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The culture of freedom

Books | Books on libertarianism, the news media, and World War II

Issue: "Follow the Greenback Road," Jan. 25, 1997

One of the most influential intellectual movements of late is libertarianism. Not to be confused with libertinism, libertarianism is the modern extension of the classical liberal philosophy that birthed the American Revolution. David Boaz of the Cato Institute has produced two volumes that are essential to understanding this philosophy and its relevance to politics today.

In Libertarianism, Mr. Boaz explains what libertarianism is all about: its historical roots, major tenets, and positions on current issues. Of particular interest to readers will be Mr. Boaz's emphasis on civil society. He advocates an America made up not of greedy individuals acting alone, but of caring individuals acting in community with one another. His point is that voluntary association and cooperation are the best practical and only moral means of forming meaningful human relationships.

A complementary volume is The Libertarian Reader, in which Mr. Boaz has collected a host of essays on libertarian themes. He leads off with God's warning after the Jewish people ask for a king, in 1 Samuel 8:1-22. Other selections include Adam Smith, James Madison, Alexis de Toqueville, and yours truly.

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Former Sen. Alan Simpson takes on the media in Right in the Old Gazoo. He is wrong in many of his positions, like those concerning abortion and immigration, but what he has to say on the media deserves respectful attention.

The positive potential of the media is highlighted in The Oxford History of World Cinema, one of a series of cultural histories from Oxford University Press. This mammoth collection of essays covers the silent era, early classics, and modern movies. There are articles on actors and directors, trends, and cinema in

different countries around the globe. If you are interested in film, World Cinema is truly a must read.

The negative potential of the military became evident to voters in Okinawa, who voted overwhelmingly to reduce America's military presence on the islands. Killing Ground on Okinawa reviews the bloody struggle for control of those islands a half century ago. Newspaperman James Hallas concentrates on the brutal fight over one critical hill; his book serves as a powerful reminder of the tragic sacrifice of soldiers in every war.

Morbid but fascinating is The Death of Hitler, in which an English and Russian journalist collaborate to explore the denouement of Adolf Hitler and his remains. No libertarian he. The surreal saga of the Fuehrer bunker and the bizarre Soviet intrigues afterwards make great reading. It's almost like learning about the latest sighting of Elvis.

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