History Lesson

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Fred Kaplan's Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power won't be in stores for a few months yet, but it's terrific stuff, mostly focused on how the disasters of the Bush foreign policy stem from Bush's bad ideas rather than some lack of "competence" and that what's needed to replace them isn't just better people, but better ideas. Some of it, though, is good old fashioned mocking of the dumb stuff Bush says and does. For example:

For several months afterward, as the insurgency morphed into sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, President Bush invoked the elections to dispute that anything of the sort was happening. "I hear a lot about 'civil war,'" he said at one press conference. "The Iraqis want a unified country. . . . Twelve million Iraqis votes. . . . It's an indication about the desire for people to live in a free society."

But it indicated no such thing. Had Bush looked at his own country's history, he would have seen that the election sporting the highest turnout ever, with 83 percent of the eligible population voting, was the election of 1860 -- the election right before the American Civil War.

Get it? At any rate, I'm afraid you may buy only one Eric Nelson-edited book about American foreign policy published by John Wiley & Sons in 2008, and if so I want to make sure it's my book and not Kaplan's that you buy. So whatever else you do, don't buy Fred Kaplan's book! But if you can borrow a review copy from a blogger friend or something, it'd be well worth your time to read it. Might even whet your appetite for someone else's book....

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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