Month: July 2023

The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe’s Bloodlands (Alexander Watson)

I suspect not one in a thousand Americans could locate Galicia, a historically-important area spanning what is now southeastern Poland and western Ukraine, on a map. To be fair, Galicia is today not on most maps, since it’s not a country, and never has been. It is, or was, a land of many ethnic groups, ruled by the Austrians from the 1700s until 1918, and before that by the Poles. In the middle of Galicia lies Przemyśl, now a Polish town near the Ukrainian border. During the early days of World War I, Przemyśl was repeatedly the scene of ferocious battles, which are the topic of Alexander Watson’s The Fortress. The history offered here is vivid and compelling, and it also usefully illuminates today’s Russo-Ukraine War.

America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything (Christopher Rufo)

Christopher Rufo has earned a stellar reputation as both analyst of, and strategist against, the poison of “critical theory.” In America’s Cultural Revolution, with verve, precision, and clarity, he explains what critical theory is, where it came from, and how, over the past fifty years, it was used by the Left to conquer America. His real target, however, is much older, because critical theory is merely the latest iteration of Left ideology, inevitably corrosive and parasitical, conceived in the Enlightenment and birthed in 1789. And, no surprise, the fruit of the Left’s latest conquest has been the same as always—the extreme degradation of a decent, productive society. Rufo’s explicit purpose is to inspire a counter-revolution. This is a tall order. After all, despite successes Rufo and his allies have had in several quarters, the Left today utterly dominates all areas of American life, not only all levels of government, directly or indirectly, but also private enterprise, education, media, culture, the military, and religious institutions. That this has led America to a dead end is irrelevant …

The Glass Bees (Ernst Jünger)

The Glass Bees, a novel by the crucial Ernst Jünger, is not directly a political work. The focus here is the relation of man to technology, especially the resulting alienation of man, not from the fruits of his labor, but from his grounding in the real. At first, this seems very different from the focus in Jünger’s “tyranny trilogy” of The Forest Passage, Eumeswil, and The Marble Cliffs (or tetralogy, if you include Heliopolis, still not translated into English). Jünger’s constant focus, however, in all these works, although with different emphases, is how a man should govern himself, regardless of the forces that push and pull him. And in these desiccated and atomized days, such a call to individual action is more needed than ever.