I was always reading something. Whether it be the Classic Comics version of the Peleponesian war or a biography of Ataturk in a “great men” series, even as a kid, I had to be invested in some manifestation of the printed word. This was true throughout my youth and reading only became a chore rather than a necessity when I became a professional writer. When I had to read certain tracts I would otherwise have happily ignored, my relationship with the word changed big time.
My cancer diagnosis and present condition – flat on my back – sends me back in time and I’m enjoying a literary second childhood – I get to read for pleasure again. Yes, I reread the complete works of Robert Heinlein, really I did. His so-called juveniles – with their emphasis on duty, competence, and virtue – could not be published today: I especially like the one where a Boy Scout troup saves the space colony from destruction.
Returning to the works of Louis Bromfield is another advantage to being very ill and unable to do much else but read (when I’m not writing). His odes to the agrarian society, The Farm, and Pleasant Valley, are a delight for the prose alone. The politics of the Jeffersonian tradition are here exhibited in all its distinctly American simplicity.
Bromfield was a wildly successful commercial writer whose novels were the big bestsellers of the time and whose screenplays made him a fortune – which he poured into Malabar Farm, returning to the scene of his youth in Richland county, Ohio. There he experimented with new farming methods, polemicized against the New Deal’s collectivist farming policies and wrote a searing indictment of the military industrial complex, A New Pattern for a Tired World.
Right now at this moment I’m reading Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent, a venture into the vintage that is already proving all-embracing. Over 500 pages depicting life in a more stately time.
I confess to reading – or trying to read – two books at once. The Drury piece is nicely balanced out with John J. Mearsheimer’s latest, The Great Delusion, which debunks the mythology of liberalism and exposes it for the namby-pamby nonsense it is. Mearsheimer is merciless.
One book I intend to reread is the little-known novel by Henry Hazlitt, Time Will Run Back. Yes, a novel, first published in 1951, by the famous libertarian economist which is about a future dictator of the world who realizes their socialist system is a failure and proceeds to use his dictatorial powers to dismantle the old system and construct a new one – which means rediscovering the principles of the free market.
We are still awaiting Guaido’s insurrection, which so far consists of lots of talk and no action. Every day that passes with no sign that the “liberation” of Venezuela has begun and whatever credibility the opposition ever had dissipates into the air – this ongoing “regime change theater” seems to confirm my theory that the whole thing is a project meant to fail from the beginning (see Friday’s column).
The Wall Street Journal exposes how the notoriously quarrelsome opposition was duped into supporting Guaido.
These crooks are never honest and straightforward, not if they can help it.
I’m sure my readers recognize that I’ve undertaken a new and more informal style: my illness in large part dictated the change. I hope you don’t mind: I, for one, think it’s more interesting. Let me know what you think.
Walter Jones, RIP
I note with sadness the passing of Rep. Walter Jones, a special friend and contributor to Antiwar.com.
I first met him many years ago at a Chronicles magazine conference as his remarkable story of repudiation and redemption was playing out. At that conference, which was filled with serious Catholics, Jones declared that he would spend the rest of his life doing penance for his support for the Iraq war.
He more than fulfilled that vow, but I am not going to dwell on that here because I can hardly do justice to the many ways in which he kept his promise.
The world a grayer, less promising place.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.