Fabians Fight Freedom by H.L. Hunt (1965, H.L. Hunt Press)
Have you ever wondered what Donald Trump might be like if he were competent, honest, and fundamentally conservative? This book might provide some of the answers.
H.L. Hunt was a self-made man who rose from humble unschooled beginnings to become one of the ten wealthiest Americans through a series of risks, shrewd investments, hard work and insight into human nature. He owned the rights to the largest known oil field in the world and was worth well over a half billion dollars in 1957.
He was a rock-ribbed Republican and one of the most influential men in the party… and he was sidelined by William F. Buckley. This book provides an excellent example of why. It is a screed against Marxism in general and Fabian Socialism specifically, and contained within the book are many excellent points. Amidst those points are items like this, where he quotes the Chief of Police in Washington D.C.: “Police Chief Murray states that nearly every criminal in Washington is fully informed of his alleged rights under the Mallory decision and arrogantly claims them whenever anyone tries to question him.” and “The sincere but foolish goals of the “one-worlders” have converged with the dark and menacing goals of the communists and their allies. Both groups, whatever their motives, want to break down and ultimately do away with American patriotism.”
Hunt was an early influential figure in the John Birch Society, and it shows in this book. It conflates nationalism with patriotism, leans heavily upon elitism in a way which could easily facilitate racism, and is unsubtle and technically inaccurate on points while being generally on point with broad analysis.
This book could have been written by any prominent Republican talk show host today, but for the fact that many of the points run directly contradictory to the viewpoint and policy of Trump. The book is like the internet, though… it exists and it’s not going away. If at some point people wish to chart exactly how the Republican party deviated away from Reagan and Bush and into the brackish waters of Trumplandia, they need only take a look at how early John Birchers framed their arguments and consider how closely Republicans talkers of the 2000s emulated Hunt’s script.
The Broken Mirror by Kirk Douglas (1997, Simon and Schuster)
This is a short novella on the Holocaust, written by a famed actor. Let’s touch on the negatives, first:
There’s no depth of character; everyone is a stereotype.
The writing is simplistic, far below the level seen in his autobiographical work.
The story, such as it is, relies on a contrived ending.
Next the positives:
The book should never have been marketed to adults. It is designed as an introduction for young, curious children to the Holocaust. The main character is six years old at the beginning of the story, and that age, or a little older, was likely the target audience for Douglas. From that perspective, the flaws of the book make sense. If the reason for the book is to introduce a child to the horrors of that era, it makes sense to keep things in broad tones. The idea is not to traumatize children, but to educate and warn them.
In that respect, it works well… but with a caveat. The book’s language is likely to be just a hair too difficult for young children to read by themselves, while older children will have more detailed and informative books available to them.
The book is ideal for a parent or grandparent to read to a child, particularly a Jewish child who wishes to know about their heritage. Outside of those circumstances, it’s not worth picking up.