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”.

06/01/22 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
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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
    “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 three articles on this topic:

  • The Liberal Mindset – This article is the author's selections from the book that highlight the major topics of the book.
  • The Liberal Manifesto Major Principles - The section “The Liberal Manifesto: Major Principles” in Chapter 35 examines the 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 - Chapter 48, ‘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.

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:

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 Databy 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.”