Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

This 372-page book is a collection of Ron Paul’s foreign policy speeches in the House of Representatives, and he addressed many of these topics during his 2008 presidential campaign. The tone of the book is revealed in the introduction which says the Cold War and the War on Terror are both a “farce”, and they were designed to justify a larger role for government. The author compares the United States role in Afghanistan to “a schoolyard bully.”
The book is important because Congressman Paul is one of the few Republicans who is opposing President Obama’s surge of 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, and his support from the GOP grassroots continues to grow significantly. Paul raised over $35 million for his presidential campaign, and his son (who shares his national security extremism) has an excellent chance of being elected to the U.S. Senate this year.
The book’s title is ironic because the author is completely opposed to the Republican Party’s freedom agenda. This was outlined by Ronald Reagan, and the keystone of this foreign policy is assisting democratic resistance and free market movements. This is what Reagan did in Afghanistan and Nicaragua when he was strenuously opposed by the Libertarians. Ron Paul emphasized his extreme opposition to Reagan when he was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.
Reagan called for “A crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny . . . Our mission is to preserve freedom as well as peace.” Ron Paul is a firm opponent of the freedom agenda and a more accurate title for this book is “A Foreign Policy of Isolationism.”
This book is a must read for any one who is considering supporting the Libertarian Party. I admire free market libertarians who advocate small government and low taxes, but this book clearly emphasizes the radical nature of the Libertarian Party’s national security and foreign policy agenda. The libertarians and paleo-conservatives will remain fringe groups until they disavow this extremist agenda.
I am not sure why Ron Paul is a Republican, but as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee he frequently votes with the Democratic majority. He was first elected in 1976 and has always been isolated in the Republican Caucus. He was the Libertarian Party’s 1988 presidential candidate, and during that campaign he was far more critical of Reagan and George H.W. Bush than Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.
Paul sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, but in one of many stunning moves he often praised ultra-liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who is well to the left of Barack Obama. Paul and Kucinich are united by isolationism and because they are both adherents of numerous conspiracy theories.
Rep. Paul has always been an isolationist, but prefers to call himself a non-interventionist. This book makes it plain that Paul wants to ignore the lessons of the 20th century. He wants to end America’s system of collective security, which probably would have avoided both World Wars I and II. Paul is an advocate of U.S. withdrawal from the UN, NATO, the World Trade Organization and practically every other international organization.
Despite all of the potential terrorists who have recently been captured, Paul also wants to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. Paul acknowledges Afghanistan’s responsibility for 9/11 and in 1991 he admitted Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, but in both instances he wanted to do nothing in response. In fact, he wants to ignore all evil in the world. He wanted to do nothing about the genocide in Darfur or the ethnic cleaning in the former Yugoslavia. Morality means nothing to him.
This book is also poorly written and tedious to read. It would have been better if the redundant speeches had been eliminated, but that would have left only a small number of pages.
The speeches should have been organized by subject rather than the year in which they were delivered. There is no organized structure or logical progression to this book. It has no index, and the table of contents is inadequate. The book also contains numerous typographical and factual errors.
The author’s isolationist and simplistic foreign policy is easy to summarize because there is not much to it. Similar to his domestic ideology, he advocates highly impractical solutions to complex problems.
The best way to understand the author is read his works. This is what he says about neo-conservatives, and practically all of his accusations are wrong: “More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the means – that hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should not be limited to the defense of our country.
14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.

The author is correct that conservatives do support the Patriot Act but it is not an attack on civil liberties. They support Israel but there is no special relationship with Likud. A preemptive war was necessary in Iraq, but every other statement above made by the Congressman is false.
The author makes repeated references to our founding fathers. What he does not say is that United States had the first democratic revolution, and many of the founding fathers acknowledged they were acting for all nations.
It is disturbing that Rep. Paul wants the United States to ignore all of the state sponsors of terror. The Congressman’s repeated insistence that “There is no risk of somebody invading us” is just what the isolationists of the 1930s believed — right up until Pearl Harbor.
He is wrong and they did attack us: 1993 (WTC I), 1996 (Khobar Towers), 1998 (African Embassies), 2000 (USS Cole), and 2001 (WTC/Pentagon). His logic would have caused the US to lift not a finger to help Europe against Hitler (remember: “non-intervention”), nor help the West Berliners (1948), nor help the South Koreans (1950), nor help the Grenadians (1984), nor help the Kuwaitis (1990).
Paul’s idea that we can maintain peace by halting our projection of military strength has been proven wrong by history. Collective security was a major lesson of the 20th century.
Ron Paul has not outlined a foreign policy of freedom, but he has done an excellent job of articulating a foreign policy of failure.

“Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis” by Al Gore, Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

BOOK REVIEW: “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis” by former Vice President Al Gore.
This book was published earlier this month and it is the long awaited sequel to his best sellers “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), and “Earth In The Balance” (1999). Gore is the co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the UN IPCC, and his global warming movie received the Academy Award. Newsweek has already published a cover story about Gore and the book entitled “The Thinking Man’s Thinking Man.”
The book is based on 30 of Gore’s ‘Solutions Summits,’ but my conclusion is that he needs to do some more thinking because he rejects so many obvious solutions!
His recommendations on farming strategies and soil degradation have merit, and the book is filled with beautiful photos and impressive charts. There is nothing wrong with solar, wind and geothermal power, but they will never generate the energy we need. As usual, Al Gore panders to the environmental lobby and misses the big picture.
“An Inconvenient Truth” had nine fundamental errors as well as scores of misrepresentations. A graph showed the correlation between global average temperatures and CO2 concentration over the last 400,000 years. What he didn’t point out was that the temperature changes preceded the CO2 changes by hundreds of years, which completely contradicted his thesis.
The new book is not an improvement, and it is poorly referenced. The theme of the book is that global warming is a huge problem, but the author ignores immediate answers which have bipartisan support. Gore says “I am not an opponent of nuclear power, and I hope it can become a larger part of our energy mix.” Then he proceeds to portray nuclear power as an exorbitant and dangerous dead end. He never says nuclear power is an affordable and carbon-free energy source.
Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ)’s call for 45 new reactors by 2030 is dismissed. I am a global warming skeptic who is well aware of Gore’s background, but I was genuinely hoping the former Vice President would be seeking some common ground solutions. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Gore’s book would be a bipartisan framework which could be presented at the Copenhagen climate negotiations next month.
A few of Gore’s suggestions are sensible, and he praises the Christian Coalition and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), but no prominent Republican would agree to his anti-business agenda. Once again, Gore rejects an expansion of nuclear power as well as offshore oil drilling. He does not acknowledge the huge progress which has been made to stop offshore oil spills. He is not enthusiastic about “clean coal” technology for carbon capture and storage at coal burning power plants. He does not mention the urgent need to streamline the nuclear power permit system.
The good news is that people are starting to see through Gore’s smoke and mirrors. The former Vice President always refuses to debate and he will not accept interview requests from skeptical journalists. He has good reasons because he can not answer many basic questions.
Gore can not explain why the Earth has not warmed at all since 1998, or why his data on global ice melting is so misleading. A British court would not allow his movie to be shown in public schools because of the significant number of errors, and over 700 respected climatologists are now rejecting the man made global warming theory. The group includes many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. The over 700 dissenting scientists are more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
The author also wants to avoid talking about the over 3,000 emails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) which were posted to the Internet this week. They clearly demonstrate the fraudulent nature of many of the claims about manmade global warming. The CRU has been at the center of global warming debate for the past decade. Many climate scientists were funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, but Gore also does not address why his allies are trying to thwart a Congressional investigation of their data.
The concerns are so widespread that the APEC nations have announced they will not sign enforceable limits on greenhouse-gas emissions at Copenhagen. China and India have made it clear they are rejecting any new cap and trade system, and the Kyoto climate change protocol is set to expire in 2012. There is now a real possibility it will not be renewed.

Book Review: “My Boyfriend’s Back: 50 True Stories of Reconnecting with a Long-Lost Love” by Donna Hanover.

As a New Yorker and Rudy Giuliani fan I was fully prepared to dislike this book, but I ended up enjoying it. From 1994 through 2001 the author was First Lady of New York City. She and Giuliani were married for 18 years and had two children. She was the lead anchor for the 10 p.m. news on WPIX Channel 11 for much of the 1980s. She previously was an anchorwoman in Miami and also appeared on the syndicated Wall Street Journal Report.
Donna Hanover and Mayor Giuliani had a public and messy divorce in which she refused to move out of NYC’s Gracie Mansion. The theme of the book is encountering the romantic past, and many of the couples had not seen each other since high school or even grammar school. They claim these rekindled relationships have erased the decades. The stories are mostly, but not all, happy endings. The age ranges of the reunited couples range from 20s thru 70s. It includes regular folks and some celebrities.
Among them are Carol Channing, who married her high school sweetheart, Harry Kullijian, in 2003, when they were in their early 80’s. Suzanne Pleshette and Tom Poston, both of “The Bob Newhart Show,” were wed in 2001, 45 years after their romance went bust. The designer Nicole Miller also reconnected with an early love, as did Carole Keeton Rylander. She called herself “one tough grandma” when she won re-election to the state comptroller’s job in Texas in 2002. In August 2003, Donna Hanover, 53, married Edwin A. Oster, whom she met in high school at a debate team competition in Northern California.
Her point is that a romantic interest from the distant past leaves an imprint on your mind that never goes away. It is not that you just happened to meet the right person at 15. The sharing of roots is very significant. These couples have things in common from growing up the same way. The fantasy is that you see this person the way they were. You look at an 80 year old woman and see an 18 year old. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support Hanover’s thesis regarding the impact of early romances.
Hanover relies heavily on the work of Nancy Kalish, a psychology professor at California State University in Sacramento and author of the 1997 book “Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romance”. Kalish has spent 11 years collecting data from more than 3,000 adults who tried reunions
In Kalish’s initial sample of 1,000 lost-and-found lovers, ages 18 to 95, nearly three-quarters remained together after a decade of study. When these past lovers married each other, their divorce rate after four years tallied in at no more than 1.5 percent. Usually, second marriages are relatively fragile: In the public at large, nearly one-quarter of all couples who remarry get divorced again within five years.
If you are seriously interested in this topic you should read Kalish. If you want light reading with amusing anecdotes than Hanover is the best choice.
The first chapter of Hanover’s book includes the following dialogue:
“It was August 2002, a stifling hot afternoon in New York … Nothing stood out about that day until the phone rang. “Donna, it’s Ed Oster.” I sat down. Ed Oster was my high school love. He was also my college love – until he broke my heart. I tried to hear Ed’s voice over the pulse pounding in my ear.
“I was wondering,” Ed asked tentatively, “if you’re planning to go to the Stanford reunion.” This was interesting to say the least. What was going on here? This was the guy who had dumped me freshman year and had spoken to me for maybe two minutes at our reunion five years ago.
“Yes,” I said and then waited. Silently I prayed, “Please don’t let this be about fund-raising.” “Well, the reunion isn’t until October,” Ed said, “but my work is bringing me to New York next week. I was wondering if I could take you out for coffee.” I thought to myself, “I gotta call somebody – no one’s going to believe this.” Oh-so-casually I responded, “Let me check my calendar.” After flipping through several weeks of blank “date” pages, I said, “I think I can free up a little time.”

“Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir” by Christopher Buckley — Book Review by Gregory Hilton

My admiration for the William F. Buckley’s will not come as a surprise to anyone, but this book is a real disappointment. Christopher Buckley is a successful novelist but I could never have done a hatchet job like this on my parents. He harshly criticizes them for what appear to be minor infractions. He portrays his mother as a borderline alcoholic and a pathological liar. He also tell us she was not religious and a hypocrite:
“I don’t think I ever once heard Mum utter a religious or spiritual sentiment, a considerable feat considering that she was married for 57 years to one of the most prominent Catholics in the country. But she rigorously observed the proprieties. When Pup taped an episode of ‘Firing Line’ in the Sistine Chapel with Princess Grace, Malcolm Muggeridge, Charlton Heston and David Niven, Mum was included in the post-taping audience with Pope John Paul II. There’s a photo of the occasion: she has on more black lace than a Goya duchess. The total effect is that of Mary Magdalene dressed by Bill Blass.”
Christopher tell us his father neglected him. He complains because his dad left his Yale graduation ceremony before it was over, and he withheld encouraging words about Christopher’s books.
At the very least, Christopher used his father’s means and name to establish himself, and that alone is enough to demand a shred of loyalty.
William F. Buckley was a prolific and highly regarded author. Perhaps he was a workaholic and Pat Buckley could have been a alcoholic. This is a book that never should have been written, and should not be read. I would have told Christopher to talk to a friend, a pastor, or a therapist about issues with his parents. His parents now have no way of explaining or denying these accusations.

The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington by Robert D. Novak

The best part is Novak's response of Ambassador Joseph Wilson

The best part is Novak's response of Ambassador Joseph Wilson

The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington by Robert D. Novak

The book has many entertaining stories about DC in the old days, and we are missing a lot from that era. The book’s original manuscript was 1,400 pages which was reduced to 672 pages. At the end I wanted to read more and I am now wondering what I missed.
The best part was Novak’s rebuttal of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who in 2004 published “The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity: A Diplomat’s Memoir.” In late February of 2002, Wilson was sent to Niger on behalf of the CIA to investigate the possibility that Saddam Hussein had a deal to buy enriched uranium yellowcake. Wilson’s July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed article became one of the focal points for the 2004 president campaign. Wilson claimed President Bush lied because of the controversial “16 words” in his 2003 State of the Union Address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
Wilson said Iraq was never trying to acquire uranium from Niger, but Novak demonstrates that the person who was lying is Wilson. Wilson’s claims were rebutted by the Senate Intelligence Committee report, the British government’s Butler Committee report and by Wilson’s prior actions. The British Inquiry said “It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.”
A July 13, 2005 “Wall Street Journal” editorial also says Wilson lied in his “What I Didn’t Find in Africa” article. The Journal says Wilson lied about “what he’d discovered in Africa, how he’d discovered it, what he’d told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission.” An editorial headlined “A Good Leak” published in the April 9, 2006 “Washington Post” claims “Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth and that, in fact, his report [to the CIA] supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium.”

Book Review: The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes

A new and revised paperback edition has now been released.

A new and revised paperback edition has now been released.

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes

I highly recommend this book because it has important lessons for policy makers in the Obama Administration who will address the current international economic downturn. The book is an excellent rebuttal to anyone who claims “FDR’s policies got us out of the Great Depression.”
The New Deal programs of the 1930’s such as the establishment of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the FDIC were essential reforms. A significant number of President Franklin Roosevelt’s reforms were actually began during the Herbert Hoover Administration. A significant change was that FDR began the process of reversing the disastrous protectionism of Hoover’s Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which raised rates to 70% and resulted in trade barriers around the world. The tariff rates came down but they were still too high to generate global trade.
Other New Deal efforts to limit supply and control wages and prices were definitely not successful. In fact, the author demonstrates how the National Recovery Act and the Works Progress Administration were a hindrance to economic recovery. The Great Depression began at the end of October in 1929, but in 1938 another serious downturn occurred. This was called “a depression within a depression,” and it emphasized the failure of so many New Deal reforms. FDR’s attacks on the business community, his high tax rates and his class warfare rhetoric all resulted in a dramatic drop in the type of investment which was essential for recovery.
I have read many books on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression and I would rank this as one of the best. I saw many parallels to the increased tax and spend policies which are being advocated today.