Book Review: Fossil Future

Fossil Future is a thought-provoking, full-throated defense of fossil fuels, bringing convincing evidence & a moral philosophy of human flourishing to bear on the contentious topic of climate change.


Human-impacted climate change has been labeled as an “existential threat,” a “catastrophe,” and an “apocalypse.” Depending on the ‘expert’ testimony you choose to believe, we either have ten years, seven years, five years, or a mere three years (back in 2017) to save the planet from total devastation. This intense doomsaying is widely promulgated in our media, our government institutions, and our corporate world. It is leading to serious mental health issues in younger Americans, who take this rhetoric from teachers, parents, and social media influencers seriously and have developed what has been labeled “climate anxiety.” We are told that we need to totally reorient the global economy, completely end all use of fossil fuels, and stop having children if we are to end this horrible crisis and preserve the earth in a pristine natural state.

But is any of this fear and apocalyptic rhetoric justified? A provocative new book from the philosopher and energy researcher Alex Epstein argues that it isn’t. And not only that, Fossil Future argues that to expand human flourishing we need to expand fossil fuel use, not curtail or end it entirely.

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Book Review: Blood and Iron

Katja Hoyer’s new history of the German Empire is a fantastic primer on an understudied political entity, as well as a cracking good read.

The imperial dreams of more than half of Europe were crushed by the carnage of the First World War, a conflict which saw the destruction of several long-lasting imperial states. The Tsardom of Russia had survived, in one form or another, since the time of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century; the Habsburg monarchy, represented in 1914 by Austria-Hungary, was around in the 13th century; and the Ottoman Empire, still hanging on by a thread at the turn of the 20th century, famously conquered its capital in 1453. None of these long-lived historic empires survived the Great War. Still, perhaps the most interesting imperial loss seen in the aftermath of that conflict was that of the most recent imperial creation – the German Empire. For too many years, the Second Reich (the First being the Holy Roman Empire) has been seen primarily through the lens of its eventual successor: the Nazi regime which promised an eternal Third Reich. This presentation is reductive, unfairly tars Imperial Germany with the stain of Nazi crimes, and flattens a truly fascinating and multi-dimensional polity into a cardboard cutout version of the real thing. Katja Hoyer’s new book, Blood and Iron: The Rise and Fall of the German Empire, 1871-1918, serves as a long-overdue corrective to that dominant narrative and fleshes out Imperial Germany in a readable yet detailed fashion.

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Book Review: The China Nightmare

This monograph on the China threat is a must-read for anyone interested in the defining challenge of the 21st century.

The rise of a militarily and economically aggressive China and its impact on global politics is the biggest issue in all of international relations. This impacts the United States significantly, as China is a clear and present challenge to American global hegemony and the liberal world order that was cemented after the Cold War. Dan Blumenthal’s book The China Nightmare: The Grand Ambitions of a Decaying State is an excellent primer on the China challenge, delving into the history of Chinese imperialism, the political theories of Chinese Communists, and the impacts of those ideas and events on the policies and actions embraced and promulgated by the Chinese government today. It is a fantastic overview of the problem and how America should respond, and – while quite detailed – it still retains an accessibility that other modern policy books can lack.

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Did Six Million Really Die? – Yes

The Earth is flat. Dinosaurs lived alongside humans. Aliens built the Egyptian pyramids. Elvis is still alive on another planet. The Holocaust never happened.

All of the aforementioned statements are unequivocally false, conspiratorial pablum; still, some people in modern America believe each one of them. The most painful and despicable of these lies is the final one presented, that of the falsity of the Holocaust. True believers in the ‘Holocaust hoax’ conspiracy theory are, thankfully, few and far between, but the lack of Holocaust knowledge within the American population is stunningly high. According to a 2018 survey, “Nearly one-third of all Americans (31 percent) and more than 4-in-10 Millennials (41 percent) believe that substantially less than 6 million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust” and “While there were over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, almost half of Americans (45 percent) cannot name a single one – and this percentage is even higher amongst Millennials.”[1] This lack of historical knowledge around the Holocaust plays directly into the hands of those who wish to deny it and provides an opening for denialist rhetoric and ‘information’ to fill the gaps.

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Book Review: This Gulf of Fire

This detailed & readable history of the Great Lisbon Earthquake is well worth your time.

On November 1, 1755 – All Saints Day in the Catholic Church – the greatest natural catastrophe in the history of modern Europe took place: the Great Lisbon Earthquake. The earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, completely destroyed the glittering capital of the Portuguese Empire and claimed victims on four continents. The tremors, along with the resulting tsunami and firestorm, turned Lisbon, previously a cosmopolitan masterpiece of a city replete with imperial grandeur, into a hulking collection of burnt-out ruins. Yet most of us interested in history (even European history) may not have heard of this cataclysmic event or had only heard of it in passing. A 2015 book by historian Mark Molesky seeks to right that wrong and give the Lisbon earthquake its proper historical due as a key event in the European Enlightenment. [Sidebar: Dr. Molesky is one of my professors at Seton Hall University and I have studied under him.]

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