- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2007

Total war

“Between 1792, when the Revolutionary government of France declared war on its reactionary neighbors, and 1815, when Napoleon set sail for Saint Helena, Europe was wracked by a nearly uninterrupted series of devastating wars. Few periods of history have been more comprehensively studied; hardly a year goes by without a large new biography of Napoleon, and there have been literally hundreds of thousands of books about various aspects of his reign. He is, as [Johns Hopkins University history professor David A.] Bell writes, ‘quite possibly the most recognizable figure from all of European history.’

“But one facet of the Napoleonic era, Mr. Bell contends [in his new book, ‘The First Total War’], is still unappreciated: its transformation of the way wars are conceived and fought. The term ‘total war’ was invented to describe the militarization of societies in World War I, and the Nazis claimed it as a slogan for their own wars of conquest. But, in fact, Mr. Bell argues, it was the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars that first showed the world what total war really meant. ‘We see war,’ he writes, ‘through conceptual lenses that were largely ground and polished two centuries ago.’ ”

— Adam Kirsch, writing on “The All Against All,” Wednesday in the New York Sun

‘Flames of hysteria’

“About a month after members of the Duke lacrosse team were falsely accused of raping a stripper last year, 88 members of the Duke faculty fanned the flames of hysteria by signing a letter announcing that they were ‘listening’ to students ‘who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism.’

“Maybe they should have been listening to the accused, several of whom had ironclad alibis. Now the professors are going to need a new example of ‘racism and sexism’ at Duke, since their case in chief has turned out to be a fraud. …

“Despite the vast privilege, untold wealth and bright shiny whiteness of the defendants, they are still under criminal indictment in this case. … Ah, the life of the privileged!”

— Ann Coulter, writing on “Stripper Lied … White Boys Fried,” Wednesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnet daily.com

Where is John Galt?

“Back in the 1970s, Albert S. Ruddy, the producer of ‘The Godfather,’ first approached Ayn Rand to make a movie of her novel ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ But Rand … worried aloud, apparently in all seriousness, that the Soviets might try to take over Paramount to block the project. …

“Rand’s paranoia, as Ruddy remembers it, seems laughable. But perhaps it was merely misplaced. For so many people have tried and failed to turn the book she considered her masterpiece into a movie that it could easily strike a suspicious person as evidence of a nefarious collectivist conspiracy. Or at least of Hollywood’s mediocrity. …

“Randall Wallace, who wrote ‘Braveheart’ and ‘We Were Soldiers,’ is working on compressing the nearly 1,200-page book into a conventional two-hour screenplay.

“Whether [Angelina] Jolie, who has called herself something of a Rand fan, will bring the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart, to life on screen, or merely wind up on a list with other actresses who sought or were sought for the role remains to be seen. Until now, at least, no one in Hollywood has figured out a formula that promises both to sell popcorn and to do justice to the original text, let alone to the philosophy that it hammers home endlessly, at times in lengthy speeches.”

— Kimberly Brown, writing on “The challenge of distilling Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ ” Thursday in the International Herald Tribune

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