Page by Page: Book Reviews

Thanksgiving or the Ritual of Gratitude

Giving thanks, as Melanie Kirkpatrick reminds us, is an American preoccupation, a powerful religious and civic expression of our nation. Kirkpatrick’s fear is that the left’s attempt to banish gratitude unravels our country by denying it any dimension of humanity except its quest for power.

Trick and Treat

Calling the Spirits is a nifty survey of the western world’s supposed interactions with the spirits of the dead. Lisa Morton’s book reveals that our quest for ghosts is an expression of humanity, a way to cope with how overwhelmed we are when we lose someone close to us, how unbearable it is to think that the person is gone forever.

The Non-White Shape of Things to Come

Rochelle Spencer’s “AfroSurrealism: The African Diaspora’s Surrealist Fiction” is a specific contribution to an important cultural genre and milieu. But it is also an argument for how to look at the world.

Socialism for the Twenty-first Century

The Socialist Challenge Today is an essential read. It provides “revolutionary realism” in its analyses and is free of naïveté, pessimism, and–especially–replications of revolutionary strategy frozen in amber from the twentieth century. That alone makes it a necessary addition to every socialist’s bookshelf.

Touchstone Texts: American Argument

American Argument provides historical depth in our consideration of how Blacks and Whites came together to enact the ritual of conversing across racial lines in the hope of better understanding each other. But it is remarkable how well it still speaks to us today, as aspects of that conversation have not changed. 

Fanfare for the Uncommon Man

Although Music by Max Steiner promises to be a must-read for anyone who wants an insider’s perspective on the music of Hollywood films, it also tells the tale of a semi-charmed life truly well lived.

Plato for Everyone

Frank’s book is beautifully written, elegantly presented, and compellingly argued. The reader will not necessarily agree with every thesis advanced or each reading of an individual passage proffered. But that is not the point. The point is precisely to engage in that discussion without reserve.

The Rise and Fall of Robert Kennedy’s Mission to Save America

Rising Justice is a magisterial book by a master historian, an epic sweep of Robert Kennedy and his time as a public figure. It is not a standard biography, but it has the narrative drive of a good biography. There is precious little here about Kennedy as a father, a husband, a son, just a few bits. Much testimony but little gossip. Yet one learns a great deal about Robert Kennedy person as well as Robert Kennedy the politician.