Navigating the myriad complexities and cross currents of U.S.-Saudi relations since the end of World War II is a daunting process even for experienced foreign policy analysts. That journey is made easier by Bruce Riedel’s masterful new book, Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR. Currently a senior member at the Brookings Institution, Riedel brings decades of government experience from both the policy and intelligence sides to his work. Along the way he has dealt with countless Saudi and U.S. officials with direct responsibility for the bilateral relationship.
Jordan Peterson is fast emerging as something like the C.S. Lewis of our time. More than half a century on, he seeks to answer many of the same questions with like pastoral care, and his influence and audience, while not now as general as Lewis’s was in 1947 when he appeared on the cover of Time, is strikingly similar—people frightened by the events and cultural shifts of their time.
I have met Bryan Caplan, libertarian extraordinaire and professor of economics at George Mason University, exactly once. I was an intern; he, a speaker to my intern class. Afterwards, at lunch, I found myself in a 45-minute argument with the good professor, which ended with his insistence that the American Revolution was unjustifiable on utilitarian grounds.
All the way back in its first season, Saturday Night Live ran a parody of Star Trek. It was nothing really. Just a quick, one-off sketch. Still, the comedy show managed a little fond mockery of the hokey sets in the older science-fiction series, poked a little fun at the actors (especially William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy) who had chewed their way through the scenery of distant planets, and tweaked NBC for canceling Star Trek—an inside joke, since NBC was also hosting Saturday Night Live, which was at risk of its own cancellation in those early days.
“Seventy years after the Holocaust, which saw Nazi Germany propaganda turn the entire Jewish people into a monster threatening the world, a new industry of lies has arisen. … But this time it is not the goose-stepping Nazis pushing the lies. It is liberal-minded academics, intellectuals, and human rights activists.”
Americans will never tire of comparing America to Rome. Such comparisons are carved in stone in the foundations and facades of our capital, and only slightly more subtly in the construction of our country. Which is perhaps unfortunate for a scholar such as Kathryn Tempest, senior lecturer in Latin literature and Roman history at the University of Roehampton in London. What in England can be read rightly as an impressive and accessible work of academic biography, must here seem a mirror to our strange and troubled times. Such is the fate of Tempest’s excellent Brutus: The Noble Conspirator.
America’s multi-decade crime decline, according to Uneasy Peace author Patrick Sharkey, was not caused by Roe v. Wade or leaded gasoline bans, but by civil society. Sharkey’s new book is an exploration of how the New York University sociologist thinks the crime decline happened, and how it can be preserved. But his solution, while more inspired than some, suffers ultimately from an infection of liberalism that threatens the very civil society he extols in the first place.