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Book Reviews

Flying Colors Jonathan Danilowitz politics civil rights Israel gay rightsFlying Colors
By Jonathan Danilowitz
Smashwords 2012, 111 pp.

Flying Colors is a deeply personal account by Jonathan Danilowitz of coming to terms with his own homosexuality after years of in-the-closet self-criticism. It's also a very political book, covering one of the most publicized civil rights cases of the 1990s -- one in which Danilowitz played a key role. An unlikely activist, Danilowitz takes us through the formative accomplishments of the gay rights movement and opening our eyes to just how different our society was only a few years ago. This thoughtful, emotion-packed book is a stark reminder of just how much progress has been made in so little time; but also, how much effort it took for the activists to get us here.

The story begins with Danilowitz, a Jew growing up in South Africa under the Apartheid regime, where our protagonist begins at a very young age to get an idea of how irrational hatred divides humanity. He is forbidden by his parents from playing with his black friend in public,...More >>

War
By Sebastian Junger
Twelve 2010, 304 pp.

From the first page, Sebastian Junger's War immerses the reader into the world of the soldiers in what has been dubbed “the most dangerous place on the planet” by President H.W. Bush: Afghanistan's Korengal Valley.

Fear, the first section of the book, establishes the necessary groundwork about the soldiers' thoughts on fighting an armed conflict and their emotions before and during battle. “Combat jammed so much adrenaline through your system that fear was rarely an issue; far more indicative of real courage was how you felt before the big operations, when the implications of losing your life really had a chance to sink in.”

Killing, in part two, explores the fundamental reason why soldiers kill and their reactions when that action is committed on one of their own. When Clinard, an infantryman, sees his commander lying lifeless at the top of a hill, he “stays bent double as if he's just finished a race and moans... in his strangle animal way”.

The final portion of the book, Love, is the most profound and chilling sections in the book. Like Junger so adroitly puts it: “The Army might screw you and your...More >>

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
Mark Steyn
Regnery Publishing

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon is pretty much exactly what you would expect from the fellow who brought you America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.

In After America we pick up where the end of the world left off in Steyn's last book: Europe and much of the rest of the Western world is still in demographic upheaval and financial crisis. America is fast joining its declining neighbors in a race to the bottom. 

In Steyn's words, "It starts with the money." As he lays it out, the United States is being buried under a mountain of debt that it has no hope of ever paying off, at least at the current rate it is spending money and maintaining its entitled, ever-growing, unaccountable bureaucratic class. What shrinking amount of working class America is left to pay the bills can't possibly hope to keep up. The border to the south is getting hazier every day, the education system is churning out dumber and dumber students, and things show no sign of getting better anytime soon. 

Cheery, right? Well, it gets worse....More >>

Mark Steyn After America Get Ready for Armageddon bookMark Steyn, writer, polemicist, sometime-guest host for Rush Limbaugh, and all-around darling of the right, has a new book out that some of our more conservative Allies may be adding to their reading list.

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon - not to be confused with Mark Steyn's previous apocalyptic tome, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It - officially launched last week. Its topic? The collapse of Western society. In its own words

In his New York Times bestseller America Alone, Steyn warned of the impending collapse of just about every country in the western world except America. The good news is the rest of the west’s demise is still on schedule. The bad news is America has now signed up for the same program, supersized. And, unlike AIG, Fannie Mae, Detroit and Greece, the United States is big enough to fail, and spectacularly so. If, like Mark, you want to avoid that fate, then After America is the book for you. It starts with the money,

...More >>

Francis Fukuyama the Origins of Political Order philosophy democracy freedom Arab Spring European EnlightenmentThe Origins of Political Order:
From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

By Francis Fukuyama
Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 585 pp, 2011

The Arab Spring -- that grab-bag of street protests, popular uprisings, and outright civil war that has flared across parts of the Middle East since early March -- was greeted with no small measure of excitement by observers in the West. After a post-9/11 decade spent worrying that places like Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia were infested with terrorist cells or training camps, their governments poised to fall into the hands of Islamist radicals, the idea that the citizens of these states might rise up against the autocrats in the name of secular values of freedom and democracy came as a tremendous, magnificent surprise.

One undercurrent to the ecstasy was a subtle but distinctily Whiggish sense that, well, it was about time. While the most of the rest of world had spent the last few centuries going through the expected evolution in liberty, prosperity, and representative government, the Arab states...More >>

Come from the Shadows Terry Glavin Afghanistan books"Come from the Shadows" should surely become required reading for every politician, journalist, soldier, NGO worker, activist or interested observer who wants to understand Afghanistan's struggle against tyranny, slavery and misogyny -- and how the international community can help.

Far from the Taliban’s grim desert strongholds, the country we visit with Terry Glavin is a surprisingly welcoming place, hidden away in alleys and narrow streets that bustle with blacksmiths, gem hawkers and spice merchants. This is the unseen Afghanistan, reawakening from decades of savagery and bloodletting.

 

Glavin shows us how events have unfolded in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. Travelling with fluent interpreters and Afghan human rights activists, Glavin meets people from many walks of life—key political figures, teachers, journalists, farmers, students, burqa-shrouded women and soccer players—and in these pages they speak for themselves. And in the life story of Afghan-Canadian writer, translator and activist Abdul Rahim Parwani, he finds the story of Afghanistan’s agonies over the past 30 years.

...More >>

mufti of jerusalem and the Nazis Berlin Years Klaus GensickeThe Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis
The Berlin Years

By Klaus Gensicke
Vallentine Mitchell 2011 (English translation), 301 pp.

We often hear from advocates of the Palestinian Arab cause the argument that the post-war establishment of Israel was unfair to the Arabs. Since the Arabs played no part in the mass murder of Jews during the Second World War (the argument goes), they ought not to pay the cost of what Europe had done to the Jews.

Gensicke documents the efforts of the Mufti of Jerusalem to contribute to this mass murder. He demolishes the claim that Arabs had no share in that crime.

Gensicke notes that Yasser Arafat and Amin al Husseini were not only related by blood. Arafat continued the legacy of the Mufti. Both Palestinian leaders were devoted to terrorism and fanaticism. As late as August 2, 2002 the Peace Nobel Prize winner Arafat referred to the Mufti as a “hero” and an inspiring symbol in “withstanding world pressure” and remaining “an Arab...More >>

The Propagandist magazine, political commentary, news, book reviewsThe Propagandist bears these latest travails with an unbowed spirit. It has been a week from hell. But we shall overcome.

The Mad Dog of the Middle East made a comeback and a complete rout of the Libyan rebels was only prevented last night by a United Nations resolution that has once more put Gaddafi's back to the wall. Meanwhile, Japan's nuclear facilities are still at grave risk of a meltdown, threatening not only the stalwart Japanese but perhaps the wider world as well. And throughout the week, the unapologetic response of some Palestinian groups and many so-called "human rights" activists to the unforgivable terror of the Itamar massacre in Israel shows off the heights of hypocrisy and hatred. 

Here are some of the top recent stories from The Propagandist.

Farzana Hassan, former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, set out to write a book that would, in her words, “challenge young Muslim minds”, urging a re-examination of “traditionally held views, often rooted in classical jurisprudence that have come to be part of the entrenched narrative of Islam.” Hassan has a lot of misgivings over this narrative, which she straightforwardly interrogates in her book, “Islam, Women and the Challenges of Today.”

This is probably the right moment to disclose what I suppose constitutes a bias in reviewing a book about faith, which would be my lack of it—of the Mohammedan brand or otherwise. And worse, my atheism is not just personal, but political in that I am convinced that religion is frequently ridiculous, and often dangerous. I tend to agree with Sam Harris that religion is easily “the most prolific source of violence in our history” (2004). I can’t take seriously something I’ve seen no evidence for, and I agree with those who point out that there is much in the Qu’ran that is pretty near impossible to interpret in kinder light no...More >>

transforming fire rise of the israel islamist conflict hezbollah jonathan spyer gaza politics middle eastThe Transforming Fire
The Rise Of The Israel-Islamist Conflict

By Jonathan Spyer
Continuum 2010, 240 pp.

NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher was bang on when he recently wrote that “Israel has to be the most analyzed yet least understood country in the world.” There is a mountain of literature, and more added to it every day, examining Israel’s many challenges. Whether the issue is one of diplomacy, domestic politics, or the security situation, you can bet there are a dozen thoughtful books and countless articles on the specific topic in question. We have access to endless resources that help us comprehend the trends affecting the region in general, and the pressures confronting Israel in particular.

But can the same be said when it comes to understanding Israelis themselves? The very literature that illuminates the processes, patterns, and policies that shape the region and Israel’s place in it can often, ironically, leave us in the dark when it comes to what really makes Israelis tick.

Thankfully, Jonathan Spyer has given...More >>

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