Patrick J. Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed

Much ink has been spilled since 2016 on the subject of liberalism’s demise, but nothing I have yet read surpasses Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed (2018) in insightfulness or force of argument. In measured language, and with requisite restraint, Deneen […]

Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea

Every new foray I make into the works of Yukio Mishima, Japan’s worst-kept literary secret, expands my appreciation for him as a writer of great conviction. He was a man at odds with his time, a vocal critic of post-war […]

William Ophuls’ Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail

William Ophuls was a recent discovery of mine, and reading him made me deeply grateful for the introduction. He is a political scientist by training, with degrees from Princeton and Yale, but an ecologist in practice, one of the earliest […]

Helen Andrews’ Boomers

Rarely do I pre-order a book, but in the case of Helen Andrews, presently the senior editor of The American Conservative and one of the brightest young writers at work today, exceptions must be made. I have long enjoyed her […]

Mircea Eliade’s A History Of Religious Ideas (Vol.3)

In my ongoing effort to better acquaint myself with religious thought, I have arrived at the final volume of Mircea Eliade’s sweeping A History Of Religious Ideas, covering not only the appearance of Islam and the inevitable clashes with Christianity, […]

Eric Newby’s The Last Grain Race

In the Penn’s Landing port of Philadelphia harbour, there is docked a beautiful, four-masted ship, one of the last remaining “windjammer” commercial sailing ships that traversed the world’s oceans bringing grain and other goods. Today, she is a floating restaurant, […]

Simone Weil’s Selected Essays, 1934-1943

Simone Weil is one of the most impressive and interesting 20th century intellectuals, and sadly, until very recently, one of the most overlooked. She was born into a prosperous agnostic Jewish family in Paris in 1909, achieved fluency in Ancient […]

David M. Buss’ The Evolution Of Desire

A conspicuous and disturbing fact about the modern world is that full participation in it demands we accede to a growing number of lies. The mildest dissent is met with stigma and ostracism and character assassination, which is perhaps less […]

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

Dostoevsky’s final novel and undisputed masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, was completed in late 1880, less than half a year before his own death. It could not have been otherwise. This one book is a summa of his entire life’s investigation […]

Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone

Before I had heard of Daniel Woodrell, I saw and enjoyed the movie Winter’s Bone, based on his 2006 novel of the same name. I wasn’t alone: audiences and film critics all over the world warmed to the plight of […]

Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy

In the past few years, I have spent a great deal of time reading about wretched societies: Russia under Lenin and Stalin, Cambodia under Pol Pot, and China under Mao, to name just three. After a certain point, the tales […]

Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin

The most disturbing book I read in 2020 was Curzio Malaparte’s semi-fictional account of the liberation of Naples between 1943 and 1945. I say “semi-fictional” despite the fact that Malaparte (real name Curt Erich Suckert) was really there, both as […]

Ernst Jünger’s The Storm Of Steel

I have a special fascination with war. My grandfather fought in World War I, and two of his sons – my uncles – served in World War II. I think of them every time I read a war novel or memoir, […]

Ryszard Kapuściński’s Travels With Herodotus

Of the many faults I could charge myself with, a preference for familiarity and mundanity, for the comfort of routine, troubles me the most, the more so as many of my closest family members are inveterate travellers and novelty seekers, […]

Allan Gurganus’ White People

At the close of every year, I survey the neat stacks of books that represent the last twelve months of reading, and take stock of what I’ve read, reminiscing over the writers whose worlds I lived in. One of the […]