David Frum

David's Book Club

02.21.12 8:38 PM ET

One of our most popular features at the old FrumForum site was a weekly book review under the heading "David's Bookshelf." I am bringing the bookshelf to the Daily Beast and widening the contributors as well. This post will be the hub for all book reviews that we have written, both on FrumForum and at the Daily Beast.

The final volume of Remembrance of Things Past looks at World War I from the perspective of those who experienced the war through newspapers, rather than from the trenches. 

The most arresting idea in Adam Winkler's impressively learned study of US gun law is the suggestion that contemporary American gun culture was more or less invented by the Black Panthers.

Through the years of Chavez rule, the best writing about Venezuela in English appeared on a blogspot run by two Venezuelan expats, Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel.

James A. Garfield has always been for me one of the great might-have-beens of American history. Millard tells the story of a man's journey from poverty to the American presidency, and the dramatic history of his assassination and legacy.

Dickens takes us into the harsh Victorian-era reality of British industrialization. For many, this life meant premature death.  

It's amazing how much of what we think we know about Britain's 'finest' hour is just plumb wrong.

Up From History by Robert J. Norrell

Booker T. Washington's life work inspired many African Americans, even if he saw himself as a failure.

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

One of the greatest novels ever written about a dysfunctional workplace, Wouk writes about life on the USS Caine, a navel vessel that saw very little action during World War II.

Empires and Barbarians by Peter Heather

Empires undo themselves, and they induce barbarians beyond their borders to combine in new ways.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

A man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly but if he makes a request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland

We live in an accordion economy: the 1% of the 1%, whose rate of gain since 1980 has recreated in this new century the concentrated wealth once supposed to have vanished with the Great Crash and New Deal.

Before I read Gene Smith's biography of John Pershing, I had no idea that America's one and only six-star general was such a babe magnet!

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

With the credibility of the 'official' biographer of President Eisenhower in shambles, Jean Edward Smith gives a more accurate potrayal of the 34th President of the United States.

The New New Deal by Michael Grunwald

Almost everybody has an opinion on the stimulus of 2009-2011. How many, though, actually know what was in it? Only after finishing the book did I appreciate how under-informed I was.

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

One of the great novellas of the American literary cannon, Melville's Bartleby is, among other things, a meditation on human suffering."Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!"

Northern Light by Brian Lee Crowley & Robert Murphy

Americans will do anything for Canada except read about it. But with the financial crisis and the looming debt crisis, it's time to see what our neighbors to the north did when they were in similar trouble.

The Jews in Poland and Russia by Antony Polonsky

Eastern European Jews have a fascinating tale that includes constant migration based on freedom and opportunity. In Poland, their world was mostly autonomous from the rest of the kingdom. 

Kill or Capture by Daniel Klaidman

Given the impressive success of the Obama administration with the "kill" part of the War on Terror, it begs the question, can the United States lawfully kill terrorist suspects outside of a set-piece battle?

The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust

In the third volume of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, Proust looks at the Parisian culture of the late Ninteenth Century by tapping into the social and political effects of the Dreyfus affair

Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler

If not an accurate account of the 1930s Moscow show trials, Arthur Koestler's great novel does explain the mentality that led so many in the West to condone them.

Cosa Nostra by John Dickie. (Part 1) (Part 2)

Cosa Nostra is a history of the Italian mafia. Dickie argues that organized crime should be seen as a consequence of Southern Italy's (relative) under-development, not a cause.

Social historian Frank Snowden offers a very different route to an answer about the relative underdevelopment of Southern Italy.We're used to thinking of malaria as a disease that besets Africa and other very poor places. Wrong.

Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon

Since the 1970s, gay politics have meant left politics, or at least liberal politics. It is surprising, then, for some to discover how many of the leading figures of the hard-right anticommunist movement of the late 1940s and early 1950s were gay.

In the Shadow of the Sword richly and accurately shows how the religion was shaped by the Persian and Roman empires.

Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger

Ernst Jünger gives a personal account of life in the trenches of World War I. Unlike All Quiet on the Western Front, Jünger looks at World War I from the positive standpoint of a German nationalist. 

Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust

Proust promises to unlock the secrets of the sexual awakening of young women in his second volume of Remembrance of Things Past. Although he turns out to be not a reliable dating coach, Proust is, believe it or not, a very biting comedian - and a very astute observer of politics.

Unintended Consequences by Edward Conard, Part 1Part 2Part 3

Bain Capital partner Edward Conard's controversial oligarchy-apologist book is a systematic defense of the pre-crash U.S. economic system against its post-crash critics. One thing he wants to debunk at the very outset: that stagnated wages are a result of low-skilled immigrants. 

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield tends not to head the Dickens canon. The plot finale is unconvincing and the autobiographical element seems to be the product of a writer in the grip of a bout of self-satisfaction. That said, Dickens' genius for the creation of comic characters is worked almost to rococo excess in this novel.

Uncontrolled by Jim Manzi

Jim Manzi gives us an intriguing investigation of the power, limits, and varieties of empirical knowledge. The book ranges widely across issues before reaching the conclusion that government policies might be improved if careful experimentation is used.

Capitol Punishment by Jack Abramoff

Much of the interest in Jack Abramoff’s 'Capitol Punishment' comes from figuring out the author’s political purposes. While Capitol Punishment gives you much of this, it also has a surprising emotional side to it.

The Secret Knowledge by David Mamet

Mamet discusses his conversion experience from liberalism to conservatism. His journey is fascinating because the ideas that attracted him to modern ideological conservatism are those that I have found increasingly off-putting.

Pinched by Don Peck

The social effects of the Great Recession mean a harsher reality for most Americans. The new jobs being added to the U.S. economy pay less, on average, than the jobs lost, and the 1% have already financially recovered.

An unapologetic attempt to soberly address one of America’s greatest social problems: the decline and collapse of the American family. How bad is it in America? The worst in the industrialized world for starters.

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Haidt praises conservative intellectuals but not the Republican Party. The book seeks to explain "Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" and what are the psychological and biological basis to explain why we vote the way we do?

The Republican Brain by Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is a journalist focused on the intersection of science and politics. An avowed liberal, he seeks to explain his critique of conservatives in psychology and biology. The right and left, he contends, differ in more ways than just opinion.

The Pursuit of Italy by David Gilmour

David's Bookshelf at FrumForum.

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust

The New American Economy by Bruce Bartlett

The Inheritance of Rome by Chris Wickham

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

Golden Fetters by Barry Eichengreen

The Prince of Darkness by Robert D. Novak

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Detroit: Then and Now by Cheri Gay

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The Titan by Thomas Dreiser

The Discovery of France by Graham Robb

The Financier by Theodore Dreiser

Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed

Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin

The Great Crash by John Kenneth Galbraith

How Rome Fell by Adrian Goldsworthy

The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

American Pharaoh by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor

Sick by Jonathan Cohn

The Big Sort by Bill Bishop

Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Trial by Franz Kafka

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

A Breed of Heroes by Alan Judd

Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler

The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst

Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

Middlemarch by George Eliot

White Protestant Nation by Allan J. Lichtman

Kept in the Dark by Anthony Trollope

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

The Canadian Summer by James Alan Roberts

The Battle for Spain by Anthony Beevor

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy

Britain’s Lost Cities by Gavin Stamp

Nero by Edward Champlin

Felix Holt, The Radical by George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Romola by George Eliot

London 1945 by Maureen Waller

Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Harper’s Team by Tom Flanagan

The Bush Tragedy by Jacob Weisberg

Brother Tariq by Caroline Fourest

Adam Bede by George Eliot

Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot

The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day by Garfields Philip Matyszak

Reveille in Washington by Margaret Leech

The Roman Triumph by Mary Beard

The Unfinished Canadian by Andrew Cohen

Full Circle by Radek Sikorski

Overlord by Max Hastings

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Six Armies in Normandy by John Keegan

The Great Nation by Colin Jones

Independent Nation by John Avlon

The Civil War by Shelby Foote

Mexico: Biography of Power by Enrique Krauze

Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo

American Notes by Charles Dickens

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Forbidden Nation by Jonathan Manthorpe

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang & Jon Halliday

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

Ulysses by James Joyce

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The Jewish Enemy by Jeffrey Herf

An Economic History of India by Dietmar Rothermund

America Alone by Mark Steyn

Five Days in Philadelphia by Charlie Peters

Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz

Imperial Spain: 1469-1716 by J.H. Elliott

Mussolini’s Italy by R.J.B. Bosworth

Simon Bolivar: A Life by John Lynch

Blood of Victory by Alan Furst

Night Soldiers by Alan Furst

Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac

The Cure by David Gratzer

Right Side Up by Paul Wells

Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott

Mormon America by Richard and Joan Ostling

The Terror Presidency by Jack Goldsmith

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

Blood of the Liberals by George Packer

Empires of Trust by Thomas F. Madden

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens