BOOK BITES: End of the Year Reviews of Three Nonfiction Books

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK BITES: End of the Year Reviews of Three Nonfiction Books

It's always like this as the year ends: I'm facing a pile of books I know I can't review completely, but they're ones I don't want to let slip by unnoticed. Consider the following reviews -- based on a quick partial reading and scanning of the books -- a recommendation to at least consider these volumes to see if they're ready for your prime time. Here are reviews of three nonfiction books that I think deserve mention as 2012 slip slides away.


* * *


I almost always find Regnery's "Politically Incorrect Guides" refreshing. The latest to land on my doorstep, Brion McClanahan's "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes" (Regnery, 272 pages, large format paperback, $19.95) is no exception, although I wish he had included one of my personal heroes, Gen. George H. Thomas, a Virginian who stayed loyal to the Union at the start of the Civil War. Thomas deserves a new full scale biography and recognition by all Americans who want to know what a Profile in Courage he was. It took guts to stand up to pressure from his family, who virtually disowned him, to honor the oath of office he took to become a commissioned U.S. Army officer.


West Point graduate Thomas (1816-1870) served in the Mexican War and was one of the principal Union commanders in the Western theater, especially Tennessee. According to his Wikipedia entry, "he won one of the first Union victories in the war, at Mill Springs in Kentucky, and served in important subordinate commands at Perryville and Stones River. His stout defense at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863 saved the Union Army from being completely routed, earning him his most famous nickname, the 'Rock of Chickamauga.' He followed soon after with a dramatic breakthrough on Missionary Ridge in the Battle of Chattanooga. In the Franklin-Nashville Campaign of 1864, he achieved one of the most decisive victories of the war, destroying the army of Confederate General John Bell Hood, at the Battle of Nashville."


So why do we have a Fort Hood, named after a Rebel, John Bell Hood, soundly defeated by Thomas at Nashville, and no Fort Thomas? Or a Fort Bragg, named after another Rebel, Braxton Bragg? Blame it on another kind of political correctness, not wanting to offend the defeated Confederates. Unlike the other generals, "Old Slow Trot" wrote no memoirs after the war. Thomas does have a traffic circle in Nortwest Washington, DC named after him, complete with an equestrian statue.


The author says that liberal historians and educators have virtually erased traditional American heroes from history. According to the Left, the Founding Fathers were not noble architects of America, but selfish demagogues. And self–made entrepreneurs like Rockefeller were robber–barons and corporate polluters. Instead of honoring great men from Americas past, kids today now idolize rock stars, pro athletes and Hollywood celebrities.


McClanahan rescues the legendary deeds of the greatest Americans and shows why we ought to venerate heroes like Captain John Smith, adventurer Daniel Boone, General Robert E. Lee and many more. The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Real American Heroes not only resuscitates Americas forgotten heroes, but sheds light on the Lefts most cherished figures, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Kennedys.


About the Author

Brion McClanahan is author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Founding Fathers, The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution, and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of South Carolina. Born in Virginia, he received a B.A. in history from Salisbury University in Maryland. He lives with his wife and children near Phenix City, Alabama, just across the river from Columbus, Georgia.


BOOK BITES: End of the Year Reviews of Three Nonfiction Books

* * *

So you want to succeed in business? Contrary to the title of the famous musical and movie, you have to try, really try, and there's still no written guarantee of success. Bill McBean is just the guy to give you some advice. He spent many of his nearly forty years as a successful business owner in the automobile industry where, among many other achievements, he purchased several underperforming dealerships and turned them into a successful business enterprise with yearly sales of more than $160 million.


Since selling the company to the world's largest automotive retailer, AutoNation, McBean has been involved in several new businesses, including McBean Partners, an investment and business mentoring company, and Net Claims Now, which provides administrative services and support to the restoration industry.


In his "The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows that You Don't" (Wiley, hardcover, 336 pages, $24.95). McBean says that being a successful business owner means more than knowing one’s industry and understanding the basic concepts of leadership, management, or motivation. It means being able to master many areas of business, and knowing how each of these areas relate to and build on each other. It also means understanding how those areas change as a business goes through its inevitable life cycle, and how the owner must be prepared to change with them. "The Facts of Business Life" is the first book designed to provide readers with the means of achieving the kind of long-term understanding that is the key to true and lasting success.


Toward that end, the book covers the seven Facts of Business Life that every successful business owner knows, including: “If You Don’t Lead, No One Will Follow,” “If You Don’t Control It, You Don’t Own It,” “Protecting Your Company’s Assets Should be Your First Priority,” “Planning Is About Preparing for the Future, Not Predicting It,” “If You Don’t Market Your Business, You Won’t Have One,” “The Marketplace Is a War Zone,” and “You Don’t Just Have to Know the Business You’re In, You Have to Know Business.”


Devoting one chapter to each Fact, the book explains what it is, what it means, and, most important, how it can help entrepreneurs achieve success and stay away from potentially harmful mistakes. Equally important, each chapter enables readers to not only understand the Facts on their own, but also in terms of how they impact on a business as it passes through each of the five levels of every successful company’s existence: “Ownership and Opportunity,” “Creating Your Company’s DNA,” “From Survival to Success,” “Maintaining Success,” and “Moving On When It’s Time to Go.”


* * *


BOOK BITES: End of the Year Reviews of Three Nonfiction Books

If you're into economics of the supply side/libertarian school, get your hands on a copy of "Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century" (Regnery, 494 pages, foreword by Steve Forbes, $29.95). Be prepared for some heavy reading, but reading that's important. For you conservatives, the long nightmare continues for another four years, but it can't last forever (well, maybe it can if Hillary runs and wins in 2016!)



When George Gilder first published "Wealth and Poverty" in 1981, the book was an instant classic, becoming the economics bible of the unfolding Reagan revolution. “Not since the Gilded Age of the late 1800s has anyone advanced so enthusiastic an endorsement of capitalism and capitalists,” observed the New York Times.


Now, amid the Obama administrations redistributionist zeal, industrial planning schemes, vandalistic energy policies, demonization of wealth-creating entrepreneurs, and Keynesian spending programs, Gilder returns to the fray with an updated edition of his famous tome.


Thirty years after his paean to free enterprise shocked the Washington establishment, have the collapse of Enron, the economic meltdown of 2008, the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and other events caused Gilder to reassess his devotion to capitalism? In a way, they have. As Gilder states in this edition, “It is clear that we, the original supply siders, bear some responsibility for the failure to persuade. All these years later, it has become clear that we were not radical enough.”


Dissatisfied with half-hearted defenses of capitalism as the least bad system available, Wealth and Povertypassionately extols the morality, compassion, and efficacy of free enterprise. Buoyed by the collapse of communism but disturbed by the return of socialism under new guises, Gilder argues in a new prologue and epilogue that the solution to Americas current economic troubles cannot be found in warmed-over socialism, but in the generosity and economic vitality that can only be unleashed by the free market.


As President Obama's policies lend Gilders arguments a shocking new relevancy, Gilder reminds us why The New Yorker called him a “scourge of feminists, unrepentant supply-sider, and now…a technology prophet.” Featuring a new foreword by Steve Forbes, this edition of "Wealth and Poverty" informs us that free enterprise is the core of freedom—and that nations which forget or ignore that historical lesson will not and cannot prosper.


Hailed as “the guide to capitalism,” the New York Times bestseller Wealth and Poverty by George F. Gilder is one of the most famous economic books of all time and has sold more than one million copies since its first release. In this influential classic, Gilder explains and makes the case for supply-side economics, proves the moral superiority of free-market capitalism, and shows why supply-side economics are more effective at decreasing poverty than government-regulated markets.


Gilder compares Americas current economic challenges with her past economic problems-–particularly those of the late 1970s-–and explains why Obama's big-government, redistributive policies are doing more harm than good for the poor.


Making the case that supply-side economics and free market policies are–and always will be–the answer to decreasing Americas poverty rate and increasing her prosperity, Wealth and Poverty offers solutions to Americas current economic problems and hope to those who fear that our best days are behind us.



From the New Prologue


The United States over the last decade has witnessed a classic confrontation between the forces of entrepreneurial capitalism and those of established institutions claiming a higher virtue, expertise, and political standing. One side subsists on unforced profits of enterprise; the other on rents and tolls and privileges at the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the White House.


The wealth of America is not an inventory of goods; it is an organic living entity, a fragile pulsing fabric of ideas, expectations, loyalties, moral commitments, and visions. To vivisect it for redistribution is to kill it. As President Mitterands French technocrats discovered in the 1980s, and President Obamas quixotic American ecocrats are discovering today, government managers of complex systems of wealth soon find they are administering an industrial corpse, a socialized Solyndra.


About the Author


George Gilder, born 1939, is a New York Times best-selling author, journalist, and preeminent economic thinker who is credited with helping develop the supply-side economic theory. He has served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, was Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and is also the co-founder of the Discovery Institute. Gilder is the author of many popular books including Wealth and Poverty and has written for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Forbes, and more. Gilder lives with his wife in New York.


* * *


I'll have more reviews like this before the end of the year. Happy reading!

Comments powered by Disqus