From the declaration of bias, to the footnotes, recommendations on additional research and a thorough index, there is a lot to like in Richard MayburyFrom the declaration of bias, to the footnotes, recommendations on additional research and a thorough index, there is a lot to like in Richard Maybury's letter formatted style. Of the 11 books in the Uncle Eric series, I have read 2 previously and I wasn't planning on reading this selection next. However, my incredible frustration with the 2016 election cycle in general and the conventions in particular lead me to this 26 letter, 120ish page book.
I'm glad it did.
The clear explanations contained in each chapter provided a sort of detox from the news reporting. Uncle Eric promotes the Juris naturalism/ libertarianism he espouses while covering the breadth of American political terminology in an engaging epistolary style. With the exception of Chapter 14 "What are they really?" which contains Uncle Eric's Test for Capital Investment, I found the book an elucidating tonic to today's political climate. The Chapters "The Effects on Business" and "Who Gets the Children" were particularly compelling.
As with other titles, I don't find myself agreeing with everything, but I find Uncle Eric's writing challenging and valuable at furthering understanding. Come into it willing to think and you will not be disappointed.
While previous titles I've read (See WWI and WWII) apply Uncle Eric's principles to the twentieth-century world conflicts, this book is a more concrete endeavor to provide a common basis for terminology in the increasingly murky waters of political discussion. As such, it is a good fit for curious middle schoolers or junior highers requiring government study. ...more
A faithful retelling of the Disney movie in both narrative and illustration, this book was longish for the age of child that would be draw to it. It wA faithful retelling of the Disney movie in both narrative and illustration, this book was longish for the age of child that would be draw to it. It was good, but nothing exceptional beyond the story that is popularly familiar.
Parts of the book are scary, and the literary format may provide a less intense introduction to the story for sensitive or young children than the film version.
This book would also be both exciting preparation or a lovely memento of the Broadway production. ...more
From the declaration of bias, to the footnotes, recommendations on additional research and a thorough index, there is a lot to like in Richard MayburyFrom the declaration of bias, to the footnotes, recommendations on additional research and a thorough index, there is a lot to like in Richard Maybury's letter formatted style. See my review of World War I for my thoughts on my first exposure to him. This is a valuable work for anyone to consider, but please don't assume that means I agree with everything!
I don't know if the two books together was too long of a slog, but there seemed to be a lot more repetition in this book than WWI. The alternative theories of history are compelling: Roosevelt's embrace of his own demigod, the manipulation of the Japanese to create excuse for American entrance into the war, America's lengthening of the war, seeds of the cold war and the message to the Russians sent by the dropping of the atomic bomb. One thing is abundantly clear in all narratives of WWII, liberal, conservative, or libertarian: the Allies made a contract with the devil via engagement with Stalin.
In the end, while I find the arguments interesting and compelling, I also find some strong limitations with the overall big picture of Uncle Eric's reasoning. What makes him think that people of the New World are, or should be expected to be, any different from those of the Old World? The reality is that the human race, with all it's glories and depravities, is in fact more similar than different in lacking righteousness - no matter how much each tries to convince of the ideals of it's cause in conflict. I also find his New World argument to be one from silence. It is true that we don't have RECORD of nearly as many human lives lost through military engagement in the New World verses the Old World, but to conclude that 1) military conflicts never happened because a record doesn't survive and 2) that the New World is somehow ideologically free from the conflicts known to humanity, seems foolish.
Many of Uncle Eric's arguments are supported by information known AFTER THE POINT OF DECISION. Yes, Stalin did turn out to be responsible for more deaths than Hitler. But the OUTCOME of their respective lives was not known at the time decisions were made about WWII. And surely the length of Stalin's life in comparison to Hilter's added him in furthering his attacks on human life around him. While there are some reports via governments and journalists about what was going on in Germany, Japan or Russia, that proved to be true, there were also many inaccurate reports. Only hindsight has the benefit of knowing one from the other. We should evaluate the wisdom of decisions made, but it need to be done with grace for in the moment limitations of the leaders who made them.
Along the same vein, how can Uncle Eric be certain that his strategy of nonintervention would have been successful in 1) allowing Hitler and Stalin to defeat each other with USA and Briton standing by to mop up one or the other? or 2) Preserving Briton even as Hilter was intent on invading? or 3) reducing the loss of life accrued in through the entirety of the conflict. Nonintervention has worked well for Switzerland, but what are they to do if attacked? Fight only to their border? And what would have happened to Switzerland had England fallen? Would Hilter have eventually turned his sights to them? And then would it have been to their detriment to stand alone after others that could have been allies had fallen? Wasn't this what England did? How many countries (and their resources) were sacrificed to Hilter before there was unified opposition? It seems to me it is much easier to be non-intervention when YOUR nation/ home/ life is not threatened. But, this also feeds to Uncle Eric's point that alliances favor weaker countries and lead to conflict - a point President Washington emphasized in his final address.
I find his criticism of the British Empire interesting. Partly, because it runs counter cultural to the American historical flow. While he is clear on the ills of colonialism, he doesn't engage on either the benefits in commerce, economy, cultural preservation, travel/ naval/ steam/ engineering skill TO THE COLONIES, or reinforcement in the World conflict that came back TO THE BRITISH via their empire. Nor does he even acknowledge either the tremendous shift in British foreign policy via the creation of the Commonwealth of nations or the roots of the Empire (that go through USA) in rising English as the dominant language and culture of the twenty-first century. Lest you think I am going beyond his scope, late chapters on how the events of WWII fed into the September 11th attacks on the USA in the context of blowback to America and her allies clearly put these shifting factors into purview. While he does document the great atrocities of the USG (US Government) in the Cold War period - grievous failures all - he does so with the benefit of hindsight and without reference to tremendous progress in other areas. Blowback is not the only reasonable explanation for Sept 11th. I'm not saying it shouldn't be considered as a factor, but to raise blowback as the primary force in the conflict between USA and radical Islam seems sophomoric. As he stated, the cycle of the Old World is one of revenge in which the lines are so long no one can trace the origins of the conflict between groups. Furthermore, he says the first fatality in war is truth. Surely these two principles would reasonably lead to the query: Isn't it true that those who WANT to fight can always find reason (true or false) to rally men to their supposed cause? And it's corollary: It is very difficult to make peace with people who WANT to fight. Neither of these principles are addressed.
I kept on thinking: if things had been different, they would have been different.
Finally, Uncle Eric's appeals to his nephew for temperance and caution as he approaches the age at which young men are romanced into soldiery are welcome. However, once a man has been enlisted, I would think Uncle Eric's experience as a soldier would inform him that soldiers do not have the luxury of such intellectual evaluation of either their missions or their outcomes. He seems to state that Chris should avoid military service because of the evils of political power, but he never deals with the reality that he, himself, Uncle Eric was DRAFTED and that sometimes young men cannot avoid the call of their governments, no matter how imperfect. Nor does he reconcile his ideas about self-defense of a nation with military service - I guess you should train yourself to defend yourself but avoid military service to defend the nation?
And yet, we have a rather succinct accounting - with it's strengths and flaws - of the libertarian narrative of twentieth century history. Liberal accounts are easy to find, conservative somewhat more challenging, but libertarian thoughts are on the outer perimeter. The perspective also articulates a clear opposition to the big government statism that has eclipsed both liberals and conservatives in the early twenty-first century and therefore has tremendous value. In the world of ideas, I think this perspective deserves a succinct, approachable, presentation to students from Junior High and beyond. The ideas merit a hearing.
My concluding thought is the same as with the previous book on World War I, "The question is not whether to have your student read this book, but when? A student needs to demonstrate both the ability to handle cause and effect thinking as well as be comfortable with sorting out contrary ideas. When the student has reached that point, this is excellent education, even if he or the teacher, doesn't agree with all that is printed."
I plan on reading the rest of this series including "1000 Year War in the Middle East" and "What ever happened to Penny Candy?", but for right now, I think I need a break from Uncle Eric. ...more