Sunday, July 11, 2010

Four New Books I’m reading

By Joseph Kellard

On Saturday, I stopped by Barnes & Noble and bought three books: “Neoconservatism” by C. Bradley Thompson, “The Logical Leap” by David Harriman and “The Sea Wolf” by Jack London.

A few week ago I ordered “Nomad” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali from, but I only read the first chapter or two before I had to put it down to invest much more time and effort writing a 6,200-word essay on the fundamental cause of the Catholic Church’s sex scandals and complete it before deadline. Before this stage, I had kept my book reading to a minimum (I finished reading both Andrew Bernstein’s “Capitalism Unbounded” and John David Lewis’s “Nothing Less Than Victory”), and now that I’m finished with the essay I want to return to reading more often, especially as I prepare to start writing at my new job with, a new news division of America Online.

So what motivated me to pick up these four books? Let’s start with “Nomad.” I bought it because I loved Ali’s biography “Infidel,” which is about Ali’s strict Muslim upbringing in Africa and the Middle East, and her break from her religious family after he father arranged her to marry a man she had never met. I’ve written about an interesting aspect of that book -- how reading Western novels and romance books in particular helped sustain the spirit she needed in order to run away from her family. In “Nomad,” Ali writes about her time living in what she calls her last and final home, America, and about Muslims living in the West. If this book is anything like “Infidel,” I expect to be more enlightened and happy with my purchase.

And that purpose, to be more enlightened, is the purpose of buying any book, isn’t it? That is definitely what drove my interest in “The Logical Leap” by David Harriman. Sure, I’m buying the book, in part, because Mr. Harriman is an Objectivist, but I’ve not been motivated to read every book written by my philosophical brethren. I need to be particularly interested in the subject. Well, this book is on physics, a field I actually know little about but would love to learn much more. But more specifically this book is about methodology in thinking, about applying Ayn Rand’s theory of concepts to physics, and, more fundamentally, about inductive reasoning. I know that after I had read Tom Bowden’s excellent book “The Enemies of Columbus,” as well as hearing him talk about this book on a radio show, I learned not only about the history behind the heroic explorer and how multiculturalists have distorted the objectivity of his life and accomplishments, but also how to think about historical subjects and events in general, based on the objective methodology that Bowden employed in this book. I eagerly expect the same results from reading “The Logical Leap,” in that I hope to learn to be able to think more effectively about scientific issues in general.

The full title of C. Bradley Thompson’s new book is “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea,” and based on the table of contents it looks like it explores both the historical and, mainly, the philosophical right-wing political movement. Dr. Yaron Brook, the president of the Ayn Rand Institute, is a co-author, and if this book is anything like the excellent essay that Mr. Thompson wrote about conservatism a few years ago for The Objective Standard, I expect to learn much more about the political right. I’ve always had a strong interest in politics, and it’s exciting to o see an Objectivist write a new book on the subject, just as exciting as when I read Thompson’s excellent book on John Adams's political thought “John Adams and The Spirit of Liberty.”

Lastly, I decided to pick up a fiction book, which I read little of last year. I’d like to return to reading novels on a more regular basis, and so I bought “The Sea Wolf” by Jack London at the recommendation of Objectivist Diana Hsieh.

I’ve come across her praises of London’s novels at her NoodleFood website, and it interested me enough to give this short book a shot. About “The Sea Wolf,” Hsieh wrote: “My favorite Jack London is The Sea Wolf. It's the Nietzchean ubermensch versus the civilized Christian. It's phenomenal. Ever since reading that, I've been reading Jack London regularly. I definitely like some works more than others, but overall, I'm entranced.”

Here's hoping I become entranced!

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