Book Reviews

The Case against Schooling

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The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money by Bryan Caplan (Princeton University Press, 2018, 395 pages). Almost every book on education policy (and I have read a great many of them) springs from the set of assumptions that education “experts” embrace: that schooling builds our stock of knowledge and ... [click for more]

Nightfall on the American Empire

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In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power by Alfred W. McCoy (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017). In August of 2007, David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States and director of the Government Accountability Office, delivered a speech remarkable for its plainspoken nature to the Federal Midwest Human Resources ... [click for more]

A Safe Space to Watch a War

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The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (PBS, 2017) DVD. The documentary television event of 2017 was the 10-part PBS series titled The Vietnam War, directed by both Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The series took 10 years and more than $30 million to make. Released last September, it garnered rave reviews all over the ... [click for more]

Another Bloody American Century

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The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II by John W. Dower (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017; 184 pages) Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was livid. “In the dead of night,” the California Democrat wrote on Twitter in July, House Speaker Paul Ryan did something “underhanded and undemocratic.” He stripped out her bipartisan amendment to repeal ... [click for more]

A Bad Attack on Libertarian Economics

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Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak (Pantheon Books, 2017; 237 pages) There is a nasty genre of writing: books and articles that seek to build the case for socialism and interventionist government policies by smearing those of us who oppose them. That approach appeals greatly to Progressives who think that they are virtuous and their ... [click for more]

Come You Masters of War

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America’s War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew J. Bacevich (New York: Random House, 2016; 480 pages) America’s military involvement in the Middle East began in classic imperial fashion, according to military historian and retired Army colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. They had something we needed, and we made sure we had access to it. “Oil has ... [click for more]

Misguided Attacks on the Rich

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Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H. Frank (Princeton University Press, 2016; 208 pages) In 2002, I reviewed an atrocious book for this publication — The Myth of Ownership, by Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel. It argued that we don’t really deserve to own anything because society makes everything possible. Therefore, ... [click for more]

The Abyss Gazes Back

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The United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists by Peter Bergen (New York: Crown Publishers, 2016); 400 pages. It took only a few hours after two Islamic State suicide bombings ripped apart the departure hall of Brussels Airport and subway cars in central Brussels for Sen. Ted Cruz to offer a “do something” solution to the threat ... [click for more]

The Badlands of Executive Order 9066

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Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II by Richard Reeves (Henry Holt and Company, 2015); 384 pages. The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II by Jan Jarboe Russell (Scribner, 2015); 2015; 417 pages. One of the great scandals of American history is ... [click for more]

The Disaster of Progressivism

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Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era by Thomas C. Leonard (Princeton University Press, 2016), 264 pages. In his paper, “The Study of Administration,” Woodrow Wilson offered his reassurances that the professionalization of bureaucracy in America would not result in a “domineering, illiberal officialism.” Free Americans, Wilson argued, had nothing to fear from borrowing ... [click for more]

End the Fed

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Who Needs the Fed? by John Tamny (Encounter Books, 2016); 224 pages. I really don’t like to start a review with a quibble, but in this instance, I must. My quibble is with the title of the book, which makes it seem as though it is aimed only at knocking out support for the Federal Reserve ... [click for more]

The Tyranny of the Distance

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The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program by Jeremy Scahill and the Staff of The Intercept (Simon & Schuster, 2016); 256 pages. Last summer, the Obama administration finally made good on its promise to provide some transparency to its targeted killing program — well, sort of. On a Friday before the long July Fourth ... [click for more]
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