Category Archives: Books
John R. Houk
© May 13, 2013
Fjordman produces a favorable book review of Ricardo Duchesne’s historical tome “The Uniqueness of Western Civilization”. I checked out the price and it is a bit spendy on Amazon. I found it amazing Duchesne’s book is $268.60 in paperback and less in hardback at $133.97 to as much as $366.79 through online vendor Amazon. Even the $133 price tag is a bit much for me. I think I might have gone as high $60 with the Fjordman book review. O well, as Doris Day used to sing – Que Sera Sera. I’ll keep looking and eventually I’ll find a used version that is more in my price range.
Let me leave you with one thought that I think I gleaned from Fjordman’s book review. Western Civilization is unique because the culture bred individuals that had the wander lust to discover what is over the unknown horizon. This unknown horizon is more than just exploration for new lands but also the exploration of new concepts because someone had the audacity to think outside the well accepted box to find something that brought innovation to humanity.
The Cold War for most Americans was an invisible war. The most visible part of the Cold War was the image of a threat of a nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union. Being a Baby Boomer I remember the grade school drills of hiding under your school room desk if an alarm was sounded for a nuclear strike (as if that would protect us J ). I also remember being told to be aware of bomb shelters to flee to if some kind of eerie alarm went off for protection from radiation.
SIDE BAR: Writing about bomb shelters: I grew up in Washington State. In the Sixties during the days in which nuclear war seemed a very perceptive possibility, air raid horns would go off as a test.
I eventually grew up and married as the story goes. After college I dragged the family to Oklahoma for further education. Low and behold one morning I heard what sounded like an air raid horn going off. After my Sixties indoctrination I kind of freaked thinking that in the Eighties Reagan had made somebody in the Soviet Union angry. It was a freaky feeling.
After I dashed outside and saw everyone calmly do what one does on a Saturday morning, I calmed down a bit. I asked a kid playing outside why those horns went off. The kid looked at me like I fell off the moon and said that was a tornado alarm practice run. I found out where disaster is always possible they practice the alarms. I felt like a dork. END SIDE BAR.
By Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali
W.W. Norton, $35, 640 pages
REVIEWED BY ARNOLD BEICHMAN
In the spring of 1960, Nikita Khrushchev, then ruler of all the Russias, headed the Soviet delegation to the United Nations. One morning as the Filipino delegate addressing the U.N. General Assembly was denouncing Soviet imperialism, an infuriated Khrushchev raced down the aisle, onto to the rostrum, brusquely shoved the Filipino speaker away from the microphone and shouted some words at him in Russian.
A U.N. news correspondent at the time, I was listening to the simultaneous English translation on earphones when suddenly I heard the translator, who was trying to keep up with Khrushchev’s vituperation, blurt out the English phrase, "this jerk."
We all rushed down to the interpreter’s booth and when he was freed up, we asked him what was the Russian word for "jerk." The interpreter replied that he didn’t dare use the English word for Khrushchev’s Russian. He told us what the word was in English and, of course, we couldn’t use it in our newspaper dispatches.
I open with this anecdote to illustrate my opinion of this awful man with the porcine visage. Khrushchev was a man with no sense of dignity whatsoever, which is what happens when you toady to a Stalin for decades and at his bidding kill without conscience.
This was the man who in 1962 brought the world as close to a nuclear war as hasn’t happened since. That crisis occurred because Khrushchev planted missiles in Cuba targeted at the American mainland hoping to bluff the United States into humiliating surrender.
President Kennedy was not to be bluffed and Khrushchev retreated ignominiously. Even Communist China criticized him for what they called his "adventurism." Two years after this defeat, Khrushchev was cashiered by his own Politburo.
In "Khrushchev’s Cold War," Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali write that "What is indisputable is that once Khrushchev dropped his pressure strategy in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis, the superpower struggle became more predictable and less dangerous …"
The authors, who published the Cuban missile crisis classic, "One Hell of a Gamble," have had access to Politburo and Soviet intelligence materials and so their report has a gripping authenticity. They show that Khrushchev’s "coercive diplomacy," his pressure tactics, especially his ultimatums to President Eisenhower to get out of Berlin, didn’t work and why. Those tactics cost Russia dearly because they spurred a great United States military buildup and made the idea of peaceful coexistence a chimera, say the authors.
There are two important omissions in this otherwise exemplary Cold War report. One of them is overlooking the East German worker uprising on June 17, 1953, three months after Stalin’s death. It took Soviet tanks to quell that uprising. Then came further rebellions in Poznan, Poland and in October 1956 in Hungary.
The second omission is what Khrushchev told Tito when they met in 1955 in Belgrade. The Russian dictator foreshadowed his "secret" anti-Stalin speech at the 20th Party Congress by telling the Yugoslav anti-Soviet dictator about Stalin’s iniquities.
The authors describe Khrushchev as an "impetuous and erratic man." They show that in this age of nuclear proliferation somebody like Khrushchev (for which substitute Kim Jong Il or Iran President Ahmadinejad) could incinerate the world in the name of ideology or in the name of radical Islam.
This volume is not only a fine history but it also points a warning for the years to come.
Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is a Washington Times columnist.
The Life and Religion of Mohammed
by J.L. Menezes
Father J.L. Menezes knew Islam up close: as a missionary in India, he devoted his priestly life to introducing that nation’s tens of millions of Muslims to Christianity. In The Life and Religion of Mohammed, he left us the record of his appeals: a frank, honest, and exhaustively researched exploration of the life of the "prophet" of Islam, the development and contents of the Koran, and an introduction to various Muslim sects.
Working from the earliest Islamic sources, Fr. Menezes provides a complete account of Mohammed’s life, from his days as a simple merchant to his triumphs as a leader of armies and revered prophet. Menezes delved so deeply into his subject that he was even able to describe Mohammed’s physical appearance. He explains why Mohammed couldn’t possibly be a true prophet, and reveals the true sources of his "revelations."
Fr. Menezes could be writing about today’s Muslim terrorists when he explains that "Mohammed posed as the apostle of God, the seal of the prophets; as the destroyer of idolatry; as preacher of one true God, and the reformer of morals: while his life is marked by innumerable marriages; and great licentiousness, deeds of rapine, warfare, conquests, unmerciful butcheries, all the time invoking God’s holy name to sanction his evil deeds, ordering prayers and alms deeds and at the same time propagating Islam everywhere by fire and sword."
Turning to the Koran, Fr. Menezes delineates the distinctive teachings of Islam, explaining the elements of the Muslim holy book that make it so difficult for Muslims to convert to Christianity — and showing how the Koran, when read honestly and without Islamic preconceptions, nonetheless depends upon and leads to Christianity.
The Life and Religion of Mohammed concludes with an "appeal to candor and common sense," inviting Muslims to think critically about their religion, and to embrace Christ instead. With Islam on the march everywhere and Muslims streaming into the U.S. in record numbers, the candor, common sense, and solid Christian faith of this book are needed more than ever.
Your guide into the dark mind of Mohammed includes:
- The bizarre circumstances of Mohammed’s "revelations": "it was a painful sight to behold the nervousness of his features, the distortion of his countenance and the anxiety of mind portrayed on his face"
- How worldly ambition gradually blinded Mohammed’s mind and overwhelmed his early searches for the true God
- How Mohammed borrowed many of his ideas of Paradise from contemporary Jews and Christians — and mixed them with base and lewd imaginings
- How Mohammed again and again justified his rapine and licentiousness with new "divine revelations"
- Why Mohammed adopted — and later discarded — many Jewish customs and ritual observances
- Islamic tolerance: Mohammed let Jews and Christians live in his domains — if they paid tribute and accepted second-class status
- What the Koran really teaches about Christianity and Christ
- What Mohammed learned from heretical Christian sects — and incorporated into the Koran
- The early history of Islam: just as bloody as the life of its founder
- How the Koran doesn’t limit Muslims to four wives, as is widely believed, but actually sets no real limit
- Why the new religion Mohammed taught became so commonly identified with war and politics
The hard-to-find The Life and Religion of Mohammed is now only $19.95 — a 20% savings off the publisher’s price!