Wool

[Amazon Link]

Online chatter about the genesis of this book a few years back caused me to stick it into the to-be-read pile. It's an amateur author's fantasy: write a book, publish it yourself (via Amazon), fall into fame and fortune.

Frankly, I didn't expect it to be as good as it was. But the author, Hugh Howey, writes well and knows how to grab the reader's interest with intriguing plot and sympathetic characters.

It is set in an imaginative dystopia: thousands of people inhabiting a "silo" set deep into the earth. (But is it Earth?) Going outside is deadly. (Or is it?) Yet, every so often someone is sentenced to go outside and clean the sensors with specially designed… wool.

But "wool" also refers to the stuff that is proverbially pulled over one's eyes. As it turns out, like most fictional dystopias, the masses are social-engineered to believe a lot of stuff that isn't true. Will a few brave souls manage to uncover the truth?

My only quibble: there are villains, and they are way too obvious. Might as well twirl their mustaches while cackling evilly.


Last Modified 2018-07-03 3:48 PM EDT

Inventing Freedom

[Amazon Link]

A swell nonfiction book from Daniel Hannan, who is (according to the book flap) a writer, blogger, and a "member of the European Parliament representing South East England for the Conservative Party since 1999." (He blogs here.)

Hannan's subtitle: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World. (If you can't see it over there on the right for yourself, you are probably blocking ads, and you shouldn't, because they are very non-obtrusive on this site, my friend.) We talk a lot about "American exceptionalism" here in the US; Hannan's argument is that it's really Anglospheric exceptionalism. The roots of our uniqueness date back (at least) to the dim history of England's inhabitants, left behind when the Romans decided to pull out. Hannan notes that English destiny was already diverging from the European continent even then. Geography helped:

The Anglosphere is a "more or less" alliance of shared language, ideals, and religion. These commonalities gave rise to limited government, personal liberty, the rule of law, and strong property rights.

Along the way, there is a lot of history. Much of it over my head: I'm regrettably forgetful of my English history (last seen formally in high school, and it was a weak subject for me even then). Hannan is telling history as it relates to his overall thesis, though, so it's best to be skeptical. I would love to see a discussion on the general topic between Hannan and Deirdre McCloskey.

Unfortunately, as Hannan points out, we are drifting away from Anglospheric ideals. Great Britain's sovereignty is being eroded by its European Union membership. The current US President has a long record of minor and major snubs to England, preferring instead to cozy up to random dictators.

Hannan's book closes with a plea, originally made by American revolutionist Joseph Warren, in the context of our historic membership in the liberty-loving Anglosphere: Act worthy of yourselves. One hopes.