.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Pre-emption for Dummies"

So there are worse things than being sick in bed all day today, since that allows me to catch up on some much needed reading of a non-medical textbook nature.

But I was feeling in a sombre mood all day today, politically-inclined which is quite rare for me, so instead of my "Inside the Victorian Home" book which I have yet to finish, I decided to tackle that soigné volume by John Lewis Gaddis called, "Surprise, Security, and the American Experience".

Well it's a book one can polish off at a sitting, since it's less than 160 pages long, including endnotes. I read the back of matchbooks faster than that, and yet...today I am taking my time, fully digesting his points, in what is a sweeping lecture on the structure and ethos of American foreign policy since the Founding Fathers.

Although there are some lapses, such as describing the declaration of war after the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 surprise attacks as "immediate" (Pearl Harbor was, 9/11 took a month to cogitate, and thereto act), his clarity in reuniting the various strains of US foreign policy is truly worthy of applause.

One sometimes feels when reading a book that this is a work that has been a lifetime percolating within -- Bernard Lewis' equally slim volumes have that feel; something he could pen in an afternoon, because it all comes so naturally to him. They're all a lifetime's elbow grease compacted into one narrative account.

That's what I admire most in writing. Synthesis, depth, and grace rolled into one. Not all of us can be Hector Bolitho, but we can try...

P.S.: I knew John Quincy Adams was a fantastic diplomat (with a British-born wife yet), but being the pre-eminent American political strategist of the 19th century came as a surprise to me. Franklin Roosevelt holding that honour for the 20th century, however, did not. I wonder what's around the corner in page 89. Stay tuned.


Post a Comment

Who linked Here:

Create a Link

<< Home


Advertise on blogs
British Expat Blog Directory.