David Mamet, well-regarded playwright, screenwriter, and director, made kind of a splash a few years back with an essay in The Village Voice titled: "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'". This book is a fuller explanation of those views. (The library at the University Near Here bought it without me even asking. Good for them.)
It's a collection of relatively short chapters/essays. He lists his inspirations in the acknowledgements: Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Whittaker Chambers. (This last via a gift of a copy of Witness from Jon Voight.) Also the radio voices of Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and Glenn Beck. Those are—gosh—pretty good choices.
And if you want to check out what happends when those guys inspire an insightful, colorful, world-class writer, this book is it.
I have quibbles. Mamet attributes the notion of the "constrained" or "tragic" view of the world (as opposed to the "unconstrained"/"anointed" view) to Hayek; I'm pretty sure it should be Sowell.
Mamet is fond of broad and aggressive generalization in support of his arguments. This is red meat to folks like me, and maybe you. Fence-sitters might not be persuaded. For example (page 77):
What is Big Government but the Executive's cocaine dream, an activity devoted solely to jockeying for position, in which he may find license for malversation and may take the company treasury and direct it toward those people who will support his continued incumbency— it is within the law.… I know what he means. Someone else may look at that "solely" and dismiss the whole point, or worse, the whole book.
I'm particularly fond of this anecdote in one of the later chapters:
My daughter had an heiress in her elementary school class.Hell, that's not just an anecdote, that's a f'n parable. Sorry, I'm beginning to type like a Mamet character might talk. But aren't we all, as 21st century USAians, kind of like that little heiress, too many of us forgetting how the berries and yogurt got into our refrigerators?
The two were discussing their various bedtimes. And the heiress said that every evening, at ten o'clock, she went to the small refrigerator in her room, and took out her usual snack: fresh berries and organic yogurt dripped with honey.
My daughter asked, "Who puts it there?"
The heiress paused for a while, and said, "… I don't know."