The Corner

Christmas Shopping with NRO

The War for Righteousness, by Richard M. Gamble: British people think about World War I far too much, nursing a romantic cult of poets and aesthetes mowed down by machine-gun fire in hopeless charges across No Man’s Land under blundering upper-class-twit-type generals.

Americans, by contrast, think and read about that war too little. There are important lessons to be learned from World War I. Conservative historian Richard Gamble teaches one of them in this illuminating book: that progressive Christianity, given its head, will turn into a no-expense-spared effort to put the whole world to rights. To put the U.S.A. to rights also: It’s dismaying how easily the “social gospel” lurched over into federal bossiness, even into Bolshevism.

If you have ever wondered how a Jeffersonian commercial republic became a big-government missionary enterprise, here is a key piece of the puzzle.

Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why, by Ian Fletcher: I noted this book briefly on the Corner a few weeks ago. The trick to writing an anti–free trade book is to show the follies and deformations of economic dogmatism without slipping into Buchananite why-can’t-it-be-1955-again nostalgia. Fletcher pulls it off very elegantly, with clear arguments discreetly repeated to drive his points home.

My thought on finishing the book was: First thing we do, let’s kill all the economists . . . except Ian Fletcher. The German Genius, by Peter Watson: I love grab-bag books with big, vague themes, and I have a well-thumbed copy of Watson’s 2000 book The Modern Mind on my shelf. I’m also a keen Germanophile, so I had to get this one.

Just started in on it and, so far, it’s well up to expectations. If you are one of the, oh, 99 percent of Americans who think that modern German history began in 1933 and ended in 1945, it’s time you got acquainted with the greatest national flowering of European civilization. Any impartial observer of 100 years ago, asked to name the most advanced, most promising nation in Europe, would have said “Germany” without hesitation.

And if you must obsess about how it all went so horribly wrong, I’m betting there are clues in here somewhere.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Update on Alfie Evans

In the few hours since I sent in the piece below, a remarkable succession of events has occurred that paint the decision of the UK authorities in ever-bleaker colors. In the hospital, Alfie was removed from the respirator in accordance with the court’s decision. For the moment, however, he has continued ... Read More
Sports

Hurray for the NBA

Last month, just before the Final Four, I did a Q&A on college basketball with our Theodore Kupfer. Teddy K. is back, by popular demand, joined by two other experts: Vivek Dave, an old friend of mine from Michigan, who has long lived in Chicago, and David French, National Review’s Kentucky Kid, now ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More
Culture

Monday Links

A Supercut of Epic Movie Explosions. Can You Solve These 10 Medieval Riddles? The cost to make a Margherita pizza: $1.77. How much restaurants charge on average for a pizza: $12. The actual costs of restaurant foods. Vintage animation lessons -- how to make things cute. London's "Great ... Read More
World

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Trump’s Syria Quandary

President Trump raised eyebrows recently when he ended a tweet lauding the airstrikes he’d ordered against chemical-weapons facilities in Syria with the words “mission accomplished.” The phrase, of course, became infamous in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, when President Bush used it in a speech ... Read More