Where America is, where it's going

Alan Wallace
| Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:20 a.m.

So, the Christmas-present books have been read. But short, snowy, frigid days are the perfect time to curl up with more good books — and find some relief from the winter blahs.

Here are four fresh titles — each dealing with America today and to come — well-suited to January reading.

“Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” by Ben Shapiro (Threshold Editions, available Tuesday) — The editor-at-large of Breitbart.com, who has previously written best-selling books about Hollywood, higher education, pornography and presidential campaigning, focuses here on leftist strategy and tactics. He contends that President Obama and his supporters pretend to oppose political bullying but that the left actually “is the greatest purveyor of bullying in modern American history,” attempting “to quash their opponents through fear, threat of force, violence, and rhetorical intimidation on every major issue facing America today,” according to the publisher. Shapiro details the left's playing of race, class and sexism “cards,” and how leftist bullying aims to force Americans to abandon principles and keep quiet — all while the left claims its supporters advocate tolerance and are the real victims of intolerance. He also warns that leftist bullying's ultimate goal is to stop political debate.

“Beating Obamacare: Your Handbook for the New Health Care Law” by Betsy McCaughey (Regnery, available Jan. 14) — This book aims to fill an informational gap by explaining how implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect Americans, their families and their finances. The author is a health-policy expert, founder of the national Reduce Infection Deaths campaign and former lieutenant governor of New York who holds a doctorate, has taught at Columbia University and has had academic appointments at the Hudson Institute and Manhattan Institute. She explains the timeline for ObamaCare provisions taking effect, winners and losers under the law, its individual mandate and health-insurance exchanges, effects on Medicare and Medicaid, and new and higher taxes that can sneak up on family budgets. In contrast to other books about ObamaCare's merits or lack thereof, this one takes a practical approach to the reality that we all have to live with and under the law.

“The Freedom Answer Book: How the Government Is Taking Away Your Constitutional Freedoms” by Andrew P. Napolitano (Thomas Nelson, available Jan. 15) — Fox News Channel's senior judicial analyst, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, offers “a clear vision of what your rights are and how you can protect them” in his newest book, says the publisher. He employs his legal expertise to remind readers why the Founders and Framers devised the Constitution as they did, using an easily accessible question-and-answer format to address such matters as the limits of government power in a free society, whether Americans' rights are guaranteed, and what forces are collaborating to destroy personal freedom. Warning of government's continuing growth and lack of accountability, Napolitano aims to shed light on unconstitutional aspects of government today through understanding of the Constitution's meaning and how and why the protections it provides are in jeopardy.

“Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future” by Samuel Gregg (Encounter Books, available Tuesday) — Americans increasingly say their nation's becoming more like Europe; the Acton Institute's research director tackles that trend and its dangers, which he thinks are greater than many of them realize. He explores the “Europeanization” of the United States via the welfare state, debt, government's share of GDP, crony capitalism, taxation, labor regulations, public-sector unionization, an aging population and what the publisher calls “the emergence of an ossifying political class” more concerned with self-preservation than with economic reform. Gregg also examines the role played by the values and institutions that inform our economic culture and priorities. He says America isn't Europe yet and sees a path to recovery in what distinguishes our economic culture, but warns that the more European the U.S. becomes, the harder that trend will be to reverse.

Alan Wallace is a Trib Total Media editorial page writer (412-320-7983 or awallace@tribweb.com).

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