No Longer Just

Eric Holder

In the 1966 film A Man For All Seasons, which depicts Sir Thomas More’s steadfast disapproval of King Henry VIII’s marital infidelities, More stirringly defends the rule of law. Rebutting his son-in-law, who says he would hypothetically “cut down every law in England” to find the devil, More asks, “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?”

Happiness for Scrooges

Review: ‘A Private History of Happiness’ by George Myerson

Happiness has been tackled by the greats—Plato and Aristotle—but also by, and more frequently, the not-so greats—see the self-help section.

Talking ‘Vodka’ With Vic Matus

A refreshing and slightly intoxicating interview with the author of ‘Vodka’
J. Nilsson Photography Flickr

As I sat down for lunch at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab in downtown D.C., with my friend Vic Matus to discuss his new book, there was little question about what would accompany our meal.

We were there to talk vodka and Vic’s new book, Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America. We figured we might as well get some first-hand experience with the subject matter.

REVIEW: ‘What Good is Grand Strategy?’ By Hal Brands

A fascinating analysis of presidential strategy
Presidents Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush / AP

“Reduced to its essence, grand strategy is the intellectual architecture that lends structure to foreign policy; it is the logic that helps states navigate a complex and dangerous world.”

With President Obama’s foreign policy in disarray, Hal Brands’ study of strategy is well timed. Considering the experiences of four presidents—Truman, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush—Brands seeks to “offer some tentative thoughts on the utility of grand strategy for American officials.”

‘The Weed Agency’ Review

Jim Geraghty’s fictional debut is worth a read

In the wake of the 2012 election, as conservatives sought a return to electoral success, Jim Geraghty lightly chastised them. “Hey, remember how everybody on the right decided after the excruciating debacle of the 2012 election, we had to focus on the culture?” he asked in the Feb.15, 2013, edition of the Morning Jolt, his daily morning political newsletter. “It’s mid-February, so about three and a half months since this discussion began. Anyone seen any new cultural offerings from the Right?”

Vladimir Jabotinsky Revisited

“Jabotinsky: A Life” by Hillel Halkin
Vladimir Jabotinsky

“If I could raise any of the great figures of Zionist history from the dead for an hour’s conversation, I would choose Jabotinsky,” writes Hillel Halkin in his new book Jabotinsky: A Life.

The merit of this gracefully written and thoughtful book is that Halkin makes you understand why. Jabotinsky was easily the most talented, versatile, and farseeing of Zionist leaders. Add to this his gregarious, witty, and engaging personality, and it’s difficult not to like Jabotinsky as much as one admires him. As Jabotinsky’s friend and biographer Shmuel Katz once told this writer, “I simply couldn’t find fault in him, and, believe me, I tried.”

The God of Liberalism

Review: ‘Inventing the Individual,’ by Larry Siedentop
Rembrandt van Rijn, The Apostle Paul, 1957 / National Gallery of Ary

In its thousands of pages, Obamacare contains the heart of the progressive vision for how society should work. A central premise of Obamacare is that everybody should have access to healthcare regardless of income or personal circumstances. Individuals do not have to rely on others to gain access to a basic life necessity; the government supplies what they need. Individuals have both the autonomy that comes from being independent from other people and the security of the government-provided benefit.

The Devil and Jim Gant

Review: ‘American Spartan’ by Ann Scott Tyson
Special Forces Maj. Jim Gant / AP

With such an extensive list of charges against him, what had Jim Gant done to be so popular with his own soldiers, and with the Afghans among whom he lived?

He had won.

Guard of Honor

Review: ‘The Marines Take Anbar’ by Richard H. Shultz Jr.
A U.S. marine observe children play in Ramadi / AP

“A mainstay among the Corps traditions is the premium placed on learning as a core competency.”

If there is one lesson to be taken from Richard Shultz’s study of Marine Corps operations in Iraq (2003-2008), it’s that intellectual agility is a necessity of warfare.

In The Marines Take Anbar, we witness a 21st century “war amongst the people,” a struggle between insurgents and counter-insurgents. And while Shultz’s topic is counter-insurgency (COIN), the author always reminds us that COIN is war: brutal, bloody, and messy.

Life of Begin

Review: ‘Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul’ by Daniel Gordis
Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin / AP

Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul is a pleasure to read. The author, Daniel Gordis, a fellow at Jerusalem’s Shalem College, has a gift for clearly summarizing complex events, including key incidents about which much nonsense has been written.

Begin was born in the Polish town of Brisk in 1913. His most important early influence was his father Ze’ev Dov Begin, a deeply religious man who helped organize Jewish self-defense.