This is a non-threatening 246-page large-format paperback. In fact, what I missed most was footnotes, since it’s always helpful to be able to say, “Oh yeah, go read this!” to the mincing statist who can otherwise be counted on to simper, “That can’t be true; who says?”
But admittedly, comprehensive footnoting would probably have added 50 percent to the size of this book (all of it off-putting “fine print”), which does have a good bibliography, and the purpose of which is clearly to serve as a brief, irreverent, non-threatening “first inoculation” against the statist guff still being peddled in government-school history classes -- sort of like Keanu Reeves being fed the red pill in the original movie “Matrix.”
Probably the best acknowledgement of Professor Woods’ (Ph.D. Columbia) accuracy, though, is the fact that while he’s been roundly attacked for this book in “mainstream” sources like the New York Times, the quibbling is always with his personal resume (generally called an “ad hominem” attack), specifically his membership in outfits which honor the freedom-fighters who resisted the War of Northern Aggression and so on -- rarely challenging the scholarship of the “alternative history” he reports.
No, the Puritans didn’t steal Indian lands, Professor Woods reveals. Yes, the Founders stressed over and over again that gun ownership is an “individual right” -- and he correctly cites Stephen Halbrook’s definitive “That Every Man Be Armed” (I would now add Akhil Reed Amar’s “The Bill of Rights”), even if his own case is necessarily sketchy.
But it’s in the middle of this book, as Professor Woods gets into the long-lived myths that Herbert Hoover allowed the Great Depression to get worse by “doing nothing,” (in fact, he worked diligently to prop up wages, which multiplied unemployment), and that FDR then saved the nation through his own wise and well-thought-out socialist interventions, that the author really hits his stride.
His depiction of FDR railing against a Supreme Court decision to throw out his fascistic American Agriculture Administration as unconstitutional, sneering “Are we going to take the hands of the federal government completely off any effort to adjust the growing of national crops, and go right straight back to the old principle that every farmer is a lord of his own farm and can do anything he wants, raise anything, any old time, in any quantity, and sell it any time he wants?” is chilling -- and begs for someone to ask not only precisely what a “national crop” is, and also what alternative principle this dime-store Mussolini would have preferred to substitute for the one he so viciously reviles.
FDR tells U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Bullitt that “I think if I give (Joe Stalin) everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.”
Thus was half of Europe -- Poland, Czechoslovakia, the half that World War II was actually fought to set free -- turned over to the tender mercies of this mass murderer for two whole generations, based on the dangerous conceits of an enfeebled nitwit who believed Stalin’s early (and aborted) seminary studies caused “something to enter into his nature of the way in which a Christian gentleman should behave.”
And after the war? Harry Truman actually apologized to Stalin for Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, offering him an invitation to come to American and offer a rebuttal. Russian prisoners who surrendered upon the solemn promise they would never be sent back to be murdered by Stalin were actually drugged with barbiturates in mid-1945 and sent back to their deaths in Russia.
The ballyhooed Marshall Plan, still celebrated in our government schools as the source of the European economic recovery of the late 1940s?
Professor Woods reveals that it was as counterproductive as any other tax-funded central government handout scheme. The Marshall handouts -- which propped up tyrannical regimes and required the recipient kleptocrats to divert scarce capital from their struggling private economies to make “matching” government expenditures on their own useless boondoggles -- actually retarded recovery in Britain and Greece until they started to wind down. Whereas the overnight economic recovery -- the “Wirtschaftwunder” -- engineered by Ludwig Erhard in Germany (luckily burdened with fewer “Marshall Plan” handouts) was brought about through the simple expedient of removing all government price and wage controls, overnight.
No wonder the simpering statists hate this modest little volume.
An entire genre of cautionary fiction has developed -- Orwell’s “1984” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” still being the reigning champions -- to warn us of the inevitable outcome should we continue to greet the incremental depredations of the liberty-eating central state with the kind of bovine complacency now on proud display in your nearest American airport “remove your keys and shoes” line.
The technological innovations that have made self-publishing more affordable have been both a blessing and a curse in this regard. Far more titles in this burgeoning genre now spring forth -- which happily indicates an underserved demand. But it’s also a curse in that so many of these tomes, while hammered out with the best of intentions, come to us from writers who have served no real apprenticeship in the craft.
Characters can be wooden, dialogue stilted.
The best of the modern bunch is John Ross’ “Unintended Consequences,” Accurate Press, $28.95 postpaid. Though I’m aware there are complaints from some parents that that novel and my own modest contribution to the genre, “The Black Arrow,” contain adult sexual situations perhaps not appropriate for all readers in the sensitive 11-15 age group.
I could argue the point -- parents of modern teens often snicker when I tell them of this concern, given what they know the kids can access Online with a few clicks of the mouse -- but my point here is that a worthy new entry for that audience has finally put in an appearance.
In the past I would have recommended Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and “Farnham’s Freehold,” followed by L. Neil Smith’s “Pallas” and “The Probability Broach” (the latter now also available as a quite good graphic novel -- i.e., comic book on steroids -- from Bighead Press, $19.95.)
Now let us add to that lineup “Out of the Gray Zone,” by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman (RebelFire Press, P.O. Box 270014, Hartford, WI 53027; $17.95 postpaid), the tale of a near-future American kid who decides to stop taking his mind-numbing government-mandated “meds” and escape from his high school/internment camp in “The Zone,” searching for a way to rid himself of the wrist ID chip that allows the central state to track everything he does.
Co-author Aaron Zelman runs Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, so there’s no doubt his heart is in the right place in these matters. But I will attribute the patient craftsmanship and pacing of this little paean to the revolutionary who lies sleeping beneath the calm facades of (hopefully) enough remaining American HaPiMed drones to leading author Claire Wolfe, who brought us “101 Things to Do Till the Revolution” (now reissued as “The Freedom Outlaw’s Handbook”) and the sequel, “Don’t Shoot the bastards (Yet.)”
Ms. Wolfe understands the surveillance/therapeutic state, and is properly appalled by it. I could have used a few more gutted G-men lying in the street at the end, were it my own tastes being served. But as we were saying, this is more along the lines of a fine “introductory text” for the receptive teen-ager -- harrowing in its own way, but never “over the top.” 1-877-REBEL-01; www.rebelfirerock.com.
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As this is being written, in early August, the usual anniversary debate swirls around the question whether (once this nation had been dragged into World War II -- and for more on Mr. Roosevelt’s role in that adventure, see Professor Thomas Woods’ book, above) it was necessary to drop two atomic bombs on Japan to end that war.
No, it was not. President Harry Truman clearly had two other choices. Instead, America could have continued the de facto submarine blockade of food imports into the Japanese Islands, and the ongoing firebombing of Japanese cities with B-29s, for months or years. Millions more Japanese would have died.
Or, Japan could have been conquered through amphibious invasion. Planning for such an invasion was actively underway. Given the level of fanatical resistance on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, planners expected the deaths of hundreds of thousands more Americans and Allies, and millions more Japanese. As it turned out, a terrible typhoon swept the Pacific that October, just as the invasion fleet would have been staging. Our casualties would have been higher than estimated.
The Japanese had not surrendered despite repeated ultimatums. They had not surrendered despite losing many more lives (including civilian lives) through “conventional” bombing than were lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Harry Truman was to make plenty of his own mistakes. (He violated the Constitution -- setting a precedent which continues to haunt us -- when he went to war in Korea without a Congressional declaration.) But in August, 1945, the man from Missouri was given a military option to end the war.
It was not used out of racism -- the atomic bomb was originally developed for use against Germany. Truman used what he had, and today, because of his decision, millions more Americans and Japanese -- including children and grandchildren of soldiers and civilians who would have died in the autumn war of 1945 -- are alive, and free.
It was the right call.