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January 22, 2012

Sunday Book Thread

I have a rule: with very few exceptions, I don't read political memoirs, celebrity biographies, diet books, self-help books, and topical "ripped from the headlines" books. I find most books of this kind to be terribly shallow, badly-written, mundane, condescending, and unsubtle.

When Mark Levin published Liberty and Tyranny I mentally put it in this class of book, because as a talk-show host, I find Levin's hectoring "righteous umbrage" shtick to be irritating, and I figured that his book would be the same kind of thing. But at length I decided to dip into it and was surprised to find it a good rabble-rouser of a political tract -- unsubtle, yes, but that was implicit in the "manifesto" title. If it wasn't exactly up to Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" as a political pamphlet, it was as close as we can get in these modern times.

So when I heard that Levin was publishing a follow-up volume entitled Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, I decided to give it a shot as well. This latest book attemps to explain modern Liberalism by drawing on the Utopian visions of philosophers who influenced them -- Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx. He attempts to show how a drive for a utiopian society almost always leads to statism and ultimately tryanny, because "utopian" ideals require the suppression of individual liberty. Then Levin draws on Locke, Montesquieu, and de Toqueville to show how the Founders of America drew on a different philosophical strain -- that of individualism, personal liberty, and moral/ethical will -- as the guiding light of the Republic, and that it is this ethos that has given America the success it has had.

As a political pamphlet and conservative thumbnail guide to political philosophy, I expect Levin's newest book to be useful. However, he's going to have a hard time doing either side of his argument justice given how short his book is. (I'm reading Paul Rahe's Republics Ancient and Modern right now, which is a thorough treatment of the same subject that Levin is writing about, and it musters more than a thousand pages, plus appendices and end-notes.) I liked Levin's Liberty and Tyranny for being a good red-blooded political advocation tract in the old style, and I expect to like the new book in the same way: it won't convert anyone, but it may give more thoughtful conservatives some valuable food for thought as well as ammunition for argument. It may also provide some insight as to why modern conservatism and liberalism have evolved as they have in America. I don't expect to get much depth or subtlety or historical context, but for that I have Rahe's magisterial book.


And now for the AoS HQ Moron book recommendations! If you are a writer, or have a friend or SO who is a writer and would like a mention in this space, send a message to aoshqbookthread AT gmail DOT com. (If you buy your books from Amazon, use the special AoS HQ storefront linked over in the right sidebar: Ace gets a little taste of every transaction at no cost to you. But you may suggest a book from any seller as long as they are legit; I only use Amazon because that's my own preference. Don't feel obligated to do likewise if you prefer another vendor.)

Luke Stibbs sends a recommendation for a fantasy novel called The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

For you card-playing Morons, DoverPro sends a link to his Texas Holdem book Texas Hold'em Dynamic Point Count Super Strategy.

Tony sends a link to The Pastures of Heaven by D. E. Starns.

Christopher Taylor sends a link to his fantasy novel Old Habits.

Vernon Baker links to his novel Slow Boat to Purgatory.

Steve D. Poling sends his novel The Aristotelian (The Secret Archives of the Diogenes Club).

Benjamin Durbin sends his book Trailblazer: New Horizons in 3.5 Roleplaying. (If you're a D&D player, this is probably a good book to pick up!)

Jeffrey Johnstone sends a link to his book Professional Bull Riders: The Official Guide to the Toughest Sport on Earth.

E. R. White Jr. sends a link to his detective novel Scrambled Hard-Boiled.

Kevin J. Ryan sends his book Radical Eye for the Infidel Guy: Inside the Strange World of Militant Islam.

DavidInLilly sends a book written by his son Patrick: A Poet's Faith.

Ann Banduhn sends a link to her book that ought to appeal to the collectors among us: Rosenthal Porcelain Figurines.

Suzy Morris sends a link to all her children's books in Amazon Kindle format.

Kortnee Bryant sends a link to a collection with a story she wrote called Stained Glass Forest.

David Acord sends two books he's written: What Would Lincoln Do?: Lincoln's Most Inspired Solutions to Challenging Problems and Difficult Situations and Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes: Life Lessons from the Master Detective.

Matt Powell sends his book The Essentials of the Christian Religion.

Finally, Celia Hayes (whom some of you may remember from Sgt. Stryker's Daily Brief as "Sgt. Mom") sends a link to To Truckee's Trail and Adelsverein: The Complete Trilogy.

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posted by Monty at 09:51 AM

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