The Power Broker

(Robert Moses and the Fall of New York) (by Robert A. Caro, 1974) That this brick of a book (well over a thousand pages) about public infrastructure is so compelling is due to, first, its traverse of key decades in the rise of America (1920s to the 1960s); second, the author’s awesome depth of research and keen grasp of his subject; and third, the subject himself: the most famous public official in New York (perhaps America), Robert Moses (18 December 1888 – 29 July 1981), a humanities man, without engineering qualifications, who yet singlehandedly matched the Pharaohs and the Romans in…

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Vale Republican Party Rascal

P.J. O’Rourke, Journalist and satirist (14/11/1947 – 15/2/2022) O’Rourke was once (c. 2009) a guest on the ABC’s Q & A programme, surrounded by the usual suspects. After listening to the various diatribes, he stated a forceful rhetorical question: “Why does the Left assume we’re all as stupid as they are?” His whole life was filled with such sublime bon mots. Read one of his essays, diary notes or other pieces, and you will find a fair bit of wisdom and a hell of a lot of hilarity. (A firm favourite is his ‘book review’ of “Everything to Gain: Making the…

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The Art of War, Peace and Palaver

(By Paul Brennan) (Amazon, 2018) Over 23 hundred years ago, a dynastic militia in China wrote down their collective thoughts on the strategic management of conflict. The Art of War (aka Sun Tzu, after the Order’s paterfamilias – see main image) is recognised as a classic handbook for modern problems (whether in war, business or interpersonal quarrels). Litigation and legal negotiations are often referred to as war (or business) by other means, and can arise or be ignited from clashes of personality as well. Thus, some 23 hundred years later, experienced Queensland Lawyer Paul Brennan gives us a legal take…

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Pandemia

How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives (by Alex Berenson) (2021) This splendid book is both a comprehensive review of how the world got everything wrong about Covid-19 (or, if you have a conspiratorial bent, how the plague was weaponized by authoritarian forces to cow and terrify us into submission), and a story of how one man kept yelling from the back of the truck that this emperor had a spiked crown but no clothes. Or in his words, “how media hysteria, political partisanship, overreliance on unproven technology, and scientific illiteracy brought the United States and the…

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The Coddling of the American Mind

By Greg Lukianoff & Jonathan Haidt (2018) The Guardian hated this book, so it must be good, right?  Not necessarily. it is a bit like Mr. Haidt’s The Righteous Mind – an excellent book – transferred onto campus, where, the authors argue, i-Gen or Gen Z students are being programmed by social media and their professors into fragile, hysterical, blind little snowflakes. This resolves into the ludicrous examples seen in recent years of safe spaces (current example: Arizona State socialist students seeking to bar Kyle Rittenhouse from attending an online course!), cancel-culture and witch-hunts, all vivified by helicopter parents, university bureaucrats,…

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