Right Shelf

Posted at 4:30pm on Jan. 29, 2007 More on The Enemy at Home

By Kevin Holtsberry

In case you haven’t noticed, Dinesh D’Souza’s book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, is generating a lot of discussion (I am sure the publisher is happy). I for one, find the discussion fascinating and important. To that end to more links:

– Rod Dreher, who hasn’t finished reading the book yet, has some interesting comments on his blog. Here is basic summary of his point (which I think is a very valid one) but read the whole post:

The point I wish to make, though, is that D’Souza’s notion that American cultural conservatives have anything more than a superficial commonality with traditional Muslims strikes me as wrong. That doesn’t mean we should be fighting — I would hope for peaceful coexistence — but we shouldn’t pretend that all we US cultural conservatives need to do is to repudiate Michael Moore and Paris Hilton, and all will be well. The problem, from a pious Muslim point of view, is not Blue America. The problem is America itself, the nation-state personification of modernity. That may not be politically useful to the Right or the Left, but I believe it’s true.

– Rod links yet another interview with D’Souza this one with David Kuo.

– If you didn’t see the Red Hot yesterday, be sure to check out the debate between D’Souza and Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer.

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Posted at 12:27am on Jan. 29, 2007 I Neglected To Mention This . . .

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

But the magazine for which I write has declared The Way We Live Now as one of its top ten business novels.

So there you are.

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Posted at 8:07am on Jan. 28, 2007 Book Review: The Aeneid

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

Having already read Stanley Lombardo’s translation of The Aeneid, I wasn’t much interested in Robert Fagles’s translation. But Jeff Emanuel highly recommended the Fagles translation and he caused me to give in and get it. I am glad he did.

The Fagles translation is greatly superior to even the Lombardo translation, and causes me to love The Aeneid even more than I did after having finished with Lombardo’s excellent work. As Jeff points out, Fagles does a brilliant job in remaining true to Virgil while at the same time making The Aeneid accessible to modern audiences. The result is a graceful and rolling poetry closely mirroring Virgil’s own style that can be appreciated by English readers without the jarring and irritating colloqualisms that many translators–including, at times, Lombardo–resorted to. Fagles’s translation reveals Virgil’s poetry to be highly lyrical, deeply eloquent and very moving indeed.

The foreword by Bernard Knox is very informative and helpful, as are the glossary, notes, and the afterword by Fagles. In the afterword, Fagles crystallizes my appreciation for Aeneas, when he points out that Aeneas avenged Pallas as Achilleus avenged Patrocles, he sought a home as Odysseus did, and he defended it as Hektor defended Troy–and even more successfully.

An excellent translation and one that should be a part of any library. And yes, I am still bound and determined to read Dryden’s translation, which is an epic in its own right. But Fagles’s translation should have its own hallowed place in the Virgilian pantheon, and I will most certainly get Fagles’s translations of Homer. They promise to be just as deeply satisfying as his translation of Virgil, after all.

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Posted at 8:06am on Jan. 28, 2007 Book Review: The Way We Live Now

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

The Way We Live Now is an interesting and valuable satire–certainly valuable for anyone wishing to understand at least a facet of British society during Anthony Trollope’s time. I’d recommend its reading but I have to admit to being disappointed in much of it. Trollope’s narration struck me as being too familiar. The plot line concerning Georgiana Longstaffe made little sense and did not add much to the story. The constant strains of anti-Semitism–the better instincts of characters like Georgiana Longstaffe notwithstanding–was, of course, seriously off-putting. And in the end, all troubles were resolved much too conveniently, with the worthless Felix Carbury being conveniently shunted off to the side.

There is much cleverness about Trollope’s writing, and the way in which he drew his characters was most admirable; the reader is able to get a fully defined portrait of the personages in his novel. But there is little drama about the story; just a series of frustrations (with Lady Carbury’s indulgence of her son, with Felix Carbury’s entirely unadmirable character, with the situation concerning Georgiana Longstaffe, etc.) that await resolution at the end of the novel. Thus, as much as I found the story to be consequential, I found it to be somewhat disappointing as well.

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Posted at 5:51pm on Jan. 25, 2007 The Enemy At Home

By Kevin Holtsberry

Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, is catching flack from both the left and the right these days. I have enjoyed D’Souza’s work in the past but I have to admit his thesis seems a little troubling. Before commenting, however, I decided it would be good to actually read the book. I will offer my opinions here as soon as I have done so.

But to pique your interest, and to give those unfamiliar with it an idea of what the book is about, I thought I would note some interesting links on the debate.

Jamie Glazov has a two part interview with D’Souza at Front Page magazine: Part one is a basic introduction to the book and its ideas and part two is more of a debate between Glazov and D’Souza.

Also be sure to check out the Q&A with Kathryn Lopez at NRO.

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Posted at 5:57pm on Jan. 14, 2007 Caesar: Life of a Colossus

By Jeff Emanuel

The astute observer will note that there has been a glut of Caesar-related books and biographies in recent years. A simple search for “Julius Caesar” on Amazon.com reveals 2,876 results under “Biographies and Memoirs.” So, upon the release of Adrian Goldsworthy’s Caesar: Life of a Colossus, the most obvious quesiton that comes to mind is “Why another one?”

In short: because this one is different. Better. More comprehensive. Any one of countless superlatives can be applied to this book, from “immensely readable” to “filled with useful context and information.”

Those will be expanded upon below the fold. To better answer the “why,” though, why not let author Adrian Goldsworthy, an Ancient Historian who lives in Wales and specializes in military history and the Classics, and a man with whom I was fortunate enough to speak just last week (audio will be posted here shortly), address the question himself?

The more I looked at [the military side of Caesar’s career], the more I thought, “Well, it’s all very well seeing that in isolation, but the Romans wouldn’t have done that. So, I wanted to write a biography that covered all of Caesar’s life, and I didn’t really see one out there.

There are some very good books on Caesar, but they tend to cover either the politics or the military side of things; they don’t look at both. And, whereas today we divide them, that just wasn’t there in the Roman Republic. As a Roman Senator, you’d go off and command an army, you’d come back and you were a magistrate in the city, you’d do each of those things in turn, and the two would feed off of each other – so I think, to understand it properly, then you really need to look at the man’s life in the full.

The other thing was to try and bring it to life. I do believe that, in some of the other books on Caesar, he and the people around him sort of become representations of political ideas. They don’t become living, breathing human beings; they don’t become living, breathing human beings, and it’s such an incredible story that it’s just worth telling that way.

Read on for the rest of the review. . .

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Posted at 5:40am on Jan. 14, 2007 It Cannot Be Emphasized Enough . . .

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

That Jimmy Carter’s latest book on the Middle East is rife with inaccuracies. As such, stories like this one deserve as much attention as we can give them (read on):

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Posted at 4:48pm on Jan. 11, 2007 The Cold War and the War on Terror

By Kevin Holtsberry

Here are some worthwhile links for your browsing pleasure:

– The American Spectator has an interesting piece on Jim Baen editor and founder of the U.S. science-fiction publisher Baen Books:

His role as a cultural warrior was a proud one. He contributed very significantly, below the radar of sociological and cultural commentators, to the strengthening of Western culture.

He also did something not many cultural warriors, and not many publishers, can claim: he may have contributed directly and significantly to the West winning the Cold War.

Not bad for an ex-hippie who left home at 17, lived on the streets for several months and finally enlisted in the U.S. Army to avoid starving.

More below the fold.

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Posted at 2:53pm on Jan. 10, 2007 An Ode to National Review

By Kevin Holtsberry

Readers interested in the history of the conservative movement and/or National Review will want to be sure to check out an internet special over at ISI Books. For a limited time they are offering a special price for three books:

Take advantage of this opportunity to get The Making of the American Conservative Mind, Principles and Heresies, and James Burnham and the Struggle for the World, at a deep discount.

All three volumes are available for $57.00, not including shipping and handling. List price for these titles purchased individually is $89.85. That’s a savings of $32.85, and you save on shipping too.

I have read The Making of the American Conservative Mind and James Burnham and the Struggle for the World and hope to get to Principles and Heresies in the not to distant future. As I said, if you are interested in American conservatism these are three excellent books about the men at the center of the movement.

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