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Catalonia, in the southeastern corner of Spain, is in the news.[Catalonia Government Declares Overwhelming Vote for Independence, by Raphael Minder, NYT, Oct 6, 2017] I was there once, back in my salad days, on my way to a camping vacation down the coast at a sleepy little whitewashed village named Oropesa del Mar, now all... Read More
As deplorable as we Badwhites are, our medieval forebears were deplorabler. Here’s one: Geoffrey le Barbu (“the Bearded”), Count of Anjou, around a.d. 1065: Now that’s Badwhite! (Geoffrey, by the way, was a great-granduncle of the English King Henry II, first of the Plantagenet Dynasty. His younger brother, who rejoiced in the epithet Fulk the... Read More
"The National Question: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity In the 21st Century"
[As reported here last week, I was scheduled to speak to a student group at Williams College in Massachusetts on Monday, February 22nd. However, the President of Williams College, Adam Falk [Email him] , banned me from his campus on the grounds that I am a speaker of “hate speech.” For updates, check out the... Read More
If everyone moves, things will get crowded. Credit: VDare.com.
How will the mass invasions of European or European-founded nations by the wretched refuse of the Third World’s teeming shores work out? I see five scenarios: Scenario One: Absorption. All will be well. The migrants, in whatever numbers choose to come, will enrich and energize our tired, aging societies. They will take on our liberal... Read More
The Great Northeastern Birthday Tour. Highlight of the month was another long car trip. I have posted the itinerary and some pictures here. This was payback to Mrs. Derbyshire, who back in June sat patient and uncomplaining through my birthday tour of Civil War battlefields. Her birthday’s in October, so we did what she wanted... Read More
On October 3rd, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Immigration Act. The 1965 Act did two big things, and a multitude of small ones. The first big thing it did: abolish the oldNational-Origins quotas, established in 1921, revised in 1924 and 1929. The idea of the quotas was to maintain demographic stability by... Read More
In my morning trawl through the news websites, I scan the European and British ones with a growing sense of horror. Europe’s crisis of illegal immigration just gets worse. Chilton Williamson, in his recent fine essay Beyond “Immigration”[Chronicles, August 2015] described it as “national and cultural suicide. Such a thing is unknown in the history... Read More
Every nation has, in its collective psyche, a special place for its bloodiest war: a place warmed with intense emotions and turbulent with unresolved—probably unresolvable—controversies. For Americans that place is occupied by the Civil War, the 150th anniversary of whose ending in April 1865 we have just gotten through commemorating. I have the Civil War... Read More
All proper congratulations to David Cameron, elected last week as Prime Minister of Britain on the Conservative Party ticket. I can’t say I repose any great hopes that Cameron will actually conserve anything; but then, Britain’s not my country, so the stakes for me are merely tribal (the Anglosphere), civilizational (the West), and sentimental (I... Read More
Who was the great villain of the 20th century—the person most to blame for the evils of those decades? The stock answer is the person whose name is an anagram of “HEIL! OLD FART.” I disagree. It seems to me the title properly belongs to Lenin, the guy who really got the totalitarian ball rolling.... Read More
I have been reading Paul Johnson’s new short biography of Dwight Eisenhower. This fulfills a long-standing intention of the feebler kind—a velleity, Bill Buckley would have said. Thus: In his 1983 book Modern Times, Paul Johnson made a point of talking up U.S. presidents then regarded by orthodox historians as second-rate or worse: Harding, Coolidge,... Read More
I have taken another trip on my syllogismobile to an alternate universe. Among the artifacts I brought back with me was A.J. Braithwaite’s History of Britain (2011 edition), a standard text for British schoolchildren in that universe. The following extracts are from the final chapter, titled “Britain since 1945.” Britain and Ireland became Soviet satellites... Read More
Hard Road Home, by Ye Fu
Taking humanity at large, perhaps the greatest service any person of our time could perform for future generations would be to bring rational, consensual government to China. That such a populous nation, with such high general levels of industriousness and intelligence, and with such a glittering cultural legacy, should be ruled by a clique of... Read More
The myth of the rational actor.
I was in England for Remembrance Sunday this year. The wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph was very moving. I had forgotten how much emotion the British invest in this and how high a proportion is imaginatively keyed to WWI. Remembrance Sunday is defined to be the Sunday closest to Armistice Day, November 11, when the... Read More
Nathan Bedford Forrest remembered.
Here is a thing that happened in the Civil War. If you know your Civil War minutiae, it’ll be familiar to you, in which case I beg your pardon. I can’t resist a good story. A young lieutenant of the war angered his general by abandoning two artillery pieces to the enemy. The general ordered... Read More
What a lot there is to know about the War Between the States!
Talk about biting off more than you can chew! Since taking up the Civil War (War Between the States, War of Northern Aggression, whatever) as a part-time study, I’ve been getting emails from friends and readers asking me what I’ve learned. The main thing I’ve learned is how impossibly much there is to learn. Goodness,... Read More
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Allen C. Guelzo
To write a book about the Battle of Gettysburg is as audacious an enterprise as Robert E. Lee's Pennsylvania campaign itself. Allen Guelzo, in this book's Acknowledgments, tells us that the 2004 edition of a standard bibliography lists 6,193 "books, articles, chapters, and pamphlets on the battle," along with a 128-page magazine, published twice yearly... Read More
Margaret Thatcher had some direct impact on my life in three ways that I can recall. One. In January 1979, four months before she assumed office as prime minister, I left England for a trip to the Far East. I was quite affluent at the time (sigh…) and was planning a long nonworking stay out... Read More
A grandchild of two coal miners loses a parent.
Following the betrayal and defenestration of Margaret Thatcher by her colleagues in November 1990, the Daily Telegraph offered for sale a commemorative coffee mug adorned with a picture of the lady. I immediately placed an order, and that commemorative mug has held pride of place in our family glassware cabinet ever since. Having learned as... Read More
One set of lectures and I'm hooked.
Growing up in England, one didn’t hear much about the American Civil War. England’s own Civil War loomed larger in our education and imaginations, though it had been fought two centuries earlier than the American conflict. A key battle in our Civil War took place a dozen miles from my hometown. As school kids, we... Read More
Chronicles of wasted time.
It’s a slow news week and I’m temporarily out of outrageous opinions, so here are my recollections of being down and out in Southeast Asia in 1972. Apologies to George Orwell, with whom I am not attempting to compete. I would not dare. It took me three months—late June to late September—of pick-up work teaching... Read More
Remembering a brave soldier
Here is a story from World War Two. The place is the island of Crete; the date, May of 1941. The Wehrmacht was busily occupying Greece. The British expeditionary force in that country, overwhelmed, was being evacuated. Some of the Allied troops were moved to Crete, to fortify the rudimentary defenses of the place. They... Read More
"Minister Farrakhan" to you.
That's how things went in old New England, according to David Hackett Fischer in Albion's Seed. I can relate, having just watched Louis Farrakhan's address to the Nation of Islam Savior's Day conference on February 27. Farrakhan was speaking to an audience of 18,000 followers in Rosemont, Illinois. The full video of the speech is... Read More
The High Tide of American Conservatism: Davis, Coolidge, and the 1924 Election, by Garland S. Tucker III
The 1924 presidential election was, on the face of it, a snoozer. The major-party candidates were Calvin Coolidge (Republican) and John W. Davis (Democrat). Both were conservative — sensationally so by today's standards. As Garland Tucker notes in this enjoyable and informative book: "There were … very few philosophical differences between Davis and Coolidge." Both... Read More
Out of Mao's Shadow, by Philip P. Pan
Reading Philip Pan's fine book — somewhat late: it came out in June last year: I am sorry — I was reminded of one of those caustic jokes that used to circulate in Brezhnev's U.S.S.R. Coming up to its 60th birthday, Communist China has not actually run out of bullets, any more than the U.S.S.R.... Read More
The Age of Wonder, by Richard Holmes
May 7 this year marked the fiftieth anniversary of C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures" speech in Cambridge, England. There were some scattered commemorations. Roger Kimball, writing in the February 1994 issue of The New Criterion, had already noted the naïvety and incoherence of Snow's arguments, yet allowed that there was a grain of truth in them:... Read More
Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1900, by Charles Allen
There are three stories to be told about Rudyard Kipling. First there is the straightforward biography, telling us what the man did and what happened to him. There have been many of these, Andrew Lycett's 1999 Rudyard Kipling being the most highly regarded of recent efforts — justly, in my opinion. For a much slighter... Read More
Watching the Door, by Kevin Myers
The recent killings in Northern Ireland have everybody over there wondering whether this is a dying sputter of republican terrorism, or the beginning of a new round of "Troubles." Two British soldiers were killed on the evening of March 7, when they went to the gate of their compound to accept an ordered-in pizza delivery.... Read More
The Poems of Mao Zedong, edited and translated by William Barnstone
The Belgian sinologist Pierre Ryckmans (pen-name "Simon Leys") was once asked for his opinion of Mao Tse-tung's poetry. He replied: "Well, if poetry were painting, I would say that Mao was better than Hitler … but not as good as Churchill." Ryckmans' quip[*] suggests the moral dilemma in confronting Mao's poetry. Imagine yourself at an... Read More
Olympic Dreams, by Xu Guoqi
A favorite piece of expat lore among foreigners in early 20th-century China concerned the Chinese government official who called on some Western friends one hot day just as they were starting a game of tennis. They invited him to watch, so he took a seat in the shade, had a servant bring him some green... Read More
The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In, by Hugh Kennedy
God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 to 1215, by David Levering Lewis
Here are two very different history books covering some of the same territory: the early conquests of Islam. Hugh Kennedy's book is the more comprehensive and scholarly, with detailed accounts of all the Arab advances into Africa, Asia, and Europe up to the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in A.D. 750. David Levering Lewis writes... Read More
The Raj Quartet, by Paul Scott
In the early weeks of 1984, for an hour each Tuesday and Sunday evening, a strange silence fell over England, or at any rate over the bourgeois precincts thereof. Streets were deserted; bartenders and waiters dozed idle at their stations; theaters and cinemas played to half-empty houses; telephones and doorbells went unanswered. The English middle... Read More
Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—And Why They Fall, Amy Chua, Doubleday; 432 pages
Four years ago, Amy Chua published a striking book entitled World on Fire in which she drew our attention to an important contradiction inherent in the globalization project. Globalization, she argued, disproportionately benefits “market-dominant minorities” like the Jewish “oligarchs” of Yeltsin’s Russia or her own relatives, the overseas Chinese of southeast Asia. Globalization is thus... Read More
The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 B.C. to the Present, by Harry G. Gelber
Ocean to the east, mountains to the west, steppe to the north, jungle to the south: no wonder the ancient Chinese felt themselves to be in the middle of everything. At the dawn of Chinese history proper, around 800 B.C., the land regions just outside the borders of the Chinese culture zone were known to... Read More
On The Corner the other day, by way of commemorating the centenary of the sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlein, I posted Heinlein's contribution to the 1950s radio series "This I Believe." Eschewing any religious or metaphysical affirmations, Heinlein laid out his social credo: Heinlein went on to praise the charity and conscientiousness of his fellow... Read More
Calvin Coolidge, by David Greenberg
While Calvin Coolidge will probably never make the top ten in those rankings of our presidents that emerge periodically from academic surveys, his reputation has been considerably rehabilitated over the past 40 years from the depths to which the New Deal historians consigned it. His strengths as chief executive are now appreciated, and the immense... Read More
Osman's Dream, by Caroline Finkel
How much space does the Ottoman Empire occupy in the mind of an average well-educated Westerner of today? I called a representative specimen of such and asked him to free-associate on the phrase "Ottoman Empire." He: "Um, Manzikert … fall of Constantinople … Lepanto … gates of Vienna … sick man of Europe … Armenian... Read More
Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, by Robert C. Davis
Presented with the word "slavery," what comes to your mind? If you are an American, it is surely the race slavery that was a feature of life here for 250 years, that continued through the early decades of the Republic in some states, and that caused divisions that led to the Civil War, the bloodiest... Read More
La Belle France: A Short History, by Alistair Horne
As a true-born Englishman, I took Francophobia in with my mother's milk — or, at any rate, with my mother's reflex response, when anyone mentioned our neighbors across the Channel, that "they let us down in the War." This settled in my infant mind as a sort of Homeric epithet: the French who-let-us-down-in-the-War. My father... Read More
Henry R. Luce, Time, and the American Crusade in Asia, by Robert E. Herzstein
I am not sure that the United States can claim full credit for having invented the weekly newsmagazine, but certainly that staple of modern middlebrow world culture was brought to full maturity by two Americans, Henry R. Luce and Briton Hadden, co-founders of Time magazine, the first issue of which they produced in March 1923.... Read More
His name was an anagram of "The Death."
Some random reflections on Ted Heath, Prime Minister of the U.K. 1970-74, who died on Sunday. ————————— Ye banks an' braes o' bonny Central. Ted Heath's premiership represented the high tide of bureaucratic managerialism in Britain. Its most characteristic expression was the reorganization of the old British county system, so that ancient creations like Kircudbrightshire... Read More
The Edwardians, by Roy Hattersley
I am not sure how much the title of this book means to an American reader, or what connotations the word "Edwardian" has over here. Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria, ruled Britain and her empire from 1901 to 1910. In the common usage of British people, though, the Edwardian age is always taken... Read More
Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short
"I have lived 78 years without hearing of bloody places like Cambodia," Winston Churchill was once heard to remark. Now, of course, we have all heard of Cambodia. It was there, in the 1970s, that one of the most drastic programs of social engineering in all of history was carried out. The Khmer Rouge, a... Read More
http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Reviews/Considerations/duggan.html
————————— It is no use making any large claims for historical fiction. As is the case with with science fiction, the historical genre certainly has its masterpieces; but with very few exceptions — Henry Esmond, perhaps, War and Peace, and one or two others — even these masterpieces are understood to dwell in a realm... Read More
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, by Bradley K. Martin
When the North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung died in 1994 and his son Kim Jong-il took over leadership of the country, I thought, in common with most observers, that the communist regime was done for. Kim Sr., though he had originally been installed by Stalin as a tool of Soviet policy, had had a genuine... Read More
How did I hate Hero, the newest box-office-bustin' Chinese sword'n'skyhook movie? Let me count the ways. ————————— • I hated the endless swordfight scenes. To call them "swordfight scenes" is in fact a stretch, as they bear as much relation to actual swordfights as The Flintstones does to family life in the Upper Paleolithic. The... Read More
This month marks the 90th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, perhaps the great civilizational catastrophe of the past half-millennium. (Principal contender: The collapse of Chinese Imperial civilization following the mid-19th-century encounter with the West.) For anyone raised in Britain, WW1 has a powerful emotional pull. I've written about this myself on this... Read More
Cole Porter
As the 20th century recedes into some kind of perspective, I think we are beginning to understand that it was, from the point of view of creative achievement, pretty much a waste of time. I was not at all surprised to see that Charles Murray's recent book Human Accomplishment offers statistical confirmation of this melancholy... Read More
A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle With the Modern World, by Rana Mitter
Until very recently Chinese intellectual life had a peculiar frozen-in-time quality. Intellectual fads that, in the West, had come and gone in the early or middle years of the twentieth century, were regarded as exciting and new. I can recall, around 1982-3, being eagerly quizzed by Chinese acquaintances about topics like existentialism, Esperanto, and psychoanalysis.... Read More
Anniversaries are, of course, of merely numerological significance. If God in His wisdom had given us six fingers on each hand instead of five, then we should have to wait 144 years to celebrate the centenary of a great man, and there would be 1,728 years in a millennium. As it is, we nod in... Read More
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John Derbyshire
About John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His most recent book, published by VDARE.com com is FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.


Personal Classics
Limbaugh and company certainly entertain. But a steady diet of ideological comfort food is no substitute for hearty intellectual fare.
Once as a colonial project, now as a moral playground, the ancient continent remains the object of Great Power maneuvering