Here are books I recommend that political junkies read while vacationing:
“The Conservative Sensibility” by George Will: The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has written a splendid magnum opus on the meaning of American conservatism.
In his book, Will, who earned a Ph.D in political philosophy from Princeton, stresses that conservatism for him is about conserving the wisdom of the nation’s founders. “This book,” he writes, “is my attempt [to show] the continuing pertinence of the founding principles, and by tracing many of our myriad discontents to departures from these principles.”
For the founders there are pre-existing natural rights by which all man-made rules must be measured. Hence, “the case for limited government,” Will observes, “is grounded in the empirical evidence that human beings have something in common – human nature – but are nevertheless incorrigibly different in capabilities and aspirations.” Because there is universal human nature, the founders held there “can be universal principles of political organization and action.”
Will calls on conservatives to provide the leadership to temper “government hubris and overreach” and to persuade Americans that “their political appetites are large parts of the problem.”
He concedes the task will be difficult because restoring “the dignity of constitutional government depends on restraints of a sort that do not come easily to conservatives or any other Americans.” But, Will concludes, the restraints requisite for limited government “will come only from thoughtful reverence from the nation’s founding, a reverence that not only honors the memory of the founders but is conscientious in understanding their principles.”
“War and Peace: F.D.R.’s Final Odyssey, D-Day to Yalta 1943-1945” by Nigel Hamilton: To mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Hamilton brought out the third volume of his trilogy on President Franklin D. Roosevelt as our nation’s commander-in-chief.
Hamilton explains how the cunning Roosevelt used all his political skills to overcome British opposition, led by Winston Churchill, to landing Allied forces in France.
Fearing World War I-like trench warfare that could lead to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of troops, Churchill and his generals pulled every trick in the book to shelve the invasion.
This led to military sideshows in the Mediterranean and one of the greatest disasters of the war, the Battle of Anzio. That amphibious invasion, which Hamilton reveals was a Churchill idea, sustained 44,000 causalities. The objective to liberate Rome in a matter of weeks, took almost six months.
Using recently released documents, Hamilton proves that FDR was the true architect of the Allies’ victory in Europe.
“Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court” by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino: The authors do an incredible job of giving a blow-by-blow description of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination battle.
The book, based on interviews with more than 100 people who were major players during the ordeal, exposes the lies, bombastic rhetoric, and slanderous accusations that Kavanaugh and his family had to endure.
“Justice on Trial” is a first-rate, well-sourced, insiders’ account of a ruthless campaign of personal destruction that culminated in Kavanaugh’s impassioned defense of his character and his decades of government service.
“Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse” by Timothy Carney: To understand Trump voters in fly-over America, journalist Tim Carney, an editor at the Washington Examiner, took to his automobile and traveled through the rust belt regions meeting with “alienated” citizens.
What he learned was that so many people have come to believe the American Dream is dead because their communities have been crumbling all around them. The root of the problem, Carney concluded, is not economic but social.
Trump country “is the place where hope is low and where the good life appears out of reach.” They are people who live in communities that “have seen declines in marriage, church attendance and volunteer work.”
And it will take more than job training programs, entitlement spending or corporate tax cuts to fix these places.
To understand what is driving the nation’s growing divisions and how to restore our social fabric read “Alienated America.”
Happy vacation reading!