- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book sense

“In the summer of 1950, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. turned down the English-language rights to a Dutch manuscript after receiving a particularly harsh reader’s report. The work was ‘very dull,’ the reader insisted, ‘a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.’ Sales would be small because the main characters were neither familiar to Americans nor especially appealing. ‘Even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject was timely,’ the reader wrote, ‘I don’t see that there would have been a chance for it.’

“Knopf wasn’t alone. ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ by Anne Frank, would be rejected by 15 others before Doubleday published it in 1952. More than 30 million copies are currently in print, making it one of the best-selling books in history.”

David Oshinsky, writing on “No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov,” Sunday in the New York Times

Pro-life Dems?

“The Democrats are working now — well in advance of the 2008 vote — to change the language they use on the issue of abortion. The goal is to appear less strident and more tolerant — the same strategy that worked in several races in 2006. …

“By couching arguments in less strident language, by using the language of religion and appearing to embrace it, Democrats in hotly contested races in 2006 were able to talk to many swing voters in a language they could relate to and find comfort in. … Running a campaign as a ‘moderate’ on abortion, a politician can confuse voters who don’t know his voting record or who don’t understand the scope of Roe v. Wade.

“Pro-abortion Democrat Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado is a case in point. ‘I consider myself to be a pro-life Democrat,’ he said in 2005. ‘And I think that the way that these labels have been thrown around is misleading. I believe in suicide prevention and the whole host of other programs that are programs that are intended to create full life for all people.’ ”

Laura Echevarria, writing on in “Personally Opposed, But” in the spring 2007 issue of the Human Life Review

Dissing the Duke

“I don’t have anything against John Wayne per se. My problem is with Harvey Mansfield. He’s a professor at Harvard who wrote a book [titled] ‘Manliness’ in which he asserted that ‘John Wayne is still every American’s idea of manliness.’ … In fact, most of the teenagers in my [family medicine] practice have never heard of John Wayne. … Kids today have generally no idea who John Wayne was and they don’t care.

“More importantly, John Wayne was an actor. In his real life, his personal life, the actor who called himself John Wayne was not particularly masculine. He made all sorts of excuses for not serving in World War II, for example, even while better actors, such as Jimmy Stewart, were putting their careers on hold to go and serve, putting themselves in harm’s way while ‘John Wayne’ stayed home, put on his makeup and played the role of a soldier in his movies. The actor who called himself John Wayne was never a soldier, or a cowboy, in real life. He just played those characters on TV. … Professor Mansfield is just so wildly out of touch with young people today. I mean, he doesn’t even realize that teenagers today aren’t watching ‘True Grit’ and ‘The Sons of Katie Elder.’

Dr. Leonard Sax, interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, Tuesday in National Review.com

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