Category Archives: Book Reviews

Cato the Elder… on Statues

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Cato the Elder: not the cheeriest guy in Rome, but one of the wisest

Marcus Porcius Cato, Cato the Elder, was the arch-conservative of Rome’s republic and used his considerable powers to preserve it, very likely gaining for it an extra hundred years. His great-grandson, Cato the Younger, gave his life trying to protect it from Caesar.

Cato the Elder had too much opposition ever to become an idol of the masses; and once upon a time, according to Plutarch, someone asked him why such a famous and important man as Cato didn’t have a statue in the Forum.

Cato’s answer: “I would rather people asked why I didn’t have a statue, than why I did.”

If you haven’t read Plutarch’s Lives, and would like a nice, thick book jam-packed with history, philosophy, and character study that’ll probably carry you through an entire year of fascinating reading–well, what are you waiting for?

‘Dracula Revisited’ (2015)

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The late, great, Christopher Lee

I haven’t looked at any nooze yet today, I keep putting it off. Somehow I doubt anything got better overnight. Instead, let’s visit Dracula.

Dracula Revisited

The great thing about a monster like Dracula is that even though he scares you, at the end of the book, he’s toast. But the headlines just go on and on, endless horror. Even if you could get rid of Pelosi, someone just as awful would take her place in a nanosecond.

It’s a great relief to escape from a horrific situation, even if it’s only by shutting the book.

If only we could shut the book on Far Left Crazy.

P.S.–Only one comment so far today? One?

Somebody tell me what sort of stuff you’d like to see posted here today.

‘When My Work Ain’t So Much Fun’ (2017)

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The Democrat establishment has kneecapped Bernie Sanders (again!), but his ideas have saturated the party. The only question between them was “Which do we prefer–stealth socialism or openly-declared socialism?”

When My Work Ain’t So Much Fun

We are paying the real price now for years and years of letting leftists and idiots “educate” our children. Escaping the consequences of this folly will be extraordinarily difficult.

I read things like Bernie Sanders’ book so I can understand where the enemy is coming from and try to mobilize Christians against his plan.

Not an enjoyable job; but someone has to do it.

‘The Daughter of Time’

The Daughter of Time: Josephine Tey, Derek Jacobi: 9781602836440: Books

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey has been called one of the greatest mystery novels ever written, and it lives up to that billing. It also gives us plenty to think about.

“History” has it that Richard III was a humpbacked monster who murdered his innocent nephews, among other crimes. Josephine Tey has a hospitalized police detective and a research assistant delve into the matter as if it were a modern police investigation: and what they find is that almost the entire history of Richard, almost everything that people “know” about him… is flat-out false. And can be proven to be false!

That’s a major theme of this book. How do things that are demonstrably untrue get entered into the record as “true”, and why do they remain in the record even after they’ve been shown to be untrue–shown again and again, in some cases?

Richard was overthrown and killed in battle by Henry Tudor, Henry VII, father of that bloodthirsty king, Henry VIII. Henry Tudor had all the motivation in the world to destroy Richard’s reputation and plenty of rascals to help him do it. Even Shakespeare! So we know how Richard’s name got blackened, and we know whodunnit. What we don’t know is why it stayed blackened: Josephine Tey was only one of many historical inquirers who exploded the myth.

Lies can have a long shelf life.

Can you imagine what will be done to President Trump’s reputation, should Democrats win this coming election (God forbid)? Can you imagine the lurid tall tales about him that’ll wind up in the “history” textbooks?

The truth about Richard III has been available for many years now.  But the lies are all still there.

We Still Need to Laugh

Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best: The Collected Blandings Short ...

Well, that last post snuffed out my little flicker of optimism. On to something different!

A good laugh helps us keep our sanity. Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best, by P.G. Wodehouse, is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Just thinking about it begins to raise my spirits.

It’s a collection of stories featuring the addled mind of Clarence, Lord Emsworth, and his batty neighbors and relations. The stories are full of gems like this:

“There was a sharp clicking noise in the darkness. It was caused by Angela’s upper front teeth meeting her lower front teeth; and was followed by a sort of wordless exhalation. It seemed only too plain that the love and respect which a niece should have for an uncle were in the present instance at a very low ebb.”

When the central character of the stories owns “an IQ some 30 points below that of an absent-minded jellyfish” (Wodehouse was being charitable), all sorts of odd things happen. The earl is aided and abetted in creating ridiculous situations by his domineering sister, Constance, and his scatterbrained wastrel of a son, Freddie.

As gorgeous and as loony as the humor in these stories is, it’s never mean, never nasty. That was the author’s gift: we love these goofy characters in spite of their incurable goofiness. It’s not a flattering picture of the English upper class, but it’s not exactly the Three Stooges throwing pies, either. It’s just unique.

See? I feel better now! And so will you, if you visit the earl at Blandings Castle.

Oh–and the BBC Blandings series, based on the books, is screamingly funny, too.

Inside the Madhouse

Inside the Yankees: The Championship Year: Ed Linn: 9780345276414 ...

If you don’t know or care about baseball, and turn around and leave the room if pro sports are on TV, that’s OK–but stay with me. Because this “baseball book” is really about something much more interesting (and morbidly entertaining): how people in an organization drive each other nuts, leading to irrational and counterproductive decisions.

Yeahbut, yeahbut! The Yankees won the championship anyway, didn’t they? So they couldn’t have done anything that wrong.

They won in spite of all the craziness. Besides, the teams they were playing against surely had their own corporate kookiness.

So it’s all here: the clash of bloated egos, gossip and backbiting, unbelievably stupid quotes that get out there in the media and cheese everybody off, spite galore, and individuals doing really dumb things just to show each other who’s boss. And you begin to wonder, “These are grown men? Really? Men who are allowed to vote and drive cars?”

But the foolishness that went on inside the Yankees can be found inside a business, big or small, inside a political party at any level, in an army, in a freakin’ fishing club, churches, softball teams–wherever people get together to rub each other the wrong way. And most of them are otherwise rational people who never would’ve gotten anywhere at all if they’d acted like this all the time. And did I mention that it only takes two people to make a messed-up organization? If it could be done solo, it would be.

The Bible warns us not to put our trust in man, whose breath is in his nostrils. Original Sin doesn’t have to confine itself to starting World War II: the devil’s just as happy with a one-on-one pissing contest.


A Good Day, After All

The Golden Treasury of Natural History by Bertha Morris Parker ...

I’m running late today, but I’ve just got to tell you–we have alcohol! Calloo, callay, O frabjous day! Our neighbor, Josh, gave us a bottle. I love you, man!

And then my birthday present showed up a week early–The Golden Treasury of Natural History, by Bertha Morris Parker. O, wonderful!

This was my favorite book, as a boy. As I was very young, I loved some of its pictures so much (especially the dinosaurs) that I cut them out of the book for use as toys. *Sigh* I won’t do that again! I’ve just spent a whole hour going through it, page by page, to revisit all those pictures that I loved so much and remember so well. Ah, that glorious illustration of the plesiosaur (see above)! Long live Bertha Morris Parker–she ignited my mind.

And now I’ve got to put away the computer so we can watch a nice relaxing mystery or horror movie.

‘My Interview (Maybe)’

I found this in the archives yesterday and thought you might enjoy it: me being interviewed by Grant Warren in By the Fireplace, in 2016. The link to the interview is embedded in the link below.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever be happy with the way I do an interview, but I try, I try. I’d much rather hear somebody fantastically famous and universally loved coming on the air in prime time to extol my books–but I’m afraid I’ll have to settle for… me.

Anyway, it’s in God’s hands.


Book Review: ‘Murder Must Advertise’

This is as good a time as any to catch up on one’s reading. And if you like murder mysteries, you’ll probably love Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers, featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. He goes undercover in an advertising agency, posing as a junior copywriter as he tries to solve the crime.

To show you how much writers know, Dorothy Sayers considered this gem “not one of my better efforts.” We beg to differ.

The only problem with this story is that the background setting, the advertising agency, is more fascinating than the murder. I kept finding myself forgetting there was a murder to be solved, I was so intrigued by the actions and interactions in the agency. Sayers actually worked for an advertising agency for almost ten years, so she was writing about something she knew intimately. All these captivating characters! I could hardly wait to see what each of them would do next.

Advertising copywriters try to persuade people to buy things they may not really want, and do things that they may not want to do. Sort of like politics. How they go about it is an absorbing study in itself. It was so interesting, I didn’t want the book to end. Murder, schmurder–how do you get people to buy and smoke those not-really-all-that-good cigarettes?

I do love a good detective story, and the Wimsey series is classic, top of the line. As an interesting side note, Margery Allingham created her own aristocratic detective, Albert Campion, as a parody of Wimsey. Her books turned out to be so popular that they kept her busy writing them for many years. I like them almost as much as I like the Wimseys.

Books like these make time pass unnoticed, and pleasurably. It’s why they’re still popular today. If you need a nice distraction, you can’t do better than Murder Must Advertise.

‘The Osteenification of America’ (2014)

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Would you buy a used religion from this man?

One of the things that has gone wrong for Christianity throughout the Western world is its adulteration with non-Christian, anti-Christian poobah. And no one has done more to adulterate it than good ol’ grinnin’, gruntin’, Joel Osteen.

Hank Hanegraaff (“The Bible Answer Man” on Christian radio) skinned Osteen alive in this little book he wrote in 2014. You can read it in a sitting. It’s important because, if you think about it, you very likely know someone who’s been listening to Joel Osteen and thinks he’s the bee’s knees.

Shame on us who never read the Bible and don’t know what it says. Shame on us who do know, but never speak up to defend it. Shame on the Church for letting itself be thinned out and eroded.

We really do have to do better.

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