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They don’t make centuries like they used to

On many occasions during half a century of involvement in — and commentary on — world affairs, I have found myself worrying about what’s going to become of the poor old U.S.A.

The torment of Pasternak’s true muse

Sometimes when you read a novel, you just know that the love story at its heart has to be based on a real relationship. This takes nothing away from the author’s craft: it’s simply that the fabric he has woven is redolent of someone who has actually loved and been loved. The Russian novelist Boris Pasternak’s magnum opus “Doctor Zhivago” — which won him the Nobel Prize the Soviet authorities would not allow him to accept — is a prime example of this phenomenon. The object of its eponymous hero’s passion, Lara, seems so obviously the reflection of a great love affair.

The libertarians versus the conservatives

While libertarians and conservatives have some similar outlooks on politics, economics and culture, many profound differences have kept them apart. Attempts to bridge this gap, including Frank S. Meyer’s theory of fusionism (combining elements of libertarianism and traditional conservatism), have largely been unsuccessful.

Looking back at who Obama could have been

In the great swirl of people and ideas and the high winds of political rhetoric and journalistic overkill howling through Washington during the early days of the Trump administration, it’s hard to remember just what preceded it all — an extended period of not much presided over by a somewhat detached figure with an academic sense of irony who did no irreparable damage, presided over no catastrophes, quietly turned over the keys to the White House when the moment arrived, and just as quietly, seemed almost to fade away.

Life of the doctor who murdered innocents

I followed the Kermit Gosnell murder trial in 2013, which was covered by the local Philadelphia media, but ignored largely by the national media.

Revealing the spirit of Ike

Bret Baier’s new book, “Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission,” highlights Ike’s passing of the torch as commander in chief to Jack Kennedy as the key to opening the door to a better, more accurate understanding of Ike. Change of command in military units, large and small, is always arresting, and from president to president is unique, as we just saw again on Jan. 20, 2017.

Murder, a memory problem and justice

Commander William Monk has been haunted for many years by loss of memory suffered in an accident and that disaster has turned into a nightmare in which he finds himself facing charges of murder and a possible death sentence.

Related Articles

BOOK REVIEW: 'How to Speak Midwestern'

A native of Lansing, Michigan and resident of Chicago, Edward McClelland "ended up voting for Chicago native Hillary Clinton, because we haven't had a president with an Inland North accent since Gerald Ford." And has any political analyst salvaged any better reason for voting for Mrs. Clinton?

The letters Roald Dahl wrote to his mother

Roald Dahl's penchant for the macabre in his adult short stories make them some of the most haunting and chilling of 20th-century English literature. It even made its mark, albeit a lesser one, in what he wrote for children, the best known of these being "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." So it is unsurprising to find it not altogether absent, particularly in the earlier parts of this collection of the letters he wrote faithfully to his mother from his days at boarding school, beginning aged nine in 1925 and continuing until shortly before her death more than four decades later.

Family ties and life journeys

"Commonwealth" begins with a party celebrating the christening of baby Franny, the second daughter of policeman Fix Keating. It ends with another party, some 50 years later.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan'

This is an important book by probably the best chronicler of modern financial affairs on the job today. It is a thoroughly researched and elegant narrative about the life of a major player in this current era of instability and peril in our global financial markets.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Great Mediterranean Passenger Ships'

Most of the attention paid to transatlantic ocean liners centered on the North Atlantic route, dominated by British, French, Dutch and German vessels, with the occasional American superstars like the interwar SS Leviathan and the postwar SS United States.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Baker Street Jurors'

It isn't just the murder which captures your attention in this sophisticated romp of a mystery. It's the weapon. Why? Because it's a cricket bat owned by a man considered England's greatest cricketer.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Voices Within: The History of How We Talk to Ourselves'

Let's face it. One way or another, at one time or another, we've all heard voices in our heads. The persistent song lyric or commercial jingle, the echo of a conversation with someone we cared about that sticks in the memory, mulling over prospects or alternatives with ourselves, or rehearsing lines in our mind before using them on others all qualify as "inner voice" experiences.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Vanity Fair's Writers on Writers'

The magazine Vanity Fair has had more than one incarnation. Founded as a rather classy publication in 1914, it lasted until the Depression killed it off in 1936. Along the way, publishing some of the most distinguished writers of its day, from Noel Coward to D.H. Lawrence and from humor to reportage.

Presenting the real world of spy tradecraft

The chance acquisition of widely disparate books on intelligence a few days back prompted a question: How much actual knowledge does the lay citizen have about the workings of the intelligence community? And what information can be considered authentic?

BOOK REVIEW: 'My Life with Wagner: Fairies, Rings, and Redemption'

More than 40 years ago I spent a week that seemed like a lifetime in Bayreuth, the pretty little German provincial town that once served as capital for the Margraves of Ansbach-Bayreuth, minor Franconian princelings who rented a few regiments of troops to King George III for service against George Washington.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Conclave'

Doings that occur behind closed doors always fascinate and especially if they have to do with politics or power, which is one reason why document leaks always hit the headlines. The allure of secrecy and the thrill of leak-like revelations of secret discussion are the engines of "Conclave," Robert Harris' latest novel, which takes readers into the Vatican for the election of a pope.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack'

After 75 years, nine formal investigations, innumerable books, stories and endless speculation, no one has properly concluded why America was caught defenseless and totally off guard when a mob of Japanese Zeros zoomed in and nearly obliterated the entire U.S. Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor that sleepy Sunday morning.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa'

Probably the two best-known Japanese cultural figures in the west are conductor Seiji Ozawa and novelist Haruki Murakami, so the very idea of listening in on their conversations entices -- the more so since Haruki Murakami invariably evokes music in his novels.

The campaign that doomed Hillary Clinton

That something extra is Sen. Bernie Sanders and the story he tells in the first 182 pages of his life, his career, the unique 2016 campaign, and what it may portend. The second half of the book, a staff-stuffed pastiche of campaign detritus, is highly skippable. But his account of the campaign, which brought out a new generation of voters and doomed Hillary Clinton, is well worth reading.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Putin's Master Plan'

A day or so after Soviet Communism collapsed into a pile of rubble, I had a phone chat with a longtime pal, Herbert Romerstein, who knew -- and hated -- Communism with a fervor unsurpassed in Washington (or perhaps anywhere else).

BOOK REVIEW: 'War Diaries 1939-1945'

It's no accident that the publisher of this book saw fit to put "Author of 'Pippi Longstocking'" after Astrid Lindgren's name, for that classic children's book is not merely the chief, but perhaps the sole, reason she is known.