Category Archives: Books

What We Are Reading

Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity By Samuel P. Huntington Book Review

Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity is an interesting read on America’s identity and the changes that have occurred over time.  It looks at the importance Americans attribute to their national identity and what Americans think they have in common and what distinguishes them from other peoples.

The book deals with the topic of national identity and immigration.   Huntington gives a history of the American identity and how it has varied over time.  He punctures some national myths.  One myth is we are “a nation of immigrants”.  America is a nation that was founded by settlers and was populated by the decedents of those settlers.  Immigrants came later and assimilated into America.  Americans own America and may admit or refuse any outsider on whatever grounds.  He also looks at the threats it faces.

Huntington looks at the recent history of immigration.  From the 60’s immigration is different than the previous waves.  It is continuously high levels.  Previous immigration was low and at times high peaks followed by low waves.  High peaks of immigration retards assimilation and fosters ethnic ghettoes.  The new huge wave of immigration is must less diverse.   Hunting lays out a vast wealth of social science, census, and survey data to support his thesis.

There is a lot more than just immigration.  It is an analysis of the threats that undermine America’s common culture and identity looking at cultural wars of the last 40 years.  One such is the American elites who until the late 2oth century promoted national unity, then in the 1960s and 1970s they “began to promote measures consciously designed to weaken America’s cultural and creedal identity and to strengthen racial, ethnic, cultural, and other subnational identities. These efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history.”

What the deconstructionist promote Huntington examines in detail the changes and the significance to America’s future.

The deconstructionists promoted programs to enhance the status and influence of subnational, racial, ethnic and cultural groups. They encouraged immigrants to maintain their birth country cultures, granted them legal privileges denied to native-born Americans, and denounced the idea of Americanization as un-American. They pushed the re-writing of history syllabi and textbooks so as to refer to the “peoples” of the United States in place of the single people of the Constitution.

They urged supplementing or substituting for national history the history of subnational groups. They downgraded the centrality of English in American life and pushed bilingual education and linguistic diversity. They advocated legal recognition of group rights and racial preferences over the individual rights central to the American Creed. They justified their actions by theories of multiculturalism and the idea that diversity rather than unity or community should be America’s overriding value. The combined effect of these efforts was to promote the deconstruction of the American identity that had been gradually created over three centuries and the ascendance of subnational identities.

The replacement of individual rights with group rights, undermining of equal justice, the erosion of American citizenship, multiculturalism….

Huntington analysis of American culture and identity in historical context is an interesting read about how we got to where we are today and where we are going.

Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity by Samuel P. Huntington is available at Amazon.

The Source: A Novel By James A. Michener

The Source:  A Novel was first published in 1965 and is one of Michener’s finest novels.

The story begins in the 1970s at an archeological dig at the fictional Makor in the Galilee.  Two areas are dug down to the bedrock.  A story is told of the corresponding time in history of the artifacts found.  Each chapter tells a story of the people and time of the artifacts.  It follows one family line with a captivating story of people, artifacts, culture, political issues, and history.  Between each historical tale is a running tale of the archaeological dig and the people working there.  The research is amazing.

The story travels through many civilizations and portrays a history of the Jewish people.  It is stunning in scope and the exploration of culture and history from about 10,000 BC to the mid-1960s is captivating.  The scope is amazingly.

This book is long – very long as it travels through time revealing the history and people of the different societies.  A gripping story of pagans, Hebrews, early Christianity, the Crusades, Romans, Muslims and modern archaeologist that is fascinating.  A great summer read.

The Source: A Novel by James A. Michener is available at Amazon.

Thomas Jefferson And The Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History Book Review

This is a story of a fledgling new nation that did not have much of a budget and saddled with war debt, that was challenged by four Muslim powers in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco,  The rulers had sustained their realms on the booty and ransom extracted from European and latter American merchant ships.

American merchant ships were swarmed by the Barbary pirates and the crew held captive, many remained captive for ten years under cruel conditions.  Negotiation and ransom payments were tried, which the young country could not afford.   The “Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and Tripoli” was signed in 1796, an attempt to appease the enemy.  It did not work.  The alternative was a war to stand up to intimidation and lawlessness.

Before Jefferson assumed office Congress would authorize the forming of a U.S. Navy.  Thomas Jefferson, our third president, decided to take on the Barbary powers in a war, something European powers chose not to do.  A new nation took on Muslim despots and pirates with a mixture of diplomacy enforced by naval forces.

The book begins in1785 when the American merchant ship the Dauphin was intercepted off the coast of Portugal by an Algerian ship.  The crew was captured and shipped to Algiers to spend years in slavery under the Ottomans.

Trek alongside William Eaton and an army of Marines, Navy midshipmen, Arabs, and Bedouins from Alexandria, across the Libyan Desert to Derne to Tripoli.  The first Marine hero was Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon the ‘hero of Derne’.  A well-known phrase in the opening lines of the Marines’ Hymn commemorates this time “the shores of Tripoli.”

Read about Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, the leadership of Edward Preble, Stephen Decatur and many more.  Learn of the fighting prowess of Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon and other men.  From the victory in the Barbary Wars would emerge U. S. forces, sea and land, that could fight as a unit in a war far from home against an enemy.

An action-packed easy to read history that captures the times, diplomacy and politics that led up to the Barbary Wars and the triumphant aftermath.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger is available at Amazon.

Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East By Michael Doran Book Review

During Eisenhower’s presidency Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in Egypt.  Nasser dominated the Middle East during Eisenhower’s presidency.  The gamble was to reduce Nasser’s influence or woo him as an ally against Moscow.

Doran meticulously researched and unravels the events that resulted in the 1956 Suez Crisis.   He looks at Nasser’s increase in power as British power waned in the Middle East.  Nasser’s devious deception of the Eisenhower Administration, especially Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, was to increase his power and remove the British and French from Egypt.  The policy decisions made during the Suez crisis has reverberated for decades in American foreign policy.  The book covers the years from 1951 to 1961.  A well written and researched book with in-depth analysis that is a readable page turner.

Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East is available at Amazon.

Black Rednecks And White Liberals By Thomas Sowell Book Review

Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Dr. Thomas Sowell is a compelling book that will draw you in.  It consists of captivating six essays.  The first essay should be required reading in high schools and colleges.  Sowell does his research, the roots of “redneck culture” originating from the borderlands of Scotland to America was fascinating.

The book contains hard hitting looks at race, class, and history.   The impact different ways of thinking have on different groups of people,  the universal hatred of middle men minorities (Jews, ),  a history of Germany and the impact of Nazism and attitudes toward the German people, a history of slavery from the brutality of the white slave of Barbary to the sex slavery primarily under Islam, black education, and history and causation.  An excellent book with Sowell’s research and deep reasoning opens one to a new perspective on the history, cultural differences, long-prevailing assumptions about blacks, about Jews, about Germans, about slavery, and about education, also what factors contribute to prosperity or poverty.  An insightful book and must read.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell is available at Amazon.

Without Warning By Joel C. Rosenberg Book Review

Following The Third Target and The First Hostage, Joel Rosenberg returns with correspondent J.B. Collins telling the president he is wrong in stating ISIS is “on the run” and “winning”, he fears an attack inside the U.S. is imminent. Without Warning picks shortly after The First Hostage.

An intense and gripping story with J. B. Collins
gravely concerned with America and ISIS, he decides to take action himself vowing to go after the terror group leader Abu Kahlif.  Rosenberg builds suspense as Collins gets in over his head and things get worse.  A page turner!

Without Warning: A J.B. Collins Novel by Joel Rosenberg is available at Amazon.

Against Empathy By Paul Bloom Book Review

Psychologist Paul Bloom makes the reasonable argument about the effects of empathy – trying to feel what other people feel, and its negative effects that often results in making the world worse.  Bloom defines terms and lays out a substantive case that empathy is not a vital catalyst for human morality.  That concern and compassion are better, particularly when making moral choices and public policy.

Bloom critiques the features of empathy. One is the spotlight effect that narrows a person’s focus often at the expense of others.  That one does not see all the ramifications of a decision with a narrow focus.

Empathy is a short-term solution, he argues that rational compassion takes a broader view and favors the long-term solution.  Compassion is defined by Bloom as “simply caring for people, wanting them to thrive,” a kindness that is separate from empathy.  Compassion is not perfect but has fewer problems than empathy. He argues connivingly that compassion is a better guide to our everyday moral decisions.  Bloom looks at empathy in diverse situations from intimate relations, violence, war…  Against Empathy is thought provoking.

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion is available at Amazon.

The Future Of Assisted Suicide And Euthanasia By Neil M. Gorsuch Book Review

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch wrote a book that provides a thorough overview of the legal and moral arguments surrounding assisted suicide and euthanasia, as well as a comprehensive argument against their legalization.

Gorsuch’s book surveys a large body of case law, histories from the Netherlands and Oregon, medical ethicists, and medical evidence which shows the major motivation behind physician-assisted suicide is clinical depression, not unbearable pain.  His lucid style makes it easy to understand and even interesting for non-lawyers.

The strengths and weaknesses of arguments for assisted suicide and euthanasia are assessed.  An argument that goes against and completely rejects the traditions of Western Civilization.  Gorsuch then builds a powerful moral and legal argument against legalization for assisted suicide and euthanasia. He builds a moral and legal base on the principle stated in the first chapter “that all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of life by private persons is always wrong.”

The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Neil M. Gorsuch is available at Amazon.

Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg Book Review

Jonah Goldberg sets out to dismantle the assumption that fascism is an offshoot of the right.  Looking at the ideological roots of fascism, American progressives and today’s liberals are the inheritors of ideas that began in the fascist movement. The roots of progressives that became today’s liberals are found in fascism.  Goldberg’s well researched and historical examination traces the roots of fascism from the 18th century to today’s liberals in America.

Video:  Jonah Goldberg – Liberal Fascism – Animated Book Summary

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg is available at Amazon.

Finding Truth Book Review

In Finding Truth Pearcey presents five principles Christian can use to critique and evaluate secular worldviews and recognizing their inadequacies compared with Christianity. She derives these five principles from Romans 1 which she calls, “Paul’s apologetics training manual.”

First, she shows how these five principles relate to Romans 1.   Each chapter explores a principle with concrete examples that is easy to understand.  In each chapter, she makes the case for Christianity.  There are some interesting quotes from scholars.  What is gained are principles that are broadly applicable rather than specific arguments against all the different worldviews.  “The goal,” she writes, “is to master the skills that will enable you to cut to the heart of any set of ideas.”

An excellent book that will help you discern the flaws of different worldviews heard today.

Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey is available at Amazon.

Israel History Resources – Book, DVD

Books


The Case for Israel by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz

Dershowitz does an outstanding job making the case that Israel has a right to exist.  It also puts the Israel-Palestinian conflict into perspective.  The chapters are laid out with arguments made against Israel, the reality,  followed by proof that refutes the arguments. A great resource that is concise, clear, logical and uses historical facts.


The Case Against Israel’s Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace by Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz breaks down the endeavors of Israel’s enemies to revise history. As with “The Case For Israel” the falsehoods against Israel are stated and broken down and disproved using historical facts.
Dershowitz does a great job exposing slanderous lies, falsehoods, and hypocrisy of Israel’s biggest critics and enemies.

DVD


Israel Indivisible – DVD: A Case For The Ancient Homeland
An informative documentary of the history of Israel, ancient to present.

Description:  ‘Israel Indivisible’ examines the many political twists and turns that make Israel the world’s most controversial nation. From Abram and the Promise, to the fall of the Ottoman Empire the film examines the historical, archaeological, legal and Biblical evidence for the ancient and modern state of Israel. At the center of all this history is a group of people who are agreeably the worlds most persecuted. The story of the many is tied together in the story of the one and that one is Israel. Join as we take you on a historical journey to uncover the truth surrounding the controversial issue that is rooted in God’s eternal Covenant with Israel.

Video: ‘Indivisible’ Film Tackles Crusade to Destroy Israel

Germany, at Odds: A Contemporary Testimony Book Review

An interesting and disturbing book written by Eldad Beck, a journalist from Israel, about Germany. Eldad Beck was born in Haifa, which at that time had a large number of German-speaking Jews. and he arrived in Germany with a positive outlook on Germans.  This book throws a light on the country’s stability, democratic image, its past its present attitudes.

With a precision of facts is shown influences that are shaping the country.  The book touches on the relationship between Germany and Israel.  A fractured government.  The rise of Neo-Nazi’s with an increase in power and rank in the German government.  Islamics in the country and their influence on the government.

The book touches on the evil, and the darker side of the German past and explores the attitudes that allowed those events to occur.  It explores today’s Germany, how much is has confronted and transformed from its past.  The book shows Germany is good at ignoring and hiding events to protect how it is perceived by those outside and within the country.

This book was eye-opening and a lot of the times shocking.  A must read.

 

Germany, at Odds by Eldad Beck is available at Amazon.