Books

"Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean"

Steven Horwitz, following Mike Munger, eviscerates Professor MacLean's book.

MacLean’s own responses and the unwillingness of so many other progressive historians and scholars to call her out on her obvious scholarly transgressions are very sad outcomes. A serious attempt to engage public choice theory by progressive scholars would have been welcome, as would a subsequent exchange that involved more than progressives taking legitimate scholarly criticisms as coordinated attacks and then shouting “Koch!” as if that were an answer to said criticisms. Such a conversation will have to await the publication of a different book. 


"Passage to Israel"

The creator of a book of photographs of Israel discusses the reaction to the book

It turns out that it’s hard to protest beauty. Beauty bypasses ideology and goes straight to the soul. Beauty can’t be fabricated; it can’t be used as part of a false narrative, a rewriting of history.

(As I write the book is getting 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.)


"Book Review: Russell Redenbaugh's 'Shift the Narrative'"

Mr. Redenbaugh sounds like an amazing guy.

Eight months later, and after countless surgeries on his partially working eye, Redenbaugh heard the verdict on his remaining sight as told to his inconsolable mother: “We have done all that we can do.  He will be blind for the rest of his life.” What’s amazing is how the patient responded to news that would perhaps cause most to give up.  Redenbaugh was relieved.


"Grocery Stores: An American Miracle"

Interview with Michael Ruhlman about his new book, Grocery: the Buying and Selling of Food. I absolutely agree that the modern American supermarket is a marvel, far too easily taken for granted.

The thing I see most now is just the extraordinary bounty of what’s in a grocery store. We tend to walk by so many different things without thinking of them, just grabbing what we typically grab, but now I see the bewildering variety of foods that are available to us not just occasionally but seven days a week, pretty much whenever we want them. It’s something of a miracle that we created a system like this where we have nutritious food available to us all the time, at a relatively low, reasonable cost. I didn’t expect to appreciate grocery stores as much as I do now.

Also see this: a recent survey indicates that supermarket chains rank first in "how well companies are perceived by their customers".


"The Hidden Realities of U.S. Incarceration"

Some information here I did not know.

The truth, by contrast, is that about half of prisoners were convicted of violent offenses, and that some of the others committed violence but pleaded guilty to lesser offenses. Even the fifth of prisoners who are locked up for drugs tend to be mid-level dealers, not users or low-level distributors. And, while decades-long sentences make the news, most prisoners who committed crimes not involving the most serious violence are out within a year or two. In other words, while incarceration has undoubtedly soared—even relative to crime, which has dropped substantially since the early 1990s—our propensity to throw people in prison has simply not reached the heights of ridiculousness that many assume.