Book Reviews

Money and the Constitution

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Constitutional Money: A Review of the Supreme Court’s Monetary Decisions by Richard H. Timberlake (Cambridge University Press and Cato Institute 2013), 257 pages. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that the Federal Reserve Notes in their wallets and the balances in their various accounts are not constitutional money. Yes, what they have is money, but not the kind ... [click for more]

Lincoln-Worship Overlays the Corporatist Agenda

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Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream — and How We Can Do It Again by Rich Lowry (HarperCollins 2013), 390 pages. One of the central themes in James Scott’s Seeing Like a State is the ideology he calls “authoritarian high modernism”: It is best conceived as a strong (one might even say muscle-bound) version of ... [click for more]

How the Castle Crumbled

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Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko (Public Affairs 2013), 400 pages. “A man’s home is his castle,” the old English saying goes. Since the American Revolution, Americans’ homes have been considered sanctified space. Under the Castle Doctrine, first expressed in English common law, a person’s home — whether it’s a shack or ... [click for more]

The Great Writ

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The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror by Anthony Gregory (Independent Institute/Cambridge University Press 2013), 390 pages. Among libertarians generally, there is a somewhat dependable tendency to hark back to the halcyon days of a supposed free age somewhere in the past, and to spotlight certain related features of Anglo-American ... [click for more]

The Killing Years

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The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti (Penguin Press 2013), 400 pages. Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill (Nation Books 2013), 680 pages. The young man reached across the table and pushed the timer’s red button. Looking up ... [click for more]

Whither Power?

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The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moisés Naím (Basic Books 2013), 320 pages. The topic of Moisés Naím’s book is the decay of power — the shift of power “from brawn to brains, from north to south and west to east, ... [click for more]

The Business Cycle Explained

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It Didn’t Have to Be This Way: Why Boom and Bust Is Unnecessary — and How the Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle by Harry C. Veryser (Intercollegiate Studies Institute 2012), 318 pages. This is one instance where a book’s subtitle tells the reader much more about its content than the title does. You know at once that ... [click for more]

Revisiting Vietnam

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Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam by Nick Turse (Metropolitan Books, 2013), 386 pages. The Vietnam War polarized Americans in the 20th century like no other event, dividing the people as no war had since the so-called Civil War a century earlier. Even though Vietnam was thousands of miles away, had not attacked the United ... [click for more]

The Welfare State Exposed

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After the Welfare State, edited by Tom G. Palmer (Jameson Books, 2012), 180 pages Most Americans (indeed, most people in every advanced nation) walk around in a fog of myths and misconceptions concerning the subject of this book — the welfare state. They believe that in the absence of governmental welfare programs, there would be little or no support ... [click for more]

Manufacturing Terrorists

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The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson (Ig Publishing, 2013), 272 pages. Predators stalk Muslim-American communities across the nation today. They talk of brotherhood and of sacrifice. They talk of jihad and the duty of fellow Muslims to come to the defense of the faithful. Often they prey on the most vulnerable within ... [click for more]

Book Review: The Moral Case for a Free Economy

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Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy by Robert Sirico (Regnery Publishing, 2012), 213 pages. Critics of the free market assert that it fails the underprivileged, leads to income inequality, exploits the poor, and is at times downright cruel. They charge its defenders with being motivated by greed, selfishness, and materialism, and making a god out ... [click for more]

Book Review: Opponent of Empire

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Rome’s Last Citizen:  The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, 2012),  311 pages. A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty / is worth a whole eternity in bondage. — Joseph Addison, Cato Some of us know that the Cato Institute is named for Cato’s Letters, a series of essays ... [click for more]
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