Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media

Review: Jacob Mchangama (Basic Books, $40, 514 pages) Jacob Mchangama’s massive but readable and spirited defense of Free Speech is a must-read for anyone interested in this important and increasingly contentious topic. Mcchangama notes that free speech’s origins go back further than the U.S. First Amendment or the Enlightenment. Rather, they have roots in antiquity. Pericles, he notes, extolled the virtues of [...]

2022-05-06T13:23:21-04:00May 6, 2022|Reviews|

De-normalizing normal

From the editor’s desk: You probably saw that during Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings, she refused to answer what a woman is. Joe Biden appointed Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court because she was a black woman, the sole qualification Biden outlined for his first Supreme Court appointment when he was running for president. Asked if she agreed with the late Justice [...]

2022-05-06T13:14:27-04:00May 6, 2022|Paul Tuns, Reviews, Society & Culture|

Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts

Jed Perl (Knopf, $27, 161 pages): Long-time critic Jed Perl (The New York Review of Books, The New Republic) has slim new volume, Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts that is being described in many reviews as a salvo against relevancy. Perl, say these reviewers, defends art-for -art’s sake. Up to a point that this is true. Roger Scruton says [...]

2022-05-05T14:00:02-04:00May 5, 2022|Reviews, Society & Culture|

Roger Scruton: defender of culture, conservatism

Paul Tuns Review: Roger Scruton, an English philosopher who died in 2020, wrote more than 50 books on topics such as art, politics, and philosophy. He started a serious intellectual journal (The Salisbury Review), and established underground academic networks in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. He was knighted in 2016, received three awards of distinction in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and [...]

2022-05-05T13:50:50-04:00May 5, 2022|Reviews|

Pam and Tommy and the Mainstreaming of Porn

Rick McGinnis: Interim writer, Rick McGinnis, Amusements While writing my recent review of Chuck Klosterman’s The Nineties: A Book, I couldn’t help but notice some conspicuous omissions from the catalogue of pop culture and political events the writer referenced in the book. I could understand why he might overlook important events that took place outside the United States – Klosterman’s [...]

2022-04-07T09:37:56-04:00April 6, 2022|Reviews, Society & Culture|

A History of Canadian Fiction

A History of Canadian Fiction David Staines (Cambridge University Press, $126.95, 304 page) David Staines, a professor of English at the University of Ottawa and editor of the New Canadian Library, provides a good overview of English fiction in Canada (although there is nothing on French-language fiction and the author does not even try to justify the omission).  As much as one [...]

2022-03-31T11:15:13-04:00March 31, 2022|Reviews|

The Library: A Fragile History

The Library - A Fragile History: Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen (Basic Books, $44, 518 pages) Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen, a pair of Scottish historians, attempt – and succeed – to provide a history of the library from ancient times to today, and explain its importance. Ultimately, libraries are important because books are important, with Pettegree and der Weduwen [...]

2022-03-29T12:37:37-04:00March 29, 2022|Reviews|

What we lose when we lose tradition

Whatever Happened to Tradition: History, Belonging, and the Future of the West by Tim Stanley (Bloomsbury Continuum, $38, 266 pages) Tradition and especially traditionalism has a bad reputation. It is often conflated with the old-fashioned and nostalgia, which barely begin to scratch the surface of the richness of tradition. Tim Stanley, an editorial writer for the Daily Telegraph in London comes to [...]

2022-03-07T12:35:12-05:00March 7, 2022|Paul Tuns, Reviews, Society & Culture|

100 Poets: A Little Anthology

100 Poets: A Little Anthology by John Carey (Yale University Press, $32.50, 268 pages): Oxford professor emeritus John Carey is the author of The Little History of Poetry and biographies of John Donne and Charles Dickens. His latest book is 100 Poets: A Little Anthology, a fun little collection of representative samples from important poets. The list runs roughly chronologically, beginning with [...]

2022-03-04T16:18:21-05:00March 4, 2022|Reviews|

The City of God 

The City of God  Saint Augustine, selections and introduction by Hans Urs von Balthasar (Ignatius Press, $27, 350 pages) Augustine’s The City of God is an essential book of western civilization, examining the development of the Earthly City and how it relates to the City of God. Standard texts of The City of God run more than 1000 pages and it can [...]

2022-03-04T15:49:54-05:00March 4, 2022|Reviews|

The joy of Lenten Cooking

Emma Castellino Review: The Lenten Cookbook by David Geisser with essays by Scott Hahn (Sophia Institute Press, $29.95, 224 pages) In the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, set in medieval Norway, we are told about one nursing mother who was exempted from her Lenten obligations. She took her accommodations just as seriously as she had previously observed the fast, and thrived. I was struck [...]

2022-03-02T16:41:52-05:00February 25, 2022|Reviews, Society & Culture|

‘No place like home:’ Sci-fi gets scared

Rick McGinnis: Interim writer, Rick McGinnis, Amusements If you want to feel bad about the future, the best place to start is modern science fiction. This probably isn’t where it was supposed to be going, but it’s where we are now, based on the most popular and acclaimed sci fi literature being published. A previous column discussed recent sci fi [...]

2022-02-10T09:49:31-05:00February 10, 2022|Reviews, Rick McGinnis|

Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash

Books of the Day: Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash Michael Stewart Foley (Basic Books $40, 355 pages) Historian Michael Stewart Foley attempts to make Johnny Cash an exemplar of the “politics of empathy” in his biographical examination of the political views of the famous country singer. Fans may recall the patriotic Johnny Cash that chastised hippies and [...]

2022-02-04T15:08:55-05:00February 4, 2022|Reviews|

In praise of Peter Kreeft

By Paul Tuns Review: Wisdom and Wonder: How Peter Kreeft Shaped the Next Generation of Catholics edited by Brandon Voigt (Ignatius Press, $23.95, 197 pages) There are two great living pro-life philosophers Donald DeMarco and Peter Kreeft. They are similar in many ways: orthodox Catholics with a way of thinking and words that help lesser mortals to see what is often in [...]

2022-01-14T10:00:08-05:00January 14, 2022|Reviews|

Future shock: why is sci-fi so dystopic?

Rick McGinnis The biggest news since the tentative re-opening of movie theatres is the smashing success of the movie Dune – nearly $400 million worldwide for a film that only tells the story of half the novel it’s based on, and which was delayed for release for a year during lockdown. Critics are predicting the movie could create a franchise to overtake [...]

2022-01-12T12:07:32-05:00January 12, 2022|Reviews, Rick McGinnis, Society & Culture|
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