S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer Book Review

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics

Book Review
S. Martin Shelton

Charles Krauthammer, Crown Forum, New York, 2013, 388 pp.  Table of Contents. Acknowledgements, and an Index.

Krauthammer includes ninety plus columns, quips, and screeds on topics that matter to him and ought to matter to us.  His comments were previously published in the Washington Post, Time, The New Republic and “other places.”  He makes no pretense to be objective.  He views the world, its inhabitations, and their foibles through his conservative lens.  He discerns the essence of a topic, fashion, or folly, and through keen erudition tells us what we cannot perceive and why we should care.

He’s divided his book into four parts: Personal, Political, Historical and Global.

Personal:   In his first year in medical school at Harvard University, Krauthammer had a diving accident rendering him a quadriplegic.  Nonetheless, with unbridled courage and undaunted determination, he earned his Medical Doctor degree, and after a three-year residency, he became a psychiatrist.   He tackles a host of topic related to “personal”̶ ranging from “No Dancing in the End Zone” to “Are We Alone in the Universe.” Reflecting on modern art, he opines, “The avant-garde (the artists)* lives by a code of fearless audacity and uncompromising authenticity.”

Political:  Overall, his disdain for the political establishment is paramount.  Here is one quote that exemplifies his scorn, “Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians (the politicians).*   Fail to keep them at bay and everything burns.”   In this section his topics range from “Did the State Make You Great?” to “Collective Guilt, Collective Responsibility.”

Historical:  In this section he focuses on the power of the state, Muslim terrorism, Israel, Cold War nostalgia, and our adventures in the Middle East.  Following are two quotes that set the tone for this section.  “The greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective.”  Perhaps fifty-percent of this section is devoted to discussions of Israel.  For example, “Land for peace, yes.  Land without peace is nothing but an invitation to national suicide.”

Global Krauthammer points his pen at America’s role in the world.  His comments are pointedly realistic and caustic.  He does not have much use for our current administration and its inept foreign relations.  Here is just one example of his disdain, “The results (of Obama’s plaintive cry hoping that saying something makes it so) is visible ambivalence that leads to vacillating policy reeking of incoherence.”

No matter your political bent, Things That Matter is a must read. It may well reset your bent.

* my comments.

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