It’s out and, as always, it’s chockful of brainy goodness. Because I want to discuss it elsewhere, I’m going to hold off commenting on Hayward’s epic review of conservative books (though it pales in epicness to Allen Guelzo’s review of 24 Lincoln books). But so far I must commend James Q. Wilson’s essay “Is Addiction Voluntary?” Wilson is one of those guys who can force you to reconsider a position simply by stating a position contrary to your own. He reviews Addiction: A Disorder of Choice by Gene Heyman, and while Wilson ultimately comes down on the same side I’m on, his discussion of the books findings is the first thing I’ve read in years that has given me serious cause to rethink my own views.
My second commendation is to Jeremy Rabkin. To paraphrase Lionel Hutz, I don’t use the word “hero” often, but Rabkin is the greatest hero who ever lived. It’s one thing to read books you enjoy and review them. It’s one thing to read books you hate, and review them. But to read U.N. Ideas That Changed the World, a 336 page volume from the U.N. Intellectual History Project (yes, there is such a thing) is an act of intellectual courage and self-sacrifice that should be applauded. Personally, I would rather give Al Sharpton a Brazillian wax than read a book like that.
It’s not online yet, so I’ll excerpt just two paragraphs:
Just to get started, the book requires four pages of specialized U.N. acronyms, ranging from CDP (“Year of the Child Committee on Development Planning”) to UNRISD (UN Research Institute for Social Development”) and so on, down to the WFP (“World Food Programme”).
We never read about who does what to whom, exactly. We read about conferences and processes and problems. We read about R2P proposals — UN Bureacratize for “responsibility to protect.” We do not read about the millions slaughtered in central Africa over the past two decades under the eyes of U.N. peacekeepers, or the tens of thousands of children raped and sexually abused by those same peacekeepers. It doesn’t seem to matter who needs protection from whom or by whom. It’s as if listing or talking, however vaguely, were its own contribution to world peace. This is, above all, a book about “agendas.”
Anyway, there’s a lot more I haven’t read yet: O’Sullivan’s review of Hayward, Gerard Alexander’s review of Chris Caldwell, Dalrymple on Islam in America, Bill Voegeli on Shop Class as Soulcraft, and lots, lots more.