Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Book Reviews

In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric R. Kandel. Reviewed by Sherwin Nuland in the New York Times: "We are made of memories. Every moment of our lives brings to a focus the totality of all the moments preceding it. And Kandel's life's work has been to demonstrate that memory, learning and, by extension, every other mental process are the result not of some vague set of unexplainable psychic phenomena but rather of distinctive molecular events determined by the physicochemical qualities of cellular life."

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor. Reviewed by Andrew F. Krepinevich in the Washington Post: "When Rice speaks of the 'strategic' decision to depose Saddam Hussein and his barbaric regime, she is referring to a laudable goal , not a strategy. The war is not over, and good strategy is still very much needed. Cobra II offers an instructive lesson on the consequences of inadequate strategic planning. If its message is heeded, Americans may yet look back on this conflict and recall the words of Georges Clemenceau, France's leader during World War I: 'War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory.'"

The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race and Partisan Change in the Postwar South by Byron E. Shafer and Richard Johnston. Reviewed by Robert Saldin in the New York Post: "The authors don't suggest that racism was absent among the majority white population - only that it wasn't the primary cause for the South's partisan realignment. The real catalyst was postwar economic development and industrialization, which created a new middle class receptive to Republican-style fiscal conservatism. This view suggests the South isn't so different from the rest of the country - it just took Dixie's economy a few more decades to produce the same partisan fissures evident everywhere else."

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