of power when gained and used by popular consent and the political and social devastation when acquired by those who seize it by force or other means and use it for their personal benefit.

        This fiftieth anniversary edition will be welcomed by readers familiar with Bailyn’s book, and it will introduce a new generation to a work that remains required reading for anyone seeking to understand the nation’s historical roots.”

      05/01/20 Statistics and Studies

      Statistics and Studies abound in today’s world, and they are often used and misused to create public policy and laws. These three books, readable and understandable by the general public, provide information that can be utilized to understand the proper uses of Statists and Studies and be wary and alert for the misuse of Statists and Studies.

      • Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread From The Data by Charles Wheelan

        “Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’ll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.

        For those who slept through Stats 101, this book is a lifesaver. Wheelan strips away the arcane and technical details and focuses on the underlying intuition that drives statistical analysis. He clarifies key concepts such as inference, correlation, and regression analysis, reveals how biased or careless parties can manipulate or misrepresent data, and shows us how brilliant and creative researchers are exploiting the valuable data from natural experiments to tackle thorny questions.

        And in Wheelan’s trademark style, there’s not a dull page in sight. You’ll encounter clever Schlitz Beer marketers leveraging basic probability, an International Sausage Festival illuminating the tenets of the central limit theorem, and a head-scratching choice from the famous game show Let’s Make a Deal—and you’ll come away with insights each time. With the wit, accessibility, and sheer fun that turned Naked Economics into a bestseller, Wheelan defies the odds yet again by bringing another essential, formerly unglamorous discipline to life.”
        - From Goodreads

      • The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data by David Spiegelhalter

        “In this "important and comprehensive" guide to statistical thinking (New Yorker), discover how data literacy is changing the world and gives you a better understanding of life’s biggest problems. 

        Statistics are everywhere, as integral to science as they are to business, and in the popular media hundreds of times a day. In this age of big data, a basic grasp of statistical literacy is more important than ever if we want to separate the fact from the fiction, the ostentatious embellishments from the raw evidence -- and even more so if we hope to participate in the future, rather than being simple bystanders.

        In The Art of Statistics, world-renowned statistician David Spiegelhalter shows readers how to derive knowledge from raw data by focusing on the concepts and connections behind the math. Drawing on real world examples to introduce complex issues, he shows us how statistics can help us determine the luckiest passenger on the Titanic, whether a notorious serial killer could have been caught earlier, and if screening for ovarian cancer is beneficial. The Art of Statistics not only shows us how mathematicians have used statistical science to solve these problems -- it teaches us how we too can think like statisticians. We learn how to clarify our questions, assumptions, and expectations when approaching a problem, and -- perhaps even more importantly -- we learn how to responsibly interpret the answers we receive.

        Combining the incomparable insight of an expert with the playful enthusiasm of an aficionado, The Art of Statistics is the definitive guide to stats that every modern person needs.”

      • Studies Show: A Popular Guide to Understanding Scientific Studies by John H. Fennick

        “If you're not sure what to make of all the claims and counterclaims, this new book will help cut through the conflicting reports and contradictory findings.

        We are bombarded daily with media reports of startling new findings from "just released" studies often in major, authoritative publications on consumer products, medications, foods, alcohol, safety devices, social behavior, public policy, and much more. The decisions of millions of consumers, professionals, and government agencies can be influenced by just one study.

        Light, humorous, and entertaining, Studies Show reviews sample studies to expose their traps and pitfalls. In plain English, statistics analyst John H. Fennick discusses the methods of good and bad studies to explain how scientific results can differ sometimes radically. Fennick shows that when armed with common sense and critical intelligence, we can understand almost any study.”

      04/01/20 America's Founding

      The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Bill of Rights are the foundation of our American Ideals and Ideas of Natural Rights and the role of government in society. These three books examine the history and crafting of these three documents that are central to America and American life.

      • American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence by Pauline Maier

        “Pauline Maier shows us the Declaration as both the defining statement of our national identity and the moral standard by which we live as a nation. It is truly "American Scripture," and Maier tells us how it came to be -- from the Declaration's birth in the hard and tortuous struggle by which Americans arrived at Independence to the ways in which, in the nineteenth century, the document itself became sanctified.

        Maier describes the transformation of the Second Continental Congress into a national government, unlike anything that preceded or followed it, and with more authority than the colonists would ever have conceded to the British Parliament; the great difficulty in making the decision for Independence; the influence of Paine's Common Sense, which shifted the terms of debate; and the political maneuvers that allowed Congress to make the momentous decision.

        In Maier's hands, the Declaration of Independence is brought close to us. She lets us hear the voice of the people as revealed in the other "declarations" of 1776: the local resolutions -- most of which have gone unnoticed over the past two centuries -- that explained, advocated, and justified Independence and undergirded Congress's work. Detective-like, she discloses the origins of key ideas and phrases in the Declaration and unravels the complex story of its drafting and of the group-editing job which angered Thomas Jefferson.

        Maier also reveals what happened to the Declaration after the signing and celebration: how it was largely forgotten and then revived to buttress political arguments of the nineteenth century; and, most important, how Abraham Lincoln ensured its persistence as a living force in American society. Finally, she shows how by the very act of venerating the Declaration as we do -- by holding it as sacrosanct, akin to holy writ -- we may actually be betraying its purpose and its power.”

      • A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution by Carol Berkin

        “We know--and love--the story of the American Revolution, from the Declaration of Independence to Cornwallis's defeat. But the Articles of Confederation, our first government, was a disaster. This crisis caused a group of men to journey to Philadelphia in 1787 to create a lasting and more stable government.

        The lawyers and politicians, some famous and others just ordinary men, had no great expectations for the document they were fashioning. Somehow, in the amalgam of ideas, argument, and compromise, a great thing happened: A constitution and a form of government were created that have served us well. Carol Berkin tells the story of that amazing summer in Philadelphia, and makes you feel as if you were there, listening to the arguments, getting to know the framers, and appreciating the difficult and critical decisions being made.

        Retelling a story that is more hallowed than understood, Berkin brings us into the world of eighteenth-century America and shows us the human side of a great accomplishment.”

      • The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties by Carol Berkin

        “Those who argue that the Bill of Rights reflects the founding fathers’ “original intent” are wrong. The Bill of Rights was actually a brilliant political act executed by James Madison to preserve the Constitution, the federal government, and the latter’s authority over the states. In the skilled hands of award-winning historian Carol Berkin, the story of the founders’ fight over the Bill of Rights comes alive in a drama full of partisanship, clashing egos, and cunning manipulation.

        In 1789, the nation faced a great divide around a question still unanswered today: should broad power and authority reside in the federal government or should it reside in state governments? The Bill of Rights, from protecting religious freedom to the people’s right to bear arms, was a political ploy first and a matter of principle second. The truth of how and why Madison came to devise this plan, the debates it caused in the Congress, and its ultimate success is more engrossing than any of the myths that shroud our national beginnings.

        The debate over the Bill of Rights still continues through many Supreme Court decisions. By pulling back the curtain on the short-sighted and self-interested intentions of the founding fathers, Berkin reveals the anxiety many felt that the new federal government might not survive—and shows that the true “original intent” of the Bill of Rights was simply to oppose the Antifederalists who hoped to diminish the government’s powers. This book is “a highly readable American history lesson that provides a deeper understanding of the Bill of Rights, the fears that generated it, and the miracle of the amendments” (Kirkus Reviews).”

      03/01/20 Science Topics

      The science of where we as human beings originated and where we as human beings are going have always been an interest of mine. Two of the following books are upon our origination, and the other book looks to where we may be going.  All of these books are an enjoyable read.

      • Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell.

        “No recent scientific enterprise has proved as alluring, terrifying, and filled with extravagant promise and frustrating setbacks as artificial intelligence. The award-winning author Melanie Mitchell, a leading computer scientist, now reveals AI’s turbulent history and the recent spate of apparent successes, grand hopes, and emerging fears surrounding it.

        In Artificial Intelligence, Mitchell turns to the most urgent questions concerning AI today: How intelligent―really―are the best AI programs? How do they work? What can they actually do, and when do they fail? How humanlike do we expect them to become, and how soon do we need to worry about them surpassing us? Along the way, she introduces the dominant models of modern AI and machine learning, describing cutting-edge AI programs, their human inventors, and the historical lines of thought underpinning recent achievements. She meets with fellow experts such as Douglas Hofstadter, the cognitive scientist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the modern classic Gödel, Escher, Bach, who explains why he is “terrified” about the future of AI. She explores the profound disconnect between the hype and the actual achievements in AI, providing a clear sense of what the field has accomplished and how much further it has to go.

        Interweaving stories about the science of AI and the people behind it, Artificial Intelligence brims with clear-sighted, captivating, and accessible accounts of the most interesting and provocative modern work in the field, flavored with Mitchell’s humor and personal observations. This frank, lively book is an indispensable guide to understanding today’s AI, its quest for “human-level” intelligence, and its impact on the future for us all.”

      • Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter D. Ward

        “What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to the heavens for companionship.”

      • Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham

        “Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the evolution and world-wide dispersal of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew. Time once spent chewing tough raw food could be sued instead to hunt and to tend camp. Cooking became the basis for pair bonding and marriage, created the household, and even led to a sexual division of labor. In short, once our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Tracing the contemporary implications of our ancestors' diets, Catching Fire sheds new light on how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. A pathbreaking new theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will provoke controversy and fascinate anyone interested in our ancient origins-or in our modern eating habits.”

      02/01/20 Constitutional Guides

      As The Constitution of the United States and its Amendments are the supreme law of America, it is very important for every American to understand the Constitution and its Amendments. This understanding is not as difficult as many believe, as the Constitution was written for “We the People” to understand and adopt as our governing foundation. The Constitution and its Amendments were much read and debated by the general populace at the time of its drafting, adoption, and implementation. Therefore, if our American predecessors could understand the Constitution and its Amendments, we as American descendants should be able to read and understand the Constitution and its Amendments, despite the attempts of many lawyers and legal scholars to utilize “Torturous and Convoluted Reasoning” to bend and shape the Constitution and its Amendments to fit their needs or desires, or their political goals and policy agendas.

      • America's Constitution: A Biography 1st Edition by Akhil Reed Amar

        “In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it.

        We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius.

        Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.”

      • The Constitution: An Introduction by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Luke Paulsen

        “From war powers to health care, freedom of speech to gun ownership, religious liberty to abortion, practically every aspect of American life is shaped by the Constitution. This vital document, along with its history of political and judicial interpretation, governs our individual lives and the life of our nation. Yet most of us know surprisingly little about the Constitution itself, and are woefully unprepared to think for ourselves about recent developments in its long and storied history.

        The Constitution: An Introduction is the definitive modern primer on the US Constitution. Michael Stokes Paulsen, one of the nation's most provocative and accomplished scholars of the Constitution, and his son Luke Paulsen, a gifted young writer and lay scholar, have combined to write a lively introduction to the supreme law of the United States, covering the Constitution's history and meaning in clear, accessible terms.

        Beginning with the Constitution's birth in 1787, Paulsen and Paulsen offer a grand tour of its provisions, principles, and interpretation, introducing readers to the characters and controversies that have shaped the Constitution in the 200-plus years since its creation. Along the way, the authors provide correctives to the shallow myths and partial truths that pervade so much popular treatment of the Constitution, from school textbooks to media accounts of today's controversies, and offer powerful insights into the Constitution's true meaning.

        A lucid and engaging guide, The Constitution: An Introduction provides readers with the tools to think critically and independently about constitutional issues -- a skill that is ever more essential to the continued flourishing of American democracy.”

      • The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: Fully Revised Second Edition by David F. Forte, Matthew Spalding, et al

        “A landmark work of more than one hundred scholars, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is a unique line-by-line analysis explaining every clause of America's founding charter and its contemporary meaning.

        In this fully revised second edition, leading scholars in law, history, and public policy offer more than two hundred updated and incisive essays on every clause of the Constitution.

        From the stirring words of the Preamble to the Twenty-seventh Amendment, you will gain new insights into the ideas that made America, important debates that continue from our Founding, and the Constitution's true meaning for our nation.”

      01/01/20 Science Critique

      People are too often accepting of ‘Science” as they are insufficiently knowledgeable about science. As science is not a be-all or end-all of knowledge, we should be aware of the limits of science when assessing science. The following three books will assist you in understanding the limits of science.

      • Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray by Sabine Hossenfelder

        “Whether pondering black holes or predicting discoveries at CERN, physicists believe the best theories are beautiful, natural, and elegant, and this standard separates popular theories from disposable ones. This is why, Sabine Hossenfelder argues, we have not seen a major breakthrough in the foundations of physics for more than four decades.

        The belief in beauty has become so dogmatic that it now conflicts with scientific objectivity: observation has been unable to confirm mindboggling theories, like supersymmetry or grand unification, invented by physicists based on aesthetic criteria. Worse, these "too good to not be true" theories are actually untestable and they have left the field in a cul-de-sac. To escape, physicists must rethink their methods. Only by embracing reality as it is can science discover the truth.”

      • The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us by Noson S. Yanofsky

        “Many books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes.

        Yanofsky describes simple tasks that would take computers trillions of centuries to complete and other problems that computers can never solve; perfectly formed English sentences that make no sense; different levels of infinity; the bizarre world of the quantum; the relevance of relativity theory; the causes of chaos theory; math problems that cannot be solved by normal means; and statements that are true but cannot be proven. He explains the limitations of our intuitions about the world—our ideas about space, time, and motion, and the complex relationship between the knower and the known.

        Moving from the concrete to the abstract, from problems of everyday language to straightforward philosophical questions to the formalities of physics and mathematics, Yanofsky demonstrates a myriad of unsolvable problems and paradoxes. Exploring the various limitations of our knowledge, he shows that many of these limitations have a similar pattern and that by investigating these patterns, we can better understand the structure and limitations of reason itself. Yanofsky even attempts to look beyond the borders of reason to see what, if anything, is out there.”

      • The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake by Dr. Steven Novella (Author), Bob Novella Cara Santa Maria Jay Novella Evan Bernstein

        “It is intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret, and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google).

        Luckily, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe is your map through this maze of modern life. Here Dr. Steven Novella-along with Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein-will explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies, and conspiracy theories-from anti-vaccines to homeopathy, UFO sightings to N- rays. You'll learn the difference between science and pseudoscience, essential critical thinking skills, ways to discuss conspiracy theories with that crazy co- worker of yours, and how to combat sloppy reasoning, bad arguments, and superstitious thinking.

        So are you ready to join them on an epic scientific quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to setting foot on the moon? (Yes, we really did that.) DON'T PANIC! With The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, we can do this together.

        "Thorough, informative, and enlightening, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe inoculates you against the frailties and shortcomings of human cognition. If this book does not become required reading for us all, we may well see modern civilization unravel before our eyes." -- Neil deGrasse Tyson

        "In this age of real and fake information, your ability to reason, to think in scientifically skeptical fashion, is the most important skill you can have. Read The Skeptics' Guide Universe; get better at reasoning. And if this claim about the importance of reason is wrong, The Skeptics' Guide will help you figure that out, too." -- Bill Nye”

      12/01/19 American History

      American history is also Black American history. Two of the following books are biographies of three famous Black-Americans. The other book is the story of one slave attempting to gain her freedom and one famous American attempt to re-enslave her. All three books provide a personal understanding of the impact of slavery on Black Americans of those who endure slavery.

      • Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

        “When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary and eight slaves, including Ona Judge, about whom little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

        Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

        At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

        With impeccable research, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.”

      • Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man by Timothy Sandefur

        “Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass rose to become one of the nation's foremost intellectuals―a statesman, author, lecturer, and scholar who helped lead the fight against slavery and racial oppression. Unlike other leading abolitionists, however, Douglass embraced the U.S. Constitution, insisting that it was an essentially anti-slavery document and that its guarantees for individual rights belonged to all Americans, of whatever race.

        As the nation pauses to remember Douglass on his bicentennial, Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man gives us an insightful glimpse into the mind of one of America's greatest thinkers.”

      • The Souls of Black Folk, Up From Slavery: Two Visions, One Mission by W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T Washington

        “W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington both were instrumental in attempting to improve the social, political, and economic situation of African Americans around the turn of the century. Although they differed in how and when social, political, and economic improvement would occur, they both had a similar mission, Black Dignity. While African Americans were given a second class status in the United States, both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois wanted to see the conditions for Black people improved greatly. In this text, we can read and appreciate both of these great men's views on social improvements for the race.”