That’s Ortega y Gasset’s definition of history, according to Albert Camus’s 1951-1959 notebooks.
One more review to plug today: my take on Daniel Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left, which is now up (and going on the main page tomorrow, I think) at the American Spectator‘s website.
With a title like Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, Pat Buchanan’s new book might seem designed to court controversy. But that’s not the case, at least not as far as I have been able to tell from the first 100 pages. For one thing, “Unnecessary War” is not Buchanan’s phrase, it’s Churchill’s. Buchanan was spurred to write the book by a letter he received from George Kennan after he sent Kennan a copy of A Republic, Not an Empire. Kennan agreed with Buchanan’s view in the earlier book that the British guarantee of Poland’s security “was neither necessary nor wise” (in Kennan’s words). The new book expands on that idea, among many others.
Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, alongside volumes by John Lukacs, Nicholson Baker, and Lynne Olson, here. Wheatcroft is critical of Buchanan (“Although Buchanan’s argument isn’t stupid, it requires something like a historiographical sleight of hand, and is conducted backward, as it were”), but he isn’t romantic about Churchill:
Churchill led the way in cruel, brutish, and exterminatory war-making against women and children partly thanks to his uncompromising personality, partly thanks to what was seen as the logic of the situation. Three years after he hoped for “devastating, exterminating” attacks on civilians, he was shown blazing German towns filmed from the air, and exclaimed, “Are we beasts? Have we taken this too far?” And two years after that he tried (not very creditably) to dissociate himself from the destruction of Dresden by Bomber Command.
There’s much more of a Churchill cult in America than in his (and Wheatcroft’s) home country. A reconsideration of him is long overdue.
The season of Kauffmaniana continues, as Bill takes a look at Ron Paul’s book over at Taki’s Magazine. Here’s a taste:
As for the word “isolationist,” which I’ve always thought had a nice pacific ring to it, Rep. Paul gives taxonomic reversal the old college try. He tags the unilateral bullies of the Bush administration “isolationists” and avers, “I favor the very opposite of isolation: diplomacy, free trade, and freedom of travel.” And ‘tis true that the “isolationist” Paul was the only GOP presidential hopeful to support lifting sanctions against Cuba.
He fires off this nice line: “Mine is an ‘isolationist’ position only to those who believe that the world’s peoples can interact with each other only through their governments, or only through the intermediary of a supranational bureaucracy.”
Update: Dave Weigel offers a Reason-ed review of The Revolution here, while Stacy McCain reviews Bill’s book over at The American Spectator on-line.
My review of Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism is now on-line. And here’s author Bill Kauffman’s review of Ginger Strand’s Inventing Niagara, from Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.
Two items of particular interest in tomorrow’s edition (on line today) of the New York Times Book Review. First, there’s George Will’s take on Nixonland, the new book by Rick Perlstein, who, though a man of the Left himself, wrote a classic account of the Goldwater movement in his last book, Before the Storm. (Lew Rockwell’s review of that earlier work is here.) Perlstein has become one of my favorite political writers on the strength of these two books, though so far I’ve only had a chance to glance through Nixonland — it’s a 900-page doorstop. Once I’ve read it properly, I’ll write about it myself.
The 40th anniversary of 1968 — year of Gene McCarthy, LBJ dropping out, the French New Left taking Paris, the King and RFK assassinations, and all the rest — has been garnering a lot of coverage (including in the forthcoming issue of The American Conservative, wherein Bill Kauffman writes about what was right about the New Left), but the Times‘ Rachel Donadio look back a decade earlier in “1958: War of the Intellectuals,” which isn’t actually a very interesting piece, to be honest, but I flag it up for its Dwight Macdonald content. Any mention of Dwight is worth a bit of notice.
Meanwhile, I’m holed up in my garret working on a book review and a short article about Phyllis Schlafly. Will post some details once those pieces are written and on their way toward publication, God, and editors, willing.
Bill Kauffman’s event yesterday was great fun — a provocative talk from Bill, a friendly rejoinder from Michael Tomasky, and about 20 minutes of audience Q+A, plus a reception afterwards. Catch up if you missed it by listening to the MP3 or watching the RealVideo.
About three-quarters of the TAC office trekked down to the event, where we found, as expected, a great many familiar faces: Jeremy Lott and Stacy McCain of the American Spectator, Jesse Walker of Reason, my Robert Taft Club associates Richard Spencer and Marcus Epstein, Twilight at Monticello scribe Alan Crawford, as well as Cato’s own Justin Logan and Gene Healy, and many others. Lots of people Dick Cheney would like to see in Gitmo, in other words.
I have a review of Dan Flynn’s new book written and awaiting publication, but in the meantime, Tory Anarchist readers will certainly enjoy Bill Kauffman’s take on the book at First Principles.
And if you’re in the D.C. area, don’t forget to come to Bill Kauffman’s event at the Cato Institute tomorrow. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.
Washington University — my alma mater, and also Phyllis Schlafly’s — is planning to award her an honorary doctorate. Predictably, the campus Left is outraged — and desperate to derail the accoldae.
I happen to think the practice of awarding honoring doctorates is ridiculous, but Schlafly is one of Wash U’s most famous alumnae and a woman who has accomplished a hell of a lot more than any of her critics. One doesn’t need to agree with her politics to acknowledge that she’s an historic, even iconic, figure. So far, most of the lefty malcontents have been expressing their hysteria by joining a Facebook group, while the university is standing firm.
There are pro-Schlafly Facebook groups too — at least two that I’ve joined. I hope other students, alumns, and supporters will sign-up and, more importantly, make sure that the university doesn’t capitulate. Abolish honorary doctorates if you don’t want to court controversy by awarding them, but if you’re going to have them, Phyllis Schlafly deserves one. It’s about time Wash U recognized her achievements — when I helped bring her to speak on campus way back when, she mentioned that it was the first time in decades that anyone at the university had extended an invitation. Frankly, it’s the university that will be doing itself the honor by giving Schlafly her due.
Light updating this week as the forthcoming issue of The American Conservative has been in the works (with articles by Peter Hitchens, Bill Kauffman, and other worthies) and I have three articles to write for various outlets over the next ten days or so. Blogging tends to get neglected in such circumstances.
While I’m at work on other things, however, I thought I’d throw out a question for anyone out there with technical expertise: is there a particularly good hosting service I should use if I move the Tory Anarchist over to another server? 1and1.com looks inexpensive. I hear BlueHost.com is very user-friendly (especially for WordPress). If there are better services out there, let me know.