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A TOLERABLE ANARCHY

REBELS, REACTIONARIES, AND THE MAKING OF AMERICAN FREEDOM

For a sapient citizenry and a new administration, a graduate-level seminar on a civic philosophy that reminds us, “Freedom...

Young public intellectual considers anew some main currents in American thought.

The Founders’ call to the spirit of liberty, puzzling to Edmund Burke and derided by Samuel Johnson, was patently hypocritical in light of the institution of slavery, writes Purdy (Law/Duke Univ.; Being America, 2003, etc.). The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both central to our canon of liberty, were thus flawed, but nevertheless achievements and prototypes that made freedom an imperative. Purdy’s short primer traces the evolution of constructive anarchy—our national tradition—through the special contributions of Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. He parses the language of Presidents Lincoln, Wilson, both Roosevelts and both Bushes as well the preaching of ecclesiastics from the Puritans and Deists to the purpose-driven Rick Warren. He touches on the dignity of free labor and utopian common sense. American political discourse, founded on the assumption that people are capable of self-government, includes notions of responsibility, service and character, writes the author. When George W. Bush asserted that the Iraq invasion would succeed because “God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom,” it was “a humane and hopeful idea,” but it was also “dangerously close to willful naïveté.” It’s too bad that Purdy’s detailed take on economics doesn’t reckon with the present unhappy situation. Readers will surely regret not having his thoughts on the effects of Ayn Rand–like libertarianism, evident in the ideas of Alan Greenspan, and its role in the dismantling of government regulation of the financial markets.

For a sapient citizenry and a new administration, a graduate-level seminar on a civic philosophy that reminds us, “Freedom is not just where you end up but also how you get there.”

Pub Date: March 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4000-4447-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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