I’ve been doing a lot less book reading lately but last week I took some minor steps to rectify that. I could have finished the two books I’d been putting off reading for months, but instead I checked out David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed & Pat Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War. The latter is on audio CD and I listen to it while driving, the latter I read after midnight before going to sleep.

I had previously thought Buchanan’s book was just about WW2, but it is as much about WW1 and gives the background to that war going back to the late 19th century. It does focus very heavily on Churchill, as he played a major role in both wars, but it focuses on the mistakes of many others (primarily British politicians) as well. One niggle is that it seems like an endless list of blunders without any correct decisions and is completely done in hindsight with little focus on the ex ante rationality of many decisions. Nevertheless it’s quite interesting and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. I’m currently past Munich but before the invasion of Poland.

I was surprised at the length of Fischer’s book and how old it was. People reference it so often that I thought it came out recently, but I guess he simply did such a complete job that there’s no reason to write or reference anything after it. Reading it stirred up the feelings of identification with the Puritan/Roundhead dissenting Protestant tradition that had been stronger when I was younger and the corresponding contempt for the south & Catholicism. The chapter on the Cavaliers is a rather repulsive portrait of a dysfunctional (or to use Banfield’s term “morally backward”) society created rather intentionally. I was reminded while reading it of this from Cavalier-fan Mencius Moldbug. While MM was indicting our own society, his description of the vices engendered by aristocracy fit the Cavaliers to a T. Currently I’m in the section on Quakers, who people should reference instead of the Puritans when it comes to prudery.

On a final unrelated note, I’ve been involved in a big argument at Who is IOZ? on whether the New Left was sensible or deranged (I argue for the latter). In short I agree with Unqualified Offerings commenter John Markley that IOZ was highly selective in his description. My comment about a number of those in the “anti-war” movement merely supporting the Viet Cong was vindicated when another commenter (at IOZ’s) defended his having done so.