In brief: Dorothy Rabinowitz's "No Crueler Tyrannies" and the "Touchstone Reader."Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By
Books in Brief
No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times by Dorothy Rabinowitz (Free Press, 256 pp., $25). The term "witch hunt" has been used so often--and so inaccurately--that one automatically mistrusts it these days. Yet one recent set of events does bear a striking resemblance to the Salem trials: the hysteria over sexual abuse of children in day-care centers that frenzied the nation in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In "No Crueler Tyrannies," the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz presents several of the most famous cases. All of them depended solely on the testimony of children, some as young as four. And all of them included a quantity and bizarreness of charges unlike anything seen before. In Massachusetts, for example, Gerald Amirault and his mother and sister were accused of performing ritualistic sex acts on hundreds of children--many of them in front of the school and often involving a big silver robot. Most of the defendants Rabinowitz chronicles were eventually released. But Gerald Amirault recently lost yet another appeal when Governor Jane Swift overruled her own Board of Pardons and Paroles' recommendation.
Rabinowitz's book will rightly elicit outrage from her readers--stemming in no small part from her sense that, under the right circumstances, anyone could find himself in the plight of her helpless subjects. She narrates "No Crueler Tyrannies" solely from the perspective of the defendants, and while this makes engrossing reading, it does limit the book. Rabinowitz presents compelling evidence--particularly transcripts that show young witnesses manipulated by psychologists with leading questions--but one would like some exposure to the other side. If, as she acknowledges, most of the prosecutors involved still believe that "children had been assaulted and terrorized," one would like to know why.
Rabinowitz could also have made use of new literature concerning the unreliability of child witnesses, particularly in sex-abuse cases. Psychologists Stephen Ceci and Maggie Bruck, among others, have written extensively on the subject. Still, "No Crueler Tyrannies" is an astonishingly frightening book, and it raises the question that we must face, sooner or later: How can such witch hunts happen?
Creed and Culture: A Touchstone Reader, edited by James M. Kushiner (ISI, 239 pp., $15). When C.S. Lewis popularized the phrase "Mere Christianity," he stated explicitly that he didn't want to create a sort of Third Way religiosity. Instead, he used the metaphor of a hallway for his description of the basic, shared tenets of Christianity, telling readers he could take them into the hallway, but it was up to them to choose a door among the existing religious traditions and step through.
Touchstone magazine bills itself as "A Journal of Mere Christianity." Published ten times a year by a cast of conservative Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox, it tries to pursue a shared social agenda and to plumb the depths of the traditions that feed the agenda. Issue by issue, the results are a little mixed. But "Creed and Culture," a book-length anthology from the magazine's first decade, is consistently good.
The book is self-consciously literary, reprinting Russell Kirk on T.S. Eliot's "After Strange Gods," Thomas Howard on "Brideshead Revisited," and James L. Sauer's surprising essay about Whittaker Chambers's translation of "Bambi."
The Touchstone crew's reflexive response to liberalism--social, philosophical, or theological--is to beat the stuffing out of it. In an essay on scientism, Huston Smith sets out five propositions to return theology to its place as the Queen of the Sciences. James R. Edwards closes the collection with a haymaker against the popular Jesus seminar.
Readers who like their coffee strong--and who are interested in literature, theology, ecclesiology, and ecumenism--will love "Creed and Culture." But even us decaf types will find in it much to ponder.
Anthony Swofford's tales of battle in the Gulf. Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By MAX BOOT
A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
by Anthony Swofford
Amitai Etzioni on his life and times.Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By ARNOLD BEICHMAN
My Brother's Keeper
A Memoir and a Message
by Amitai Etzioni
Bill Clinton's military aide tells all.Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By BENJAMIN SCHEMMER
Dereliction of Duty
The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Endangered America's National Security
by Robert Patterson
In brief: John T. Noonan on the High Court and Michael Kochin on gender in Plato.Dec 30, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 16 • By
BOOKS IN BRIEF
Narrowing the Nation's Power: The Supreme Court Sides with the States by John T. Noonan Jr. (University of California Press, 208 pp., $24.95).
A SLIM MAJORITY of the Supreme Court has over the past decade expanded states' immunities against federal authority. These decisions are the target of John T.
Our holiday gift to you: We offer our choices for books to enjoy over the holidays or to consider as last-minute gift ideas.11:00 PM, Dec 19, 2002 • By
Editor's Note: We'll be on hiatus for the holidays, so next week, we'll be posting some of our favorite recent pieces from both The Weekly Standard and The Daily Standard--some holiday-related, some not. Enjoy, and have a terrific and safe holiday season!
William Kristol, editor
READ ANYTHING by the greatest living American comic writer (besides Andy Ferguson), Donald E. Westlake.
In brief: Novels by Joel Rosenberg and Richard Dooling and Bill Wyman's Rolling Stones tome.Dec 16, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 14 • By
BOOKS IN BRIEF
The Last Jihad
by Joel C. Rosenberg
Forge, 304 pp., $24.95
AMID THE HEMMING AND HAWING about how to confront Saddam Hussein, Joel Rosenberg, former aide to Steve Forbes and Benjamin Netanyahu, uses fiction to convey the threat Iraq poses to international security. Though the picture painted by Rosenberg is disconcerting, the possibilities he raises are real.
Several years after Bush completes his second term and his successful war on terror, another popular Republican president is surfing a surging economy and unprecedented domestic security.
From the September 22, 2002 Washington Times: A new book on film editing finally gives the great Walter Murch his due.12:00 AM, Sep 26, 2002 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
THE MOVIE INDUSTRY is peculiar for many reasons, among which is this: The least important and most interchangeable artists in the community (actors) are the best known and rewarded, while the most-skilled and least replaceable artists (writers and editors) are virtually anonymous. To wit: Everyone in America knows who Adam Sandler is.
Michael Oren's authoritative account of the Six Day War--and its legacy.Jun 10, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 38 • By AMITAI ETZIONI
Six Days of War
June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
by Michael B. Oren
Oxford University Press, 446 pp., $30
IN "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East," Michael B. Oren gives a meticulous, blow-by-blow history of what is, unfortunately, an old-fashioned kind of war.
Just before the short but decisive conflict, Egypt had closed the Straits of Tiran and demanded the removal of the United Nations forces that were serving as buffers in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
John Esposito struggles to sanitize Islamic thought.May 27, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 36 • By STANLEY KURTZ
Terror in the Name of Islam
by John L. Esposito
Oxford University Press, 196 pp., $25
OSAMA BIN LADEN may be hunkered down, half-starved in some Pakistani village right now, yet he continues to sow considerable confusion among America's leftist academics.
Take, for example, John L. Esposito, founding director of Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, past president of the Middle East Studies Association, and foreign-affairs analyst for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at President Clinton's State Department.
The dissonant life and times of Charlie Mingus.May 6, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 33 • By HARRY SIEGEL
Tonight at Noon
A Love Story
by Sue Graham Mingus
Pantheon Books, 288 pp., $24
FOR MANY, the name Charlie Mingus conjures the image of a goatee-sporting, jive-talking jazz bassist and composer, a mixture of New York beatnik and Angry Black Man. Mingus was all of those things. He hung out with Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, denounced the white race, and worked at moving past the cant and sentimentality of a racially defined identity.
All the way with LBJ.Apr 29, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 32 • By ROBERT D. NOVAK
Master of the Senate
The Years of Lyndon Johnson
by Robert A. Caro
Knopf, 1,167 pp., $35
IT HAS BEEN twelve years since publication of "Means of Ascent," the second volume of Robert Caro's "The Years of Lyndon Johnson," but the long-anticipated third volume, "Master of the Senate," is worth the wait.
An autopsy of socialism.Apr 22, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 31 • By FRED SIEGEL
Heaven on Earth
The Rise and Fall of Socialism
by Joshua Muravchik
Encounter, 417 pp., $27.95
Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries 1776-1871
by Adam Zamoyski
Viking, 512 pp., $34.95
THERE ARE TWO KINDS of radical: the consolable and the inconsolable. The consolables are those whose grievances can--at least in theory--be addressed, while the inconsolables are those whose rage admits no limits. The 1970s terrorist "Carlos the Jackal" is a good example of an inconsolable.
The uneasy friendship of Truman and EisenhowerApr 1, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 28 • By MICHAEL BARONE
Harry & Ike
The Partnership that Remade the Postwar World
by Steve Neal
Scribner, 324 pp., $26
"HARRY & IKE," Steve Neal's book on the relations between Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, might well have had a second subtitle--"Great Presidents Behaving Badly." It tells two stories. The first is the collaboration of two able and dedicated public officials in launching the United States on its victorious course in the Cold War, and without whom that struggle might have taken quite a different course.