#BookReview: Lost In Ideology by Jason Blakely

‘Comparative Religions’ For US Politics Should Be Required Reading For Every Voter In An Election Year. The title of this review basically sums up the entire review. This truly is a well written “comparative religions” type text, except for US political thought rather than the various global religions traditions. Showing the history and development of each “map”, as Blakely calls them, (but without much documentation – more on that momentarily), Blakely does a remarkably balanced job of showing each school of thought in as close to a neutral fashion as may be possible – extremists within any given school may think he didn’t present “their” side good enough, or perhaps shows “their” enemies in too good of a light, but from an objective-ish position, I stand by my statement of just how neutral he really is here. And yes, I really do think this should be required reading for every US voter before really even deciding who ultimately to vote for in any given election, as this book is truly a solid primer on the various ideologies used throughout the US and their various offshoots and intersections. Truly, it will allow each individual to better understand even those they disagree vehemently with, and ultimately a voter that better understands everyone is a better informed voter, period, who ultimately would at least have the ability to make a more fully informed decision.

Indeed, the *only* problem with this book – and thus the star deduction, as it *is* something I deduct for in all instances – is the lack of documentation. Even if I were willing to slide from my 20-30% standard (and as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I am openly considering this with every new book), this book clocking in at just 12% documentation still feels a bit light for all of its claims, no matter how well balanced.

Still, again, every voter should absolutely read this book before making any electoral decisions going forward, whether that be in 2024 or for the next several years – until this book is invalidated by future changes, whenever that may be. Very much recommended.

This review of Lost In Ideology by Jason Blakely was originally written on December 22, 2023.

#BookReview: The Rural Voter by Daniel M. Shea and Nicholas F. Jacobs

Intriguing Investigation Marred by Academic Elitism. A disclosure up front: as I get into the meat of this review momentarily, know that I am literally a man with “R == R” tattooed on his arm, which reads “Real is Real” for those less familiar with mathematics and C-family programming, and -for those less familiar with the work in question- it is the actual subheading for Part III of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Now, as to the actual text at hand for this review: It really was quite remarkable. Don’t let the three star rating fool you: this is a book that you *need* to read if you hope to have any remotely accurate understanding of politics in the United States, as it is the singular best book I’ve found to date on just what makes its titular subject a truly distinct class. In likely north of 90% of the time, I can tell you straight up that no matter what you *think* the rural voter is or how you *think* they vote or what you *think* they value… you’re more than likely wrong. Read this book to set your facts straight, and proceed from there as you will.

Now, as to the star deductions: The first is fairly standard for me, though some readers may have less of a problem with it. Quite simply, I expect any nonfiction book to be well documented, and by that I mean at least approaching the 20-30% mark (which is the typical average in my experience, though as some other reviews this year have noted, I’m slowly getting less stringent on that as long as the book in question is at least close to that number). However, this book had barely half of the bottom edge of the range, clocking in at just around 11% of the text. So there’s the first star deduction, one I knew of before I ever read a word of this text.

The second star deduction is likely given away by the “Marred By Academic Elitism” part of the title of this review. Indeed, while the authors both note that they actively live in rural America and work at a small college, their active partisanship is rather blatant and even openly embraced – and of the typical sort most would expect from Academia. Indeed, one reason I didn’t deduct *two* stars here – yes, some would say the elitism and partisanship are *that* heavy handed, certainly at times – was because even as the authors wanted *Democrats* to become more active with rural voters (and yes, they specifically noted exactly that multiple times, particularly later in the text), they also openly noted that more people *generally* need to get more active with rural voters and allow those voters the active choice in candidates and policies to support or oppose, rather than simply allowing national politics to take the fore unopposed. As a two time rural/ suburban small town City Council candidate myself… that was actually *the* message I centered both of my campaigns around – that the People would have a direct choice. (For those who care, if any, I lost both races roughly 75%-25%, though the second race was a Special Election and yet had higher turnout than the first, a General Election. So I consider that fact alone a moral win. :D)

But truly, even if you don’t agree with the authors’ heavy handed elitist partisanship – read this book anyway. They really do show quite a bit of solid research that you need to understand if you expect to play well in rural America generally, and even if you grew up in the town/ region you’re hoping to win an election it… this research may show even you things about the rural voter more generally that likely apply to even your specific rural voters. It will certainly be worth your effort to read and decide for yourself.

Which brings me to another class of reader, as someone who was *also* a former Party Leader (having served as both the local affiliate Chair of my local Libertarian Party as well as on the Libertarian Party of Georgia’s State Executive Committee as both a member and an appointee): Party Leadership, and particularly those in *any* US Political Party (to be clear, any organization that considers itself such, regardless of State election laws) who are responsible for candidate training and education, or even overall Party outreach or strategy. In any of those cases and in any of those Parties, you need to read this book. (And for those unaware, there actually are literally upwards of 100 such organizations with ballot access in at least one State across the United States, though only the Green Party and Libertarian Party have threatened – or achieved – enough ballot access to *theoretically* win the Presidency this Millennium.)

Overall a solid, if flawed, text, and very much recommended.

This review of The Rural Voter by Daniel M. Shea and Nicholas F. Jacobs was originally written on November 14, 2023.

#BookReview: War By Other Means by Daniel Akst

WWII Like You’ve Never Seen It Before. This is an account primarily of WWII and specifically a few particular people and their associates within the war – and these are people who you may have heard of, but likely never heard of their actions within the WWII period. As the description states, some of these people became quite famous indeed *after* WWII for their actions during the Vietnam / Civil Rights era – but those actions were originated when they were 20 years younger, during the trials and travails that history now knows as World War 2. As an anarchist who strives toward pacifism himself, learning of these people – several of whom I had never heard of before, and the others of whom I had never heard of this side of before – was utterly fascinating, and indeed actually eye opening, as even I had never heard of the philosophy of personalism before reading this book. Now, I intend to research it further.

The *singular* detriment to this book is that while it is clear in the narrative that the book is quite well researched indeed… the Advance Reader Copy of this text I read had barely any bibliography at all, clocking in at just 5% of the overall text when a minimum of around 20% is much more common for even barely-researched-at-all texts.

Still, even if the publisher doesn’t correct this flaw at actual publication, this is absolutely a worthy read and one that anyone who wishes to discuss the events and impacts of WWII needs to study in order to have a more complete picture of that era. Very much recommended.

This review of War By Other Means by Daniel Akst was originally written on October 20, 2022.

#BookReview: The Battle For Your Brain by Nita A Farahany

Well Documented Examination And Discussion. This book is, quite simply, one of the best documented books I’ve ever come across – 48% of the text of the ARC I read months before publication was documentation. Within the narrative itself, Farahany does a great job of using the principles espoused in John Stuart Mill’s 1859 book On Liberty as a recurring touch point on the need for liberty of the mind and brain – the last bastion of true privacy left in this increasingly interconnected world of multiple overlapping surveillance systems. Farahany does an excellent job of showing both the biological and the social side of what is happening when, and the various implications it can have for everything from criminal prosecution to employment, and many other topics as well. Written from a decidedly libertarian, pro-freedom perspective, this is absolutely a book that everyone will need to read and contemplate. Very much recommended.

This review of The Battle For Your Brain by Nita A. Farahany was originally written on October 1, 2022.

Featured New Release of the Week: A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

This week we’re looking at a superbly written yet shoddily cited story of how one town’s historic pursuit of freedom potentially led to some creative bears. This week, we’re looking at A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling.

The title of this book is one that grabs you, and it grabbed me more than most because of my own former work as both a Libertarian Party official and a more general libertarian political activist. In those roles, I actually knew a handful of Free Staters myself, though only one that I ever had any direct interaction with is cited in this book – Christopher Cantwell, who I once had to argue against in my proclamation that killing cops outside of active self defense – ie, when they are actively and directly causing an imminent threat of death or severe bodily harm to someon – was wrong. But despite the Free Staters being a bit extreme by their nature, most weren’t quite the level of Cantwell… despite Hongoltz-Hetling’s efforts here to portray them as being at least as bad. (Though to be clear, Cantwell himself is discussed only very briefly late in the book.)

Instead, Hongoltz-Hetling spins some yarns about creative bears with critical thinking skills far beyond any research I’m aware of showing them to possess, with minimal at best documentation of his claims even in this regard. He then combines these bear yarns with stories of the Free Staters of Grafton, NH, which seem to be a splinter group from the main Free State Project types to begin with – at the time of this writing the weekend after Easter 2020, I’ve reached out to my one remaining contact from the FSP from those days but have yet heard back from him. Hongoltz-Hetling then spends the majority of the book focused on Grafton and only mentioning another FSP targeted town, Keene, late in the book and even then only briefly. Indeed, he only gets to Keene at all after having established repeatedly that the Free Town Project of Grafton was the originator of the Free State Project, despite the FSP’s own historians noting that their effort began even before Hongoltz-Hetling is quite clear in his assertions of the beginning of the Grafton effort.

Throughout the text, Hongoltz-Hetling’s disdain for the very people he is writing about, and seeming preference for the bears themselves, becomes quite abundantly clear. Though the bear stories are indeed entertaining, and the prose itself is quite great. The structure of the book into three parts – which this author calls books – seemingly follows that great libertarian magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, which the author references a few times but seems to have never fully understood – if he ever even fully read it. (To be clear, this writer has read it on three separate occasions, one of the only books to have been re-read during my eReader era.)

Overall an entertaining book, if not quite accurate enough for a book claiming to be non-fiction, this would probably be better suited had the author changed the effort into simply creating a novel out of the same material. Still, recommended for entertainment value alone.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling”

#BookReview: Mayor Kane by Glenn Jacobs

Mostly Memoir. Part Treatise. Some Genuflecting. The biggest thing to know about this book is that it is mostly memoir of Glenn Jacobs’ life *pre* becoming Mayor of Knox County, TN. Indeed, the longest chapters and the most chapters overall deal specifically with his 20+ years working for Vincent Kennedy McMahon in World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment. Which is where at least part of the genuflecting comes in – his praise of Vince… well, Kane has been known to employ less smoke than Jacobs blows when speaking of McMahon. (And don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the fans that generally thinks McMahon has truly been one of the smarter men in sports entertainment over the last 30+ years, largely for the reasons Jacobs elaborates on quite a bit.)

The next largest part of the book is Jacobs’ mostly general political philosophy with a few specifics. Here, Jacobs actually makes a very strong case for libertarianism and those that find themselves agreeing with his thoughts here should look into a newly announced (at the time of writing this review) Presidential candidate John Monds, the first Libertarian ever to earn more than 1 million votes. However, this is also where more of the genuflecting comes in, as Jacobs devotes a fair amount of time to praising the current occupant of the White House. If you like that person, you’ll like what he says here. If you don’t, know that this is a small section of the book overall, but coming near the end leaves a bit of a bitter taste in the mind of that type of reader.

Ultimately primarily sports entertainment memoir, this is one of the better written ones I’ve come across, and I’ve read several from over half a dozen of Jacobs’ contemporaries and even a few legends. Very much recommended.

This review of Mayor Kane by Glenn Jacobs was originally written on February 13, 2020.