Worth a look

Here are some worthwhile links for your browsing pleasure:

– The American Spectator has an interesting piece on Jim Baen editor and founder of the U.S. science-fiction publisher Baen Books:

His role as a cultural warrior was a proud one. He contributed very significantly, below the radar of sociological and cultural commentators, to the strengthening of Western culture.

He also did something not many cultural warriors, and not many publishers, can claim: he may have contributed directly and significantly to the West winning the Cold War.

Not bad for an ex-hippie who left home at 17, lived on the streets for several months and finally enlisted in the U.S. Army to avoid starving.

– Also in the Spectator, check out the Interview with John O’Sullivan on his new book (The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister) which I hope to read this year. A sample:

BC: As someone who knows Prime Minister Thatcher, what is her personality like? Did she deserve the nickname “Iron Lady” or was that just Soviet agitprop?

O’Sullivan: Lady Thatcher is a warm, lively and combative personality. She likes a good argument and so she likes people who argue with her. She certainly deserved the title “The Iron Lady” because she was firm and authoritative in the face of attack. She also had the administrative stamina to push through her labor and economic reforms not only against union opposition but also against the usual bureaucratic obstructionism in government. Because Blair lacks this stamina, his achievements will fall far short of hers on the day he leaves office. As a boss she was kind, thoughtful and considerate, especially to those lower down the pecking order. But she was also demanding and tough towards ministers and senior civil servants. Sometimes she took this too far — it’s generally agreed that she treated Geoffrey Howe badly because she misread his mild good-natured personality as a sign of weakness. She paid heavily for that error. In general, though, she is a very kind woman. She also has a strong domestic side. She used to cook supper for aides working late with her on speeches. I think of her as a combination of towering world-historical figure and ordinary British housewife — and equally good in both capacities.

– Andrew C. McCarthy reviews The Truth About Muhammad by Robert Spencer over at NRO today:

Islam is quintessentially tolerant. Its adherents are hospitable to liberty, equality, and pluralism, the rudiments of modern democracy. Those committing terror in its name are heretics — a fringe which has “hijacked” a “religion of peace.”

This conventional wisdom brims over the mainstream media’s daily servings. It is, moreover, the not-to-be-questioned premise of U.S. policy on a host of paramount issues: everything from how the war on terror is conceptualized and prosecuted, to the wisdom of negotiations with Iran, a sovereign state for Palestinians, agitation for freedom and popular self-determination throughout the Middle East, and the assumption that our own growing Muslim population will seamlessly assimilate.

But is it true?

Emphatically, the answer is “no.” So argues best-selling author and Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer in The Truth about Muhammad — Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion (Regnery, 256 pages, $27.95). And he does not expect you to take his word for it.

– I have enjoyed Dinesh D’Souza’s work before, (see here for example) and am no fan of Timothy Noah, but it seem that he raises some legitimate concerns about D’Souza’s most recent book in this article at Slate. Read the article to see if Noah convinces you, but here is his conclusion:

As a strategy, forging a values-based alliance with foreigners against your fellow countrymen strikes me as a tad, well, unpatriotic. But making culture war a weapon in the war against Islamist terror would serve to elevate conservative crochets and prejudices to the higher theoretical plane of national security. I wonder whether that opportunity will persuade other right-wingers to risk ridicule by joining D’Souza’s loopy jihad.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. Thanks for linking to the Jim Baen article. As an author who benefited from his tutelage, I’m saddened to think that it may be a long time before we see such another.

  2. Please add my thanks for the Jim Baen link. SF has played a great part in the unschooled portion of my learning. Surely I owe some of that to Mr. Baen. I would suspect that SF needs a more critical look at its history and accomplishments, such as this article suggests. As is true with other conservatives, there were certain movements, publishers, authors I avoided in my reading. I wonder what has taken SF (or what is called SF) to where it is today. A retrospect might enable us to a fresh appreciation of SF’s worth and possibly its rebirth as an ally in the war to preserve Western civilisation.

    I find Mr. D’Souza’s assertion provocative. Undoubtedly the Slate article, which I’ve not read (only the Amazon blurbs) will deconstruct some of his meaning. But what is missing today in conservative talk, at least the bit I hear, is some sense of moral crusade. We do hole the high ground (indeed the only ground) but most mainstream conservatism spends its time fighting itself or attacking Leftist windmills. Perhaps author D’Souza aims to re focus the nature of the conflict. AS you, Kevin, I do value other writings from the author.

  3. One sentence above should read thus:

    “We do hold the high ground (indeed the only ground) but most mainstream conservatism spends its time fighting itself or attacking Leftist windmills.”


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