Jack’s Books: Real War, Real Love

Are “war” and “love” the two most misused words in the English (or any) language? Deep thought…

They kind of keep turning up in what I’ve been reading lately. For example, last year’s “Final Battle: The Next Election Could Be The Last” by the prolific David Horowitz takes on, without hyperbole, the modern Democratic Party’s employment of things like socialism and CRT, its fulmentations over the Electoral College and casual disregard of things like citizenship and rule-of-law, to say that those most often claiming to “defend” democracy may be its most mortal enemies. Never hysterical, always rational, the author is shaking awake his reader.

Also in recent days:

“The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation” by Victor Davis Hanson (2024) Taking us through Thebes, Carthage, Constantinople and Tenochtitlan, VDH is his usual fascinating storyteller, showing how in many and diverse places and times, the same thing happens: man makes war and is overwhelmed by victory as well as by defeat. He will be joining the show to talk about it May 15.

“Enemies: A History of The FBI” by Tim Weiner (2013) This award winning historian plays it straight (pardon the pun) in assessing J.Edgar Hoover and the single most influential US government organ he created. Hoover was a man of powerful convictions, and ambitions, and in Weiner’s telling, you cannot categorize him as purely good or evil, purely wrong or right. The subsequent history of the FBI bears out the long-held fears of Hoover himself—too much unanswerable power in too few hands.

“A Man Named John: The Life of Pope John XXIII” by Alden Hatch (1963) Written during his papacy and completed shortly after his death, this slender volume is an old friend of mine. A book my dad lovingly read and annotated (always a sign he was enjoying his reading), I treasure it like so many Catholics treasure the life of St. John XXIII and, in particular, his lifelong example of love in action, whether it was as a teacher of young people, as a papal envoy, as a pastor and then, unexpectedly, in his final years, as the leader of the Catholic Church and initiator of Vatican II. Hatch clearly loves and reveres his subject, but packs in a lot of superb detail and first-hand accounts.

“The Busy Body” by Donald Westlake (1966) In his typical whimsy, Westlake’s mystery revolves around a dead body that everyone is looking for, and will do anything to find. You know you’re reading a Westlake when you’re rooting for the bad guys, well, some of them.

“The Bourne Retribution” by Eric von Lustbader (2013) Robert Ludlum’s most enduring character, taken over from the late author by EVL and now by Brian Freemantle, has Bourne unhappily working for the Israeli Mossad, seeking both personal revenge and trying to break up a plot involving some ascendant Chinese pols and warring Mexican cartels.

“Black As He’s Painted” by Ngaio Marsh (1973) My favorite British mystery writer (sorry Agatha) and her Inspector Alleyn are literally on the carpet of a embassy assassination plot,  involving a fictitious African nation and its headstrong president (who went to British prep school with Alleyn). Other than some very dated language, offensive now but in character for the period when she wrote, this is a crisply-plotted, edge-of-seat whodunit. Great, quirky characters around a clever storyline!


As always, if you read one, tell me about it. And share your reading with me, and all of us: [email protected]



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