The Work of Peggy Noonan

Review: Peggy Noonan, ‘The Time of our Lives’

Peggy NoonanEvident in every speech, column, news report, or lecture in Peggy Noonan’s collection, The Time of Our Lives, is the author’s respect for the virtue of work, and for meaningful work, at that. This makes sense: the book is a compilation of her lifetime’s work, a meaningful effort by any measurement.

Marxism on Campus

Review: Roger Scruton, ‘Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left’

Karl MarxFriends of the democracy, inclusive societies, and free speech can be forgiven for remembering the 1980s with fondness. Reagan and Thatcher and John Paul II ruled the day, brought communism to its knees, and asserted the excellence of the West. Yet that decade also witnessed the continuing ascendancy of a radical form of Marxism on university campuses in America and Great Britain. Although Allan Bloom’s 1987 Closing of the American Mind acted as a flag around which to rally in the culture war over higher education, it was not enough to stop, or even really slow a campus takeover that today enjoys great political influence.

Chill Out

Review: Tom Jackson, ‘Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again’

refrigeratorThere is a history of humankind, a deep account of the rising and falling of human cultures, to be written around the simple fact that food rots. Goes bad. Sours and spoils. It’s one of those problems so deep in human history and so intrinsic to human experience that, admittedly, we hardly notice it anymore. But from the days of Cain (who was, you remember, both the first murderer and the first city builder in the Bible) all the way down to our own time, the problem of keeping food fresh has been a ceaseless motor of culture—like the noise of the kitchen refrigerator, humming in the background.

Verse Riddles

Review: Saint Aldhelm’s Riddles, translated by A. M. Juster

Illuminated Manuscript Wikimedia CommonsSaint Aldhelm was a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon monk, member of the Wessex nobility, and one of the most innovative Latin poets of Late Antiquity. His most famous works are Carmen rhythmicum, a two-hundred line octosyllabic poem about a trip during a strong storm that blew the roof off a church, and Epistula ad Acircium, a collection of two essays on prosody, 100 verse riddles (the Aenigmata), and commentary on the number seven.