The Second World Wars
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson combines expertise about both ancient Greece and modern war to present a comprehensive look at not just war but The Second World Wars plural. Not only were the wars against Germany and Japan largely distinct, but so were the wars on land, at sea, and in the air—and Hanson brilliantly shows that once the wars became global, Germany and Japan had nothing to look forward to except utter destruction. Hanson also shows how all the technical innovations—saturation bombing, rockets, aircraft carriers, massive tank envelopments—didn’t change fundamentals of barbarity or geography.
The High Cost of Good Intentions
John F. Cogan
John Cogan’s history of federal entitlement programs warns us that the ice we skate on has grown thinner decade by decade. Both Democrats and Republicans are now kicking the can down the road, apparently uncaring that the iceman cometh in a few years. Cogan provides useful case studies of measures that were sensible, self-limiting, and freedom-enhancing like the GI Bill, and current ones that grow as each benefit expansion leads to future entitlements that leave worthy original goals no longer recognizable. As annual deficits lead each year to record-breaking debt expansion, it doesn’t seem that we’ll learn—until it’s too late.
Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich
Norman Ohler’s tautly written account, based on previously overlooked documents, shows the role of drugs in fueling Hitler’s rapid rise during the 1930s and sensational fall during the second half of World War II. Among the conclusions: Methamphetamines distributed to millions of soldiers made possible the blitzkrieg that killed France in 1940. Hitler became dependent on a witch’s cornucopia of heroin and other drugs during World War II. Tragically, the mass lessons Germans learned—live by meth, die by meth—have not been absorbed by many addicted Americans, but Ohler provides a valuable lesson: Dance with the devil and die.
Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World
Eric Metaxas is the best storyteller among Luther’s many recent biographers. He describes “comically bungling and tragically scandalous” popes and a heroic but very human Luther who is brave not because he lacks fear but because he fears—yet still stands immovable before previously irresistible papal pressure. Metaxas shows how Luther wanted to save the Roman Catholic Church from itself and didn’t become a fiery opponent of the whole structure until it gave him no choice: Luther’s opponents were “unmoored from the rock of the Scriptures … blithely floating down the river toward a great cataract and didn’t seem to notice.” —Marvin Olasky