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Historical Fiction And Thrillers As The Gateway Drug To History And Reading In General: My 100 Novel (And Two Short Stories) Reading List for the Young Adult

Saturday, July 4, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The past two summers I have spent a week teaching young people aged 16 to 20 at the Young Conservatives Leadership Summit at Colorado Christian University.   The most popular hour lecture both years was the one in which I list for them 100 novels they ought to read, and the order in which they ought to read them, in order to addict them to the stronger stuff of real history.  This isn’t a list of the 100 greatest novels –not by a log shot, and am I ever the wrong guy to ask that. (Try “Joseph Epstein’s Lifetime Reading Plan” from his 1987 collection of essays Once More Around The Block. ) The suggested order in which my recommended novels should be read is as important as the books themselves as my method of addicting young people to reading runs from most easily accessible to most difficult, usually in backwards chronological sequence, with a twist at the end into the Napoleonic Wars, ending with the 21 Patrick O’Brien novels featuring Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.  My list ends with the O’Brian series because, as David Mamet noted 15 years ago, “[f]or the past 30 years the greatest novelists writing in English have been genre writers: John le Carre, George Higgins and Patrick O’Brian.” Continue Reading

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Harry Jaffa On The Declaration of Independence, And My “Bag of Books” Lecture For BookTV

Friday, July 3, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The long weekend begins today, and my eve of the 4th show will feature a long conversation with the late Dr. Harry Jaffa about the Declaration of Independence.  Dr. Jaffa died in January, but no one living has spent as many years thinking about the great declaration, and this conversation, part of the genesis of the Hillsdale Dialogues, is an audience favorite every year.  Enjoy.

I’ll also be on BookTV sometime next weekend I think, as CSPAN plays a lecture I gave on The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of the Second “Clinton Era” on Tuesday night.  It was actually a lecture on how to prepare for the role of asking questions at GOP presidential debates.  The short answer: Read.  Read in the current issues of the day, but also in the books that are presently shaping opinion, and of course talk, with candidates –as I have been doing a lot of in recent weeks– and smart people like Dr. Larry Arnn, Mark Steyn, NBC’s Chuck Todd, CBS’ John Dickerson, Adam Carolla (all of whom were either live or taping with me yesterday.)

The lecture begins with shameless plugging of The Queen, and then pays a long overdue thank you to Brian Lamb (Sundays At Eight), Susan Swain (First Ladies) and Peter Slen, the first two who are the “makers of the feast” when it comes to BookTV, and Brian and Peter Slen for demonstrating week in-and-out how to engage authors with serious interviews.  Then I launched into the books I have featured in the past few weeks –the reading list I set for myself and my show– to demonstrate what serious journalists have to do to simply keep up, before closing with my favorite book of the year and perhaps the most crucial outside of The Queen for the upcoming election season.  As I signed books after the talk, many asked me to post the list, so here it is: Continue Reading

Let’s Play ‘Hide The Story,’ But The Danger Is Real

Friday, July 3, 2015  |  posted by John Schroeder

“What they are doing now is making it more likely that there will be a bigger, more disastrous catastrophe for the United States,” said David Sedney, who resigned in 2013 as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That is the sixth paragraph of an AP story that showed up in only a few places this morning.  You know, July 3, 2015, a Friday of a holiday weekend, when no one (except utter geeks like me) is reading the news.  The story cites at least four former Obama administration officials that are on record saying the Obama counter-terrorism policy is not working.  A story that big ought to have show up a lot more places and sometime when someone might actually read it. Continue Reading

“Ally” by Michael Oren

Thursday, July 2, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Yeah, I know, I recommend a lot of books.  But you really must read Ally by Michael Oren, formerly Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., now a member of Israel’s Knesset, and native of New Jersey.  He joined me in studio Thursday, and we talked enough to save some for Monday’s show as well.  But even a long conversation cannot convey how incredibly central to understanding U.S.-Israeli relations going forward as this historian-turned-diplomat-turned-politician (and future minister?)’s memoir is.





HH: Do not go anywhere for the next hour and a half. We have got an extraordinary treat for you. Dr. Michael Oren, former ambassador of Israel to the United States, now a member of the Knesset, author of the brand new book, Ally: My Journey Across the American Divide, is in studio with me. Dr. Michael Oren, welcome, it’s great to have you on the program.

MO: It is delightful to be here finally to see you face to face here. Usually, I’m sitting in some battlefield and talking to you from 7,000 miles away.

HH: I talked to you in a tank once on the outside of Gaza in 2009, I think.

MO: Right.

HH: You were getting ready to do that, and you were the ambassador, and you went with the troops. Welcome, it’s good to have you.

MO: Great to be here.

HH: This is a great book. It is linked at I want everyone to go and get many copies of it for a bunch of reasons. It’s the most education a non-Jew can get about Israel that I think is in American terms, because you are an American before you were an Israeli. You gave up your passport, obviously. But you’re from New Jersey.

MO: Yes.

HH: You wore a banana tux to the senior prom like I did. And what did you call that, lamentable?

MO: The lamentable banana tux.

HH: Yeah, well, same years. We should forget the 70s. But you’re a New Jersey kid, and I wanted to divide this into a few parts – your life, and how you got to be ambassador, President Obama, your tenure as the Israeli ambassador, the Iranian regime and your future. But I want to start with the second, the most controversial stuff about Ally. President Obama, you’re very fair to him in this book. I was talking to you off air. I’ve seen some negative coverage of Ally. But you went out of your way to talk about his 2013 visit in which he showered praise and revoked the reason Israel exists is the Holocaust. I mean, you really did go out of your way to be fair.

MO: And why not? It’s a fair book. I set out to write the most honest book I possibly could within the bounds of, keep in mind, we’re dealing with some classified material. This book was vetted by the Mossad. And so what’s there is what I can disclose. But I think that the purpose of the book is to tell and honest, candid story, to bring my reader into the White House, into these discussions, and to show exactly how policy was made, and how mistakes were made. And sometimes, the mistakes are made by Israel’s side. In my particular case, I think that there were decisions made on the side of the White House which had far-reaching ramifications for Israel and the Middle East. We’re seeing it now in the peace, the talks with the nuclear deal around Iran. Continue Reading

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