Coverage, guerillas, Lincoln & Israel
By Alan Wallace
Published: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Here are four titles offering valuable perspective on matters current and historical.
“Spin Masters: How the Media Ignored the Real News and Helped Reelect Barack Obama” by David Freddoso (Regnery, available Monday) — The Washington Examiner's editorial page editor, author of the best-sellers “The Case Against Barack Obama” and “Gangster Government,” turns his critical eye toward perhaps the greatest enablers of Barack Obama's re-election campaign: mainstream media that manipulated stories to benefit the president and ignored stories damaging to him. Examples of manipulation include “a debate moderator turned debate opponent,” who “baited” Mitt Romney; making Romney's gaffes on the Middle East into a bigger story than the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi; and promoting Democrats' claims that Republicans “were waging a war on women,” according to the publisher. Examples of stories ignored include the Obama administration's war on religious freedom and the so-called recess appointments it made, though the Senate still was in session; job gains in right-to-work states and states enjoying booms in drilling for natural gas and oil; and how unemployment figures would be much higher if they included all Americans who've given up on finding work.
“Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” by Max Boot (Liveright) — This informative, sweeping book places today's most worrisome form of warfare in its larger context throughout history, showing that guerrilla tactics are nothing new. Alexander the Great, for example, found fast-moving nomads more difficult to defeat than conventional armies. Mao, Che Guevara and T.E. Lawrence are among the characters who play roles in a tale that touches on such conflicts as the Roman Empire's struggles against Jewish rebels, the French-Indochina War and what the publisher calls “the shadowy, post-9/11 battlefields of today.” The author, a military historian and adviser and Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow, includes 70 illustrations and eight maps with his text. “Invisible Armies” suggests that although we've come to think differently in the past few hundred years, guerrilla warfare is more standard procedure than exceptional approach when all of history is considered. And what he has to say about how leaders through the ages have dealt with guerrilla enemies likely should be required reading for today's U.S. military officers.
“Congressman Lincoln: The Making of America's Greatest President” by Chris DeRose (Threshold Editions, available Tuesday) — Somewhat like the current movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis, this book focuses on just one period in Abraham Lincoln's life, one that came much earlier than the one depicted on screen. DeRose, author of “Founding Rivals” about the Madison-vs.-Monroe congressional race of 1789, shows us the Lincoln of 1847-49, when he served his sole term in the U.S. House as a member of the Whig Party. He'd return to Illinois facing a seemingly bleak political future, but those years defined his “political, moral and ethical ideals,” according to the publisher. DeRose shows us Lincoln becoming a leader on slavery issues, unpopularly opposing the Mexican War as unconstitutional, nearly fighting a duel with a political opponent, dealing with a troubled marriage and accomplishing two “firsts” for any future president — arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and patenting an invention. With this book's publication, this time in Lincoln's life is much less neglected than it has been.
“Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner” by Lela Gilbert (Encounter Books) — The author, a freelance writer and editor, visited Israel on a personal pilgrimage in August 2006 and stayed for more than six years, despite arriving amid Israel's conflict with Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon. The book combines her impressions of the real, vibrant Israel and its people with her account of events, past and present, whose influence on and beyond Israel continues. She recounts how she saw simple facts twisted into anti-Israel lies, from denying that Jerusalem's great Jewish temple ever existed to labeling Israel's border fences as “apartheid.” Gilbert also writes about learning of the little-remembered story of the “Forgotten Refugees” — more than 850,000 Jews driven out of Muslim territory by persecution between 1948 and 1970. She asserts that their experience is now being repeated among Christians in the same Muslim countries. Explaining the book's title and its allusion to Jewish and Christian Sabbath customs, the publisher says that “cruel pattern embodies the Islamist slogan calling for the elimination of ‘First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.'”
Alan Wallace is a Trib Total Media editorial page writer (412-320-7983 or awallace@ tribweb.com).
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