'Tis the Season for Scolding, Depressing Books

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Ah, Yule! As the year draws to a close, it's time once again to huddle close to family and loved ones and share in the simple joy of being together. Forget about the big, messy, frustrating problems of life for a little while; they'll still be there in January. Put on some warm slippers, drink a mug of cocoa, and enjoy a little bit of comfort this holiday season.

Ha ha, whoops, unless you got a gift from Stanford University fellow Thomas Sowell. Then it's time to get angry, or grieve the state of modern journalism, or delve into the pathology of a paranoid, venal president. Ho ho ho!

In a Creators Syndicate-distributed piece, Sowell recommends a few books to give as gifts this Christmas. (Not "holiday"; Christmas.) The titles are not what anyone would call warm or fuzzy. Among them: New Deal or Raw Deal, by Burton Folsom, Jr. Here's what Sowell has to say about this book:

So many myths and legends glorifying Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal administration have become part of folklore that a dose of cold facts is very much needed. The next time someone repeats one of the many myths about FDR, or tries to use the New Deal as a model of how we should try to solve current economic problems, whoever reads this book will have the hard, documented facts with which to shoot down such claims.

Also on Sowell's gift guide:

  • Spoilt Rotten!: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality, by Theodore Dalrymple. Says Sowell: "Dr. Dalrymple sees sentimentality as not just a silly foible but as a serious danger to government policy-making, as well as a corruption of personal relations."

  • Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America, by William McGowan. Says Sowell: "The New York Times is not just another newspaper. It has long been a major influence on the rest of the media and on public opinion, so its degeneration into a propaganda publication in recent years is a national tragedy."

  • Up From the Projects, by Walter Williams. Sowell calls it "not only a remarkable story of a remarkable man's life," but also "the story of both progress and retrogression in the black community. Everyone wants to take credit for the progress but nobody wants to take the blame for the retrogression."

  • Inside the Nixon Administration, by Arthur F. Burns. Sowell explains: "Burns was chairman of the Federal Reserve System in those years, and these posthumous excerpts from his diary paint a chilling picture of the irresponsibility, vanity, dishonesty and incompetence in the Nixon White House. This book is not just about the Nixon administration, however. It is about the ugly realities of politics behind the pious talk of 'public service.' And it is about what it means to have a very strange man as President of the United States-- something that is all too relevant to our own times."

  • The Fourth Edition of His Own Book: Basic Economics  It's "more than twice as large as the first edition."

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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