Churchill for President

Review of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume Three: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by William Manchester and Paul ReidThe three volumes of William Manchester and Paul Reid’s biography of Winston Churchill run to several thousand pages. The trilogy defines words like “magisterial” and “epic,” encompassing the two greatest wars in history, the decline and fall of the British Empire, the dawn of the Cold War, the birth of the airplane, submarine, tank, and nuclear bomb, and much … [Read more...]

Winston Churchill’s Improbable Life

Review of The Last Lion, Volume 1 by William ManchesterThe life of Winston Churchill is enough to make one believe in Providence. His life was so charmed, so unlikely, yet, ultimately, so necessary for the survival of a just and free world that the easiest explanation is that the Higher Power custom-made him for the purpose.  Churchill, one suspects, would have agreed.  “We are all worms,” goes one of his famous Churchillian aphorisms, “but I do believe I am a glow worm.”William Mancheste … [Read more...]

George F. Kennan: Biography of a Bureaucrat

Review of George F. Kennan:  An American Life, by John Lewis GaddisMagisterial, thousand-page, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies are usually reserved for presidents, emperors, generals, and saints.  With John Lewis Gaddis’ definitive  George F. Kennan:  An American Life, the epic treatment is given to a 20th Century American bureaucrat.  Who was George Kennan, and why does he deserve an exhaustive work by a renowned historian?Kennan was the intellectual father of “containment,” the strat … [Read more...]

Mere Lewis

Review of C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrathBy COYLE NEALWriting biographies is hard work. Sometimes, there just isn't a lot of information about an individual—even if that individual is a very important historical figure. Sometimes there's so much information that sifting through everything to discover what is important can seem to be more trouble than it's worth (or can result in an interminably long series of books). Add to that the difficulty of transforming the events and facts o … [Read more...]

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Anti-Christian Screed (The Swerve)

Review of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen GreenblattBy PAUL D. MILLEROn one level, The Swerve is the biography of a minor figure in Renaissance Florence (Poggio Bracciolini) and an entertaining story of how he recovered a lost work of Roman poetry (Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things). This part of The Swerve is well-written and --researched and surprisingly gripping. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the technology of reading—papyrus versus vellum, scroll versus … [Read more...]

In Which Arius Receives a Stocking Full of Coal and a Knuckle Sandwich

Review of The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus by Adam C. EnglishBy ALEXIS NEALMy idea of Santa Claus is based on an amalgamation of Disney specials, Norman Rockwell paintings, and the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore. I know what every kid knows—that Santa looks vaguely like Edmund Gwenn. But I didn’t know a blessed thing about who he was before he was Santa Claus. Fortunately, Adam C. English was aware of my plight (shared by many Americans), and so he wrote The Saint Who Would Be Sant … [Read more...]

A Great Biography for a Great Life

Review of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund MorrisBy KENDRICK KUOTeddy Roosevelt has been in the news recently. Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed discussing the persistent failure of Teddy to win the Nationals' presidents race that occurs every baseball game. There was a public outcry. Even Edmund Morris contributed to that article. And to the joy of all Nats fans, Teddy finally won on October 3rd!The definitive biography of Theodore Roosevelt is a trilogy penned … [Read more...]

What Lincoln Can Teach the Tea Party

Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric FonerBy PAUL D. MILLERAbraham Lincoln was a racist who believed Africans were intellectually inferior to whites and should not have equal political rights with their racial superiors. He opposed immediate abolition and favored only gradual emancipation, coupled with compensation for slave owners deprived of their property, and followed by the deportation of ex-slaves back to Africa, or colonized in South America. His … [Read more...]

What does power reveal? Caro answers.

Review of The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Vol. 1, 2, 3) by Robert A. CaroNOTE: The fourth volume will be reviewed in a future post.By KENDRICK KUOWhen The Passage of Power hit the shelves in May this year, every major literary magazine, political blog, and newspaper with an opinion column, felt obligated to comment. Everyone anticipated this fourth installation to be the grand finale of Robert A. Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson, but Alfred Knopf surprised us all when it announced, weeks b … [Read more...]