Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Literature

Why Read Old Books?

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

We all know the usual reasons why we are prodded to read the classics — moving characters, seminal ideas, blueprints of our culture, and paradigms of sterling prose and poetry. Then we nod and snooze. Read more →

A Summer With Virgil

by Bruce S. Thornton

Defining Ideas

“To read the Latin & Greek authors in their original,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “is a sublime luxury.” Fortunately, for those who don’t read Greek and Latin, the great works of Classical literature are available in first-rate translations. The following five classics are some of the best works from the astonishing variety and brilliance of Greek and Roman literature. Read more →

Weaponized Romanticism

by Craig Bernthal

Private Papers

At the beginning of the 20th century, T. E. Hulme, in his great essay “Romanticism v. Classicism” defined Romanticism as “spilt religion.” Read more →

So Why Read Anymore?

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

Is Reading Good Books Over?

There is great “truth and beauty” in Homer’s Iliad [1], but I would not try to make his sale on such platitudes. Read more →

A Tale and Taste of Ancient Greece: The End of Sparts Reviewed

Editorial

Publishers Weekly

Leading classicist Hanson (The Father of Us All) focuses on the Theban defeat of the renowned Spartan army in 371 B.C.E. Read more →

The Cheney Memoir: Hype and Reality

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

I’m about halfway through the new Cheney memoir, In My Time, and it does not at all resemble the media’s description of it — a highly controversial book preoccupied with scoring points against rivals — which suggests that many of those who have written about it have not read it. Read more →

God Is Not Dead

A Review of Cornelius Hunter’s trilogy.

by Terry Scambray

The Chesterton Review

Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil (Brazos Press, 2001, 189 pp.)
Darwin’s Proof: The Triumph of Religion over Science (Brazos Press, 2003, 168 pp.)
Science’s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism (Brazos Press, 2007, 170 pp.) Read more →

Rumsfeld’s Rebuttal

by Victor Davis Hanson

City Journal

A review of Known and Unknown: A Memoir by Donald Rumsfeld (Sentinel, 832 pp.) Read more →

Egypt on the Brink: Bradley Reveals Instability in Modern Egypt

by Raymond Ibrahim

Middle East Quarterly

A review of Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution by John R. Bradley (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

To the general reader, Inside Egypt is a good introduction to some of the problems rife in the most populous, Arabic-speaking country. From regime corruption and oppression, to widespread poverty and discontent, to human rights abuses and the plight of Egypt’s minorities, most of the important issues are here. Bradley, formerly a Middle-East-based foreign correspondent, also provides useful insights, such as how the current regime exploits the West’s fear of the Muslim Brotherhood to its advantage.

Unfortunately, there is a myopic tendency to view nearly every problem in Egypt as a byproduct of Husni Mubarak, Egypt’s president since 1981, and in Bradley’s view, the “most corrupt offender of them all.” Even things one might have supposed were products of time or chance—from the condition of Egypt’s Bedouin, who have led the same desperate lifestyle for centuries, to the radicalization of Muslims, a worldwide phenomenon—are somehow traced back to Mubarak.

While the Mubarak regime is responsible for many of Egypt’s woes, blaming all of the nation’s problems on it is misleading. By minimizing the Islamization of society and the influence of the Brotherhood, which the author claims “has made only limited inroads into the mainstream” since Egypt’s Muslims are “intolerant of extremist Sunni doctrine,” Bradley moves from fact-based evidence to conjecture and, perhaps, wishful thinking.

Indeed, this is the book’s chief problem. Bradley is convinced that, given a chance, through the elimination of Mubarak, Egyptians would create a liberal, egalitarian, and gender-neutral society. This tendency to project things that are important to the author (though often not to Egyptians) is highlighted by his fixation on homosexuality in Egypt. The topic permeates the entire book, including a rather out-of-place section recounting the in-and-outs of Western gay tourism in Luxor.

In short, while the book is a good primer for novices to Egypt’s culture and politics, the author’s own proclivities mar his objectivity. And while he is convinced that Egypt is a byproduct of Mubarak, one is left wondering instead whether Mubarak is a byproduct of Egypt.

©2011 Raymond Ibrahim

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