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Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals (available at www.amazon.com) is a stunning collection of lengthy essays about race.  The principal essay identifies the surprising genesis of redneck culture in America, its devastating effect on black culture, and puts the blame exactly where it belongs: on white liberals.  Other essays are equally informative and provocative.  Sowell’s chapter “Black Education: Achievements, Myths and Tragedies” is at once revealing and heartbreaking.  He writes that “[r]acial discrimination barriers kept educated blacks out of some of these occupations [in which education was essential] but, until perhaps the middle of the twentieth century, there were relatively few blacks to be kept out by such barriers.” 

If there were two major issues that divided this nation in the twentieth century, race being one, the other certainly was radicalism.  And there is no better exegesis of the radical experience, personally, politically, and culturally, than that provided by David Horowitz.  He rejected the radicalism of his Communist parents and embraced the principles of national security and individual rights that are today the cornerstone of American conservatism.  Horowitz’s Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey (available at www.frontpagemag.com) is the compelling story of his time on the battlefields of the political and cultural wars that were fought in America from the 1940s to the end of the twentieth century.  In prose often rising to the poetic, he unsparingly bares his personal, psychological, and political soul.  In the end, Horowitz openly admits that “[i]f I knew at the beginning what I have learned, I would not have given my life to the socialist fantasy, or the Panther cause, or marriage to a woman addicted to an illusion.  But I would not now give up the impulse to love or dream that brought me these travails, either.  Or the passion for justice.  Or the will to make myself better.  If ever I were tempted to give up hope, I would only have to look at how far I have come.”

The wars over race and radicalism are, in the end, fights bottomed on the fundamental issue of the nature of this country and the scope of individual rights.  Accordingly, my third choice for summer reading is The Keeper of the Flame (written by me and available at www.booklocker.com), an examination and analysis of Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinions during his fourteen terms on the Supreme Court.  They show  that he understands the appropriate role of a Supreme Court justice, his methodology for proper decision-making, and his position on fundamental constitutional questions, among them federalism, separation of powers, judicial review, and such Bill of Rights issues as abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, and the alleged rights of prisoners. (As such, Keeper of the Flame is also a primer for the major areas of modern American constitutional law.)  Justice Thomas’s opinions prove that his originalist jurisprudence is rooted in the founding, and thus aims at preservation of the constitutional fabric and the individual rights it was designed to protect.