Book Review: Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung

Significant cultural and, yes, racial differences gave rise to America stereotyping Asians as mysterious or inscrutable. While that shibboleth has justifiably faded over the years, we still occasionally find aspects of Asia enigmatic. But when it comes to North Korea “WTF?!” seems regularly justified. And although Jang Jin-Sung’s memoir of his life and escape from [...]

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Book Review: Duel with the Devil by Paul Collins

Hamilton and Burr. Sounds like a law firm you might see advertised on television. And they were lawyers. But that’s not what really ties these two men together. They are Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. For history buffs, the names may bring to mind the ongoing political battles in the 1790s between Hamilton, the nation’s [...]

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Book Review: Secret Lives of the Tsars by Michael Farquhar

As the recent July 4 holiday reminded, America isn’t fond of royalty — unless they’re showing up in the celebrity gossip. In fact, the Declaration of Independence lays out a laundry list of what King George III did to establish an “absolute tyranny” in the colonies. But he never went so far as to kick [...]

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The Declaration of Independence in plain American

I’ve long been a fan of H.L. Mencken, the iconoclastic journalist and critic of the early 20th Century. Just last summer I read A Religious Orgy in Tennessee, a collection of his coverage of the “Scopes Monkey Trial” for the Baltimore Evening Sun. That’s why I was surprised this week to discover I was unaware [...]

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Book Review: No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal

Black and white thinking just doesn’t work in a gray labyrinth. That’s why America — and the Soviet Union earlier — struggled in seeking to fashion Afghanistan’s government and politics. Perhaps there should be a rule requiring Afghanistan be colored gray on any map as a warning about how gray and tangled it is. At [...]

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Book Review: Imagine There’s No Heaven by Mitchell Stephens

Everyone knows curiosity killed the proverbial cat. Yet it likely also is responsible for the death of God, at least in many people. Although that death may not have been premeditated, it is the result of a natural human tendency to seek explanations. Moreover, Mitchell Stephens suggests, were it not for atheist thought, Western civilization [...]

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