All posts filed under: Book Reviews

Red Rising (Pierce Brown)

“I would have lived in peace, but my enemies brought me war.” This is the attention-grabbing opening line of Red Rising, the first book in a popular young-adult science fiction trilogy, published between 2014 and 2016. The author, Pierce Brown, aims to draw Space Rome in roughly A.D. 3000. Within these books (the other two are Golden Son and Morning Star, and I read all three) are themes that could be fascinating, of hierarchy and oppression, of love and war, of duty and honor, of the price a man will pay to make his dreams real, of how our future should be organized. But, sadly, it’s all downhill after the first line, straight into the pit.

The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium (Martin Gurri)

As our ruling class drives the West into the ditch, from which a reborn society will probably emerge, but they and their rule will certainly not, it is natural for us to focus on elite theory—that is, who rules? This is an ancient question, although how the question is analyzed has changed with the rise of modern industrial societies. Unsurprisingly, much ink, from James Burnham to Neema Parvini, has been spilled on this important topic. Martin Gurri’s The Revolt of the Public continues the analysis, but he asks not who rules, rather how they maintain their rule, and if those mechanisms will continue.

Feminism Against Progress (Mary Harrington)

Reality, like God, will not be mocked. This is the core message of Mary Harrington’s excellent new work, Feminism Against Progress. In challenging and compelling fashion, Harrington shows how so-called feminism destroys women, body and soul. Unhinged worship of unfettered autonomy, the core demand of an insane ideology falsely sold as progress, powers this destruction. True enough, but Harrington’s aim is not mere complaint. Rather it is to tell us that both women and men can truly flourish, even in this age of liquid modernity, by building a new system — one informed by the wisdom, not of the 1950s, but of the pre-industrial age.

Rhodesian S.A.S. Combat Manual

It is common on the Right today to have conversations which five or ten years ago would have seemed insane. Notable among such discussions are those relating to violence in conditions of societal fluidity. Of late, for me, talk tends to coalesce around possible future instantiations of a social device of ancient lineage, to which I have given the new name of “armed patronage network.” A new name, for in the West the APN would be a new thing, or more precisely a new old thing. I have earlier talked briefly about APNs, but today, we will explore exactly how APNs might arise, and what that means for you.

The Holy Fire: The Story of the Fathers of the Eastern Church (Robert Payne)

It’s Lent, so let’s spend a little time away from politics. The Holy Fire, first published in 1957, when Eastern Orthodoxy had zero presence in the religious consciousness of most of America, is a beautifully-written popular history of ten towering eastern Fathers of the Church. Popular history in 1957 is not comparable to popular history in 2023, however, so this book reads like what might be an advanced college text today, if colleges studied anything worthwhile. Regardless, Payne’s book is an outstanding introduction to Orthodoxy in historical context, which is, no doubt, why St. Vladimir’s Press republished it.

Crossing the Rubicon: Caesar’s Decision and the Fate of Rome (Lucca Fezzi)

In our failing American Republic, Julius Caesar is, for many, a condensed symbol. He stands in for everything that might bring a final, formal end to institutions already dead, and he hints at what and who may open the door to something new. This broad symbolism derived from Caesar’s meteoric career, however, means that all the many details about what he actually did tend to get ignored, as do the other players in the complex political whirl of the 40s B.C. What results is, too often, comic book history, which usually is offered to buttress some facile claim about what is happening today. Lucca Fezzi’s book helps us look deeper; he offers us a detailed, balanced, and narrowly-focused political history of the end of the Republic.

Der Fragebogen (The Questionnaire) (Ernst Von Salomon)

Ernst von Salomon’s Der Fragebogen is unique, a product of the refiner’s fire, a work forged in the cataclysm of mid-twentieth-century Europe. But this once-famous, now-obscure book, published only one time in English, and that seventy years ago, still holds within its pages knowledge about both the past and the future. As to the past, from this book we can learn something completely missing from modern discourse—the complex views of 1930s and 1940s German patriots. As to the future, we can learn something more practical—methods to, in a future dispensation, help us flush Left poison completely and permanently from our body politic.

The Making of Oliver Cromwell (Ronald Hutton)

If you know anything about Oliver Cromwell—and few do nowadays— you probably have an opinion about the man. Some vilify him; “A curse upon you, Oliver Cromwell, you who raped our Motherland,” the Irish rock band The Pogues sang. Others praise him as an enemy of arbitrary rule and a proto-republican. Ronald Hutton’s new biography of Cromwell’s early life and his climb to prominence makes no final judgment on the man, but it does offer a nuanced view of this complex historical figure. From Hutton’s excellent book we get not just history but the realization, in this desiccated age, that men such as Cromwell always emerge during great turmoil, rising as if from sown dragon’s teeth.

For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews against Romans, A.D. 66–74 (Guy MacLean Rogers)

Let’s talk about the Jews. No, not about how the Jews supposedly run the world (although there is some truth buried in that claim, to which we will return). I mean about the actual Jews, the past and present people who have been, arguably, more central to the story of mankind than any other people. This book, Guy MacLean Roger’s For the Freedom of Zion, exhaustively narrates the First Jewish-Roman War, A.D. 66–74, in which the Romans defeated a Jewish revolt, and during which the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. From it we can take both fascinating history and useful thoughts for today.

On Wealth and Poverty (Saint John Chrysostom)

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be rich. I was not wealthy growing up, nor was anybody I knew. Today, however, as I state perhaps too often, I am rich. I bathe twice daily in French champagne and always cover my burgers in gold leaf. The problem is, as most everybody knows, that being rich sits very uneasily with Christian faith. At a minimum, being rich is a grave danger for a man’s soul. To gain insight into this problem, or maybe seeking reassurance, rather than rely on my personal interpretation of Scripture, which is worse than useless, I turned to one of the Fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom.