August 14, 2011

Review Corner

<bullwinkle voice>Welcome, Poetry Lovers...</bullwinkle voice>

First up is a proper review corner for Thomas Woods's 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. Brother nb linked to Woods a few weeks ago and we discussed his appearance on Stossel.

I ended up grabbing his book and I am certain that any ThreeSourcer would dig it mightily. Woods strips away the PC version of American History, trashing shibboleths like the environmentalism of indigenous peoples, FDR's economic chops, radicalism of nullification and states rights, the importance of unions and progressive legislation to improve working conditions, &c.

I guess my favorite thing about it is that I was challenged from the wingnut side. Woods goes A LOT farther than I would on some of his answers. To give an example I must offer a painfully uncontextual paraphrase: Against the Federalization that accompanied the Civil War, the destruction of States Rights and creation of a modern nation state are presented as culpable for the 20th Century wars. Slavery was not only not the cause of what Brother Keith calls "The War of Northern Aggression," it seems to be too low on the list to bear inclusion, based on Lincoln's lack of dedication to emancipation and multiple Northern examples of racism and acceptance.

Yet, these are perfect examples of the value of the book. Woods presents a "book of questions." While I might quibble with some answers, the author is dead-on that these questions are not -- cannot -- be asked in a history class today. I thought of the Simpsons episode: Apu is getting his citizenship, and taking a test. The official asks the cause of the Civil War. Our favorite accented Slushee® purveyor launches into a nuanced disquisition of the place of tariffs in an agrarian economy versus the industrialized North -- the tester interrupts and says "Just say 'Slavery!'"

Four stars fer sure.

Next, a premature, advance review corner, for what I'm guessing is a future five star. I was not going to read David Mamet's The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture also discussed on these pages. It's a polemic, thoughts me, I'd rather read history or economics or something.

A "Kindle Sample" changed my tune -- I am enthralled at his eloquence, devotion to reason, and the scope of his reading. I'm going to tease the choir with the introduction to Chapter 8, The Red Sea:

There is another possible interpretation of the parting of the sea by Moses.

Rather than intervening to create a path in a unitary substance, it could be said that he demonstrated that freedom lay in the ability to see distinctions; that is, that life could be seen as divisible into good and evil; moral and immoral; sacred and profane; permitted and forbidden--that the seemingly unitary "sea" of human behavior and ambition could actually be divided. A slave is not permitted to make these distinctions. All of his behavior is circumscribed by the will of his master. The necessity of making distinctions is the essence of freedom, where one not only can but must choose.

This revelation of the long-denied, long-lost necessity was, to the escaping Jews, something of a miracle, inspiring awe, fear, and an attendant shame--shame that they had submitted to enslavement, and shame that they had forgotten the essence of freedom so completely that its possibility seemed to them supernatural. Moses told the Jews to look back at the pursuing army, and said, "Those Egyptians you see today you will never see again"-- that is, they would be freed from not only the fact but the shame of slavery as soon as they recognized in themselves the possibility of choice

I'd say it is purdy good...

[Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (Kindle Locations 735-744). Sentinel. Kindle Edition.]

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at August 14, 2011 8:06 PM

Parting of the Red Sea = Red Pill/Blue Pill. I like it.

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2011 3:00 PM

Just added to my kindle wish list...will plunge in right after I finish A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, and Steyn's "After America". In that order.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 19, 2011 9:27 AM | What do you think? [2]