A Watchman in the Night: What I’ve Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America

Cal Thomas (Humanix Books, $29.99, 330 pages)

A Watchman in the Night by conservative columnist Cal Thomas is an odd book, less biographical than the recital of a series of events that occurred over the 40 years Thomas has been writing syndicated columns. While there are biographical details about Thomas – interviewing politicians, the death of his brother who had Down syndrome, writing about a girl’s science project on the development of prenatal life – there is more simply recounting events in chronological order. The context is that each chapter is a year on the “road trip” Thomas takes us on, beginning in 1984, the year Thomas wrote his first syndicated column (that appeared in fewer than 10 newspapers). Commenting on a column he wrote about Jesse Jackson that year, Thomas says “worldview is the key to just about everything.” The author offers a bit of his worldview in each chapter in a paragraph under the title “Cal’s Take.” Three examples: “Our Constitution begins ‘We the people,’ not ‘Us the government’,” “We tolerate, even promote many things we once regarded as evil, wrong, or immoral. And then we seek ‘explanations’ for an act that seems beyond comprehension,” and “One mark of a deteriorating society is when people cannot discern between truth and lies. Another is that they don’t care …” Each take provides some context for the well-informed opinions Thomas offers on a range of issues. Thomas is most famous for representing the Religious Right point of view in print and there is no shortage of quick takes on a range of issues such as abortion, gay rights, education, and religious freedom. Despite the serious material, it is a fun jaunt down memory lane for both the author and read