BOOK REVIEWS · Leadership · Politics

The New Reagan Revolution – Michael Reagan (2010)

Michael Reagan has captured the essence of President Reagan’s values, fiscal policy, 031264454X_band tough-minded leadership in his book, The New Reagan Revolution.  The sub-title should jolt any thinking American – “How Ronald Reagan’s Principles Can Restore America’s Greatness.”  Clearly, we have drifted far from President Reagan’s vision for America.  The city of the hill that he so loved has descended into the swamp of relativism and pragmatism that tolerates abortion on demand, celebrates homosexual marriage, and applauds big government and out-of-control spending.

The author walks readers on a path that traces Reagan from his days as a Democrat to his final days in the White House.  Readers learn that Reagan was a man of unwavering conviction.  He believed in a “banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pale pastel shades.”  The author adds, “Every leader who waves a banner of bold colors has plenty of critics.  If no one is criticizing you, you’re not being bold enough.  Ronald Reagan never worried about his critics.  He didn’t care what other people thought of him or said about him or wrote about him.”  Reagan’s son continues, “Pale pastel people try to straddle both sides of every issue in an attempt to get everyone to like them.  They try not to be too bold because they fear offending others or drawing criticism … Ronald Reagan knew he would never please everybody, so he staked out bold positions on the issues – then he proved he was right.”  This is the kind of leadership that brought the former Soviet Union to its knees.  This is the kind of bold leadership America needs now – bold, decisive, and unwavering in the face of adversity!

The author rightly portrays his father as the great communicator.  “Every leader,” writes the younger Reagan, “must communicate his vision in a way that persuades and inspires.”  And while Reagan truly inspired America in his two terms as president, he did not compromise his cherished values.  Nor did he play both sides for the middle in order to gain the loyalty of special interest groups.  The great communicator spoke with clarity and conviction.  He knew how to capture the heart of America.  He knew the power of the spoken word.

Additionally, the author portrays President Reagan as the great unifier.  The president once said, “We’ve got to quit talking to each other and about each other and go out and communicate to the world … We must go forth from here united, determined.”  Reagan worked to find common ground with his political opponents and even forged a friendship with his nemesis, Tip O’Neal.  America is in search of a leader who unifies like Ronald Reagan.

Finally, the author demonstrates the love that his father had for freedom.    Reagan was fond of saying, “Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction.”  One wonders what he would say today.  One wonders what the former president would say about excessive regulation and a socialized health care system.  The author encourages readers to advance the New Reagan Revolution by “boldly standing up for the original Reagan Revolution.  Let everyone around you know the truth about Ronald Reagan, the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution.”

The New Reagan Revolution is a book that should be devoured by every American.  President Reagan is an inspiration for anyone who loves freedom, limited government, a strong military, and lower taxes.  The younger Ronald Reagan is on target when he says, “There will never be another Ronald Reagan.”  But we can certainly return to a day where the principles that President Reagan believed in are weaved into the fabric of American culture.

4.5 stars

Biography · History · Law · Legal · Politics

True Faith and Allegiance – Alberto R. Gonzales

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Alberto R. Gonzales, True Faith and Allegiance. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016, 526 pp. $19.09

True Faith and Allegiance is the biographical tale of a man who has experienced the American dream. Rising from humble origins, this man served in a prestigious Texas law firm, and served under George W. Bush during his days as governor of Texas. He became the Secretary of State in Texas and was named as a Supreme Court Justice in that state. He was later appointed by then-President George W. Bush to serve as special legal counsel until he reached the apex of his career in an appointment to serve as Attorney General in the Bush administration.

True Faith and Allegiance recounts the life and career of Alberto R. Gonzales, the first Hispanic man to ever serve as Attorney General. Gonzales writes with a stunning amount of transparency in this book, sparing no details.

While the book is primarily about Gonzales, one of the most fascinating features is his insight into the forty-third president of the United States, George W. Bush. Gonzales speaks highly of Bush and alerts readers to his keen intellect, rock-solid integrity, loyal friendship, and his leadership abilities.

The most outstanding feature of True Faith and Allegiance is the depth of Gonzales character. It is a testament to personal integrity, courage under fire, and devotion to the Commander in Chief. Alberto Gonzales paid a steep price for being a man of integrity and for living according to a set of timeless principles. Gonzales shares in great detail about the painful assault on his character and the tragic dividends he reaped after his time in office.

Despite these painful events, Gonzales forged ahead. He never gave up and he continues to use his gifts to serve people and glorify God. The former Attorney General writes,

Everyone at some point, believes life is unfair, but you must learn to accept and overcome adversity, put your trust in God rather than human beings, and move on. I harbored resentment for a time against Democratic senators and staffers who attacked me, and against Republicans who abandoned me. Now I see that while they sought to do evil to me, God used it for good.

Gonzales takes a page out of Joseph’s playbook by maintaining a God-centered perspective. He encourages young people, “Step into the arena with your eyes open and your armor securely attached. Be bold and take risks. Never fear criticism; you will not be treated fairly; accept the fact that you will be criticized no matter what you do, so do good anyway.”

True Faith and Allegiance is a story for every American. Some may disagree with Gonzales convictions. Others may reject his politics. But none can accuse him of being unfaithful to his country. Gonzales is a model patriot worthy to be emulated. Indeed, he is a man of true faith and allegiance!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · Politics

TED CRUZ – THE WACKO BIRD (2015)

They call him the “Wacko Bird.”  Other words are often used to cruzdescribe the Senator from Texas: He’s accused of being “extreme,” “out of touch,” “crazy,” and  “arrogant.”  The media has caricatured him as a right-wing lunatic.  The liberals in Congress have tried to discount him and marginalize him.

After reading, A Time For Truth by Ted Cruz, I can say with confidence that the Senator is a man who means what he says and says what he means.  He is committed to conservative values and is willing to pay a personal price for standing up for those values.

A Time For Truth is the story of an immigrant’s son – a man who learned the value of hard work, honesty, and integrity at a young age.  It is the story of a Princeton graduate (cum laude) who walked away with an undergraduate degree in Public Policy.  Cruz went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.  The liberal law professor, Alan Dershowitz calls Cruz, “Off-the-charts brilliant.”  Yet the Senator from Texas is portrayed as a “dummy” and an “extremist.”

Senator Cruz is a fiscal conservative.  As a young man, he memorized the Constitution and now he fights every day to preserve the freedom we enjoy as American citizens.  Cruz fights for the unborn and he fights for the voiceless.  He is committed to securing the border.  He has a plan for defeating Isis.  He is a man of faith who has the best interest of our country.

A Time For Truth sets the record straight.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Senator Cruz will get the last laugh.  The Senator from Texas is unwilling to waver.  He is unwilling to back down.  He is unwilling to compromise his conservative principles.  The “wacko bird” is just getting started.  Ted Cruz has charted an determined course to the Oval Office!

BOOK REVIEWS · History · Politics

LAST ACT: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan – Craig Shirley (2015)

 

a reagThe legacy of President Ronald Reagan is securely established in history. Liberals can scoff and moan but the fact remains; Ronald Wilson Reagan is one of the most influential Americans of all time. Indeed, Reagan is not only one of the loved and respected presidents in American history; he is also one of the most effective.

Most books focus on the life of President Reagan and work hard to establish his presidential accomplishments. Craig Shirley’s new masterpiece, Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan takes a different approach. Shirley sets out to help readers see Reagan in a different light and in a different context. This book serves as a lens for Americans to view President Reagan in his post-presidential days, including the days which followed his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Last Act begins with President Reagan on his death bed. The author highlights Reagan’s life and legacy from different perspectives – including friends, family, and foes. One of the constant themes that weaves through the book is the deep and abiding love that America has for the 40th president of the United States.

We would do well to listen to the words of Reagan’s old arch nemesis, Senator Ted Kennedy who offered these fitting words, upon hearing of Reagan’s death:

He brought a special grace to the White House and the country in everything he did. We often disagreed on specific issues, but he had an undeniably unique capacity to inspire and move the Nation. On foreign policy, he will be honored as the President who won the cold war. It was more than the fact that he was a superb communicator. Some attributed at least part of his success to the fact that he was a superb communicator. Some attributed at least part of his success to the fact that he had been an actor. But his deepest convictions were matters of heart and mind and spirit, and on them, he was no actor at all.

Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan bears the marks of a book which is informed by thorough research and careful study. Craig Shirley should be commended for his clear writing and respect for the 40th president of the United States. Last Act is not only a tribute to one of the most beloved leaders in American history; it is a gift to the American people.

The legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan speaks for itself and will continue to reverberate throughout history. Antonin Scalia notes, “Ronald Reagan needs no one to sing his praises.” Justice Scalia may be on target. But the fact remains: History will not stand by in silence. The legacy of Ronald Reagan will endure for generations.

I received this book free from the publisher.   I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS · History · Politics

KILLING REAGAN – Bill O’Reilly (2015)

Some people love him; others hate him. But one thing is certainreagan about Bill O’Reilly. The popular host of the O’Reilly Factor makes history interesting. The “no-spin” Irish-American journalist began a series of killing books, with the publication of Killing Lincoln. This effort was followed by Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and Killing Patton. O’Reilly’s latest offering, Killing Reagan has sparked a bit of controversy, since unlike the other characters, Reagan was not murdered.

Readers will not be surprised that at the heart of this book is an insiders look at the assassination attempt of President Reagan. The would be executioner, John Hinckley Jr. is rightly portrayed as a psycho-path drifter who will go to any length, including killing the President of the United States to impress the actress, Jodi Foster.

But readers may be surprised at how O’Reilly portrays the President. The author carefully paints a portrait of the 40th president and includes details that are making some readers uncomfortable and even upset. Make no mistake: the king of no-spin in unwilling to leave any stone unturned in this book.

Apart from some of the more controversial elements of the book, O’Reilly includes fascinating discussion about Reagan’s relationship with Nancy, staff members, Mikhail Gorbachev, and of course, the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.

This book will draw criticism from liberals. But it will also invite the critical response of conservative who revere Ronald Reagan. But it is clear that O’Reilly writes as an unbiased journalist here. He has no bone to pick. He has no axe to grind. He merely desires a telling of the facts. The end result is a fascinating read that ultimately honors the 40th President of the United States. Killing Reagan is a memorial to one of America’s great leaders. It is a vivid reminder of the importance of freedom. This is the story of Ronald Wilson Reagan – patriot, promoter of liberty, and President of the United States of America.

Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · History · Politics

41: A PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER – George W. Bush (2014)

bush“Read my lips.  No new taxes.”  These are the words that enter the minds of most Americans when then think of President George H.W. Bush.  It is an unfortunate turn of events that the President was placed in a position where a decision to raise taxes become a necessary compromise with Democrats.

President George W. Bush writes about his father in the gripping biography, 41: A Portrait of My Father.  The book represents the first attempt of son who served as president to write about his father who also served as president.

The book spans the life of George H.W. Bush from his days growing up to his college years at Yale, his military service, numerous federal positions, not to mention his time in the oval office.  Several reviews note sharp criticism for 41 but nothing could be further from the truth.  Perhaps the most revealing insight into the life of the 41st president is his unfailing loyalty to country and comrades.  George H.W. Bush was not a war monger as suggested by the liberal left.  Rather, he was a political heavyweight.  But more importantly he was a man of integrity and honor.  He loved his country and is showed – it still does!

President George H.W. Bush was not a perfect man.  He made mistakes as we all do.  But the 41st president of the United States made principled decisions; decisions that were informed by facts and inspired by honesty.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · Politics

LIBERTY AND TYRANNY: A Conservative Manifesto – Mark Levin (2009)

1416562850_bMark Levin’s book, Liberty and Tyranny made quite a splash when it was originally published in 2009.  Even though the book is a bit dated now, I think it’s relevance is even greater now that President Obama’s failed policies have taken root.  The rotten fruit of liberalism litters the American landscape – conservatives are faced with the challenge of cleaning up the mess.

Levin lays his cards on the table at the beginning: “Conservatism is a way of understanding life, society, and governance.”  Indeed, conservatism is a worldview; a way of seeing the world and playing a part within it.

All of the arguments in Liberty and Tyranny find their genesis in the minds of the founding fathers: “The founders understood that the greatest threat to liberty is an all-powerful central government, where the few dictate to the many.”  Or as President Reagan once said, “The most frightening thing to hear when answering the door is, ‘Where from the government and we’re here to help.'”

Liberty and Tyranny is really an expose on the Statist ideology.  Of course, the Statist is consumed with power as we have seen displayed in the Obama administration.  Levin makes it clear that the “Conservative does not despise government.  He despises tyranny … The Conservative is alarmed by the ascent of a soft tyranny and its cheery acceptance by the neo-Statist.  He knows that liberty once lost is rarely recovered.  He knows of the decline and eventual failure of past republics.  And he knows that the best prescription for addressing society’s real and perceived ailments is not to further empower an already enormous federal government beyond its constitutional limits, but to return to the founding principles.”

So with the backing and historical muscle of the Founding Fathers, the author presents a cogent case for Conservatism  by confronting Statism with bold arguments and common sense American values.  He tackles matters of the free market, welfare state, environmentalism, and immigration among others.

I highly recommend Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin.  It will serve as an encouragement to most Americans but will be a source of irritation for social progressives.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · Politics

ONE NATION – Ben Carson, MD (2014)

carsonThese days there is no shortage on political books.  Both liberals and conservatives are making the rounds in the publishing industry.  Many books are filled with drivel and propaganda.  A few are worth reading and prove very helpful.  Dr. Ben Carson’s new book is numbered among the helpful books.

One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future is not your typical political work.  Make no mistake, the author wastes no time in grinding his political “axe.”  But Dr. Carson comes with a different tone.  He is a non-nonsense conservative; the kind of conservative that makes social progressives squirm.  But even liberals  who disagree with the author will find the good doctor a welcome voice in the political world.

One Nation begins with Carson’s address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.  Readers who are unfamiliar with the author would do well to carefully read and digest his remarks.  Again, he is an unashamed conservative but shares his views with boldness and humility – a combination which is rare these days, especially in Washington.

Part One: Causes of Disunity and Decline

In part one, Dr. Carson alerts readers to the multitude of cultural “brick walls” that prevent our nation from thriving.  He tackles political correctness, elitism (a favorite among the liberal “elite”), and bigotry, among others.  He accurately describes each problem with grace and tact.  Readers who are paying attention should be shaken by the depth of the problems which unfold in part one.

Part Two: Solutions

In part two, the author presents workable solutions to the problems he raised in part one.  He stresses the implementation of humility, cultivating a listening ear, and even-handed compromise, all of which are all but absent in Washington D.C.

Part Three: Who Are We?

Finally, Dr. Carson returns to the United States Constitution.  Unlike progressives and some liberals who maintain the Constitution is a “living document,” the author returns to the original intent of the founding fathers.  He stresses the importance of visionary leadership, role models, and morality – all necessary for a nation to thrive.

One Nation addresses all Americans – black, white, hispanic, Latino, and Asian.  Dr. Carson speaks to every person as a unique individual; an individual who is created in the imago dei.  But the most important feature of this book is the hope that Dr. Carson wields.  The  author waves mighty sword of freedom with boldness with the hope that other Americans will join in as well.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · Politics

THE WAY FORWARD: RENEWING THE AMERICAN IDEA – Paul Ryan (2014)

ryanSeveral years ago, I set out to read about as many of the United States presidents as possible.  Reading about the great leaders in America’s history; leaders like George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan is an unforgettable experience that tends to leave a mark on each reader.

During this political season filled with failed policies and lackluster leadership, I set out to read about a few men who may one day occupy the Oval Office.  The first book is written by the Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.  His book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea is a transparent look at the Wisconsin native and his vision for America.

Readers will be impressed with Ryan’s unassuming style.  He’s a small town boy with big dreams for America.  There’s no political pretense here; just well-thought out ideas that Ryan proposes in order to rescue our country from the clutches of the Obama administration.

Several reforms are proposed by Paul Ryan.  The first proposal he presents is entitlement and health-care reform.   The goal here, according to Ryan is to begin by repealing Obama care, the prized jewel of social progressives.   Ryan makes it clear that he intends to save social security, medicare, and medicaid.  But the current policies will, in the final analysis lead to economic disaster.  Ryan proposes commonsense solutions which promote competition among insurance companies and doctors which will ultimately drive down prices; not to mention put more money back into the pocketbook of Americans.

The second proposal includes an economic growth component.  Ryan addresses the growing national debt crisis which is over $17 trillion and rising.  He addresses the liberal proclivity to tax and spend.  Ryan adds, “The bottom line is that when you tax something , you get less of it.  So when we tax prosperity and success, we get less of each – and we need more of both so we can get the economy working for everyone again.”

Third, tax reform is on Ryan’s agenda.  He is in favor of a reduction of the corporate tax rate and argues in favor of a simpler tax code.  Ryan’s reforms would mean “that no business or family would pay more than 25 percent of their income to the federal government.”  And many Americans would pay considerable less under the Ryan plan.

Fourth, ending cronyism and corporate welfare.  Ryan notes, “Cronyism is integral to the progressive approach to governing.”  A brief look at the Obama policies only confirm this notion.  Ryan concludes, “Americans need to know that their government is on their side – encouraging robust competition that will best serve their interests and grow their economy – rather than on the side of big, established corporate players.  Capitalism and cronyism are not compatible, and it’s time Republicans made it much clear to voters that we are the party that stands for a competitive economy suitable for growth.”

Fifth, Ryan makes a good case for regulatory reform.  “Going forward,” he writes, “we should ease the regulatory  burden on the economy, and the best way to do that is to bring meaningful cost-benefit analysis back into the system, reconnect the law with the lawmakers, and restore the balance between the branches of the government.  True regulatory reform can restart economic growth – and produce the energy we need.”

Sixth, aggressive immigration reform should be a key plank in the GOP platform.  Ryan’s ideas are among the best I’ve read as a pathway for citizenship is offered and accountability required.

Seventh, sound monetary policy will guide our country into the future.

Finally, a twenty-first century national defense strategy and foreign policy.  Ryan refers to this final component of his plan as the “missed opportunity” of the Obama administration.  Moving forward will require a strong military and a foreign policy that builds bridges with our allies around the world.

There’s something strangely refreshing about Paul Ryan’s approach.  Readers will notice that this man is devoted to his family and country.  He just happens to be a politician.  Here is a man who has strong gifts  in the field of economics and understands how to apply a supply-side approach in the current climate.  Paul Ryan is a strong leader with strong values and a heart for the American ideal.  Whether he ever ends up in the Oval Office is anyone’s guess.  One thing is true: He knows the way forward.

Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · History · Politics

THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE: The Unlikely Rise of Vladamir Putin (2012)

Masha Gessen has a story to tell.  This Russian journalist draws the lines clearly and writes in terms that are understandable and inspiring.  Gessen tells the story of the ascension of President Putin in The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladamir Putin.

Gessen writes, “And with this, the transformation of Russia back into the USSR was, for all Putin’s intents and purposes, complete.”  This sentence, in my mind proves to be the most important sentence in the book.  It is also the last.  The previous 269 pages set up the trajectories that make this sentence possible.  Those pages tell the story of a former KGB spy turned president and deemed the most powerful man in Russia and one of the most influential men in the world.

My aim is not to disrespect the author in any way who has written a fascinating account of the rise of Putin.  However, the best and most interesting part of the book takes place in the epilogue.  Here, the author reveals her real hopes and fears as she explains the protests that took place in nearly one hundred cities in Russia in December, 2011.  The major strokes reveal a deep love of freedom, transparency in the press, and a respect for the heritage of her motherland.

Gessen’s work will no doubt raise questions and answer questions at the same time.  It may confirm suspicions.  It will inspire hope for a new day in the great mass of land we know as Russia.

4 stars