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Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 26, 2006 | Go to article overview

Half-Page Books


Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (Viking Adult) by Nathaniel Philbrick

For sixty-five days, the Mayflower had blundered her way through storms and headwinds, her bottom a shaggy pelt of seaweed and barnacles, her leaky decks spewing salt water onto her passengers' devoted heads. There were 102 of them -- 104 if you counted the two dogs: a spaniel and a giant, slobbery mastiff. ... They were a most unusual group of colonists. Instead of noblemen, craftsmen and servants -- the types of people who had founded Jamestown in Virginia -- these were, for the most part, families -- men, women, and children who were willing to endure almost anything if it meant they could worship as they pleased. ...

They were nearly ten weeks into a voyage that was supposed to have been completed during the balmy days of summer. But they had started late, and it was now November, and winter was coming on. They had long since run out of firewood, and they were reaching the slimy bottoms of their water casks. Of even greater concern, they were down to their last casks of beer. Due to the notoriously bad quality of the drinking water in seventeenth-century England, beer was considered essential to a healthy diet. And sure enough, with the rationing of their beer came the unmistakable signs of scurvy: bleeding gums, loosening teeth, and foul-smelling breath. So far only two had died -- a sailor and a young servant -- but if they didn't reach land soon many more would follow.

Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe(Crown Forum) by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

One thing that all Lincoln cultists have in common is that they use the Lincoln mythology to advocate a bigger, more centralized, and more interventionist central government for one reason or another. ...

If there is anything that causes the Lincoln cult to become agitated, if not hysterical, it is the suggestion that Abraham Lincoln, like virtually all other politicians in world history, was acutely interested in the accumulation of money and power. For most of his adult life, before jumping to the Republicans, Lincoln was a member of the Whig Party -- the party of the moneyed elite in America. He was a wealthy trial lawyer who married into an affluent, slave-owning Kentucky family, the Todds. As a prominent railroad industry attorney he was a consummate political insider in Northern big business circles.

The Lincoln cult has effectively covered up the truth about Lincoln's and the Republican Party's economic policies. ... Lincoln's Republican Party used the powers of the central government to benefit its corporate supporters, usually at the expense of the general public. Lincoln himself was what today would be called a "lobbyist" for the railroad industry. ... He was also an ardent protectionist who spent his entire political career promoting protectionist tariffs ... and an "inflationist" who favored letting a federal bank print paper money that was not necessarily redeemable in silver or gold.

Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them (Free Press) by John Mueller

As it is now, terrorism policy constantly seeks to enhance this (rather unlikely) possibility (that terrorist acts could "do away with our way of life") by stoking fear and by engaging in costly, terrorist-encouraging overreaction....

By contrast, a sensible approach to terrorism would support international policing while seeking to reduce terrorism's principal costs -- fear, anxiety and over-reaction -- not to aggravate them. In the process it would stress that some degree of risk is an inevitable fact of life, that the country can, however grimly, absorb just about any damage terrorism can inflict ... and that seeking to protect every imaginable terrorist target ... is impossible and absurd ... .

One day we might even begin to consider a heretical possibility, one that may or may not be true but that fits the evidence gathered so far: that the massive Homeland Security apparatus in the United States is persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend against an internal enemy that scarcely exists. …

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