Books

My first front page article was a feature about the 50th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s bestselling novel, The Fountainhead, and my first book review—first published in the Los Angeles Daily News—is quoted on the back of the softcover edition of Letters of Ayn Rand. Archived articles about books include author interviews and profiles, reviews of bestsellers, and features. Though currently working on my own literary pursuits, I still write about books on my blog.


Feature: Ron Chernow on John D. Rockefeller

Published on July 19, 1998, Los Angeles Daily News

“(Regulations) really forced businessmen, like Rockefeller, into all sorts of legal contrivances and machinations. If you were a forward-looking businessman, you were almost forced to figure out ways to circumvent the law,” Chernow said. “For example, there were laws that a company in California couldn’t own stock in a company in Oregon. Therefore, Standard Oil went through four or five variations of corporate forms.” When Standard Oil attracted the attention of muckraking journalists who wrote influential articles and books denouncing the oil tycoon, it was based only partly on the truth.


Book Review: Dreams from My Father

Unpublished 2008 draft

Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s mythologized backstory, contained in his 1995 bestselling Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (2004 paperback edition), is a compelling narrative. As embellished autobiography—using what must be fictionalized dialogue—and as cultural commentary, it is relatively engaging. At times, it is moving. As a character guide to a man who may become the nation’s forty-second president, it is elusive and relevant.


Book Review: The Plutonium Files

Published in 1999 in the Dallas Morning News and Memphis Commercial Appeal

Human radiation experiments were first acknowledged by the U.S. Government in 1993. The experiments, which included plutonium injections into 18 patients and radioactive “cocktails” given to 829 pregnant women at Vanderbilt University, are the focus of Eileen Welsome’s The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War (Delacorte Press, 564 pp., $26.95).


Chinese Cinderella: Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

At first glance, Adeline Yen Mah’s life would seem perfect; her father was wealthy, she grew up in bustling Hong Kong, and she was sent to live in London when she was admitted into medical school at the age of 14. Later, she married for love, had two children, a successful career in medicine, and she became chief of anesthesia at a California hospital.


Book Review: Becoming Self-Directed Learners

Published in July 2014, The North Shore Weekend

The Center for Self-Directed Learning’s premise is contained in its name—the learning is an end in itself, not a means to mastering life—and, in laying this bare, Becoming Self-Directed Learners is true to its inception.


Interview: Arline Paul on New Trier’s Education Experiment

Published in July 2014, The North Shore Weekend

The Center for Self-Directed Learning was an educational experiment located in New Trier’s room 101. The alternative school within a school, which was terminated due to low enrollment, rejected teaching, grading and testing. This is an interview with the school’s co-founder, Arline Paul, on her recent book about the 10-year program, Becoming Self-Directed Learners.


Russian Writings on Hollywood, Why Businessmen Need Philosophy

Published in the Los Angeles Daily News

The Russian-born writer Ayn Rand (1905-1982) lives, at least in a sense she probably would have relished: through her ideas. Rand’s books, including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell more than 350,000 copies a year. A Library of Congress readers’ poll in 1991 ranked Atlas second to the Bible in importance for Americans’ lives, and the U.S. Postal Service recently announced that she’ll grace a new first-class stamp, featuring an elegant young Rand against the backdrop of one of her favorite literary symbols: the skyscraper.


Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made

Published in the Dallas Morning News

Basketball player Michael Jordan has rocked the world with his athletic skills. Hailed as “Jesus in Nikes” and heralded in France as “God in person,” basketball’s legendary Jerry West describes him this way: “It’s like a generous God sprinkled a little more gold dust on Michael than he did on anyone else.” David Halberstam’s Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made, (Random House, $24.95), puts the reader squarely in Michael Jordan’s universe. What a wonderful world it is.


Interview: Robert Mayhew on We the Living

Posted October 12, 2009

Robert Mayhew, a philosophy professor at Seton Hall University, is author of Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Republic, The Female in Aristotle’s Biology, and Ayn Rand and Song of Russia, and editor of Ayn Rand’s Marginalia, Ayn Rand’s The Art of Nonfiction, Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living, Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, and Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. His latest book, Plato: Laws 10, was published by Oxford University Press in 2008. Dr. Mayhew earned his PhD in philosophy at Georgetown University in 1991.


We the Living: Another Ayn Rand Novel for Our Times

Published by Scripps-Howard, the Providence Journal, Korea Times and Orange County Register

Though increased sales of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand have been getting the attention, Rand’s lesser-known first novel, We the Living (1936), is also relevant in today’s turbulent times. Rand once described We the Living, adapted for film in 1942, available for the first time on DVD, and recently published in trade paperback, as “a book for Americans.


A History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture

Published in the Portland Oregonian

The powerful act of suicide, once a shameful family secret and still largely taboo in a society where newspaper obituaries regularly avoid its mention, continues to affect our lives and our public discourse. Georges Minois’s A History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture, is especially relevant. It’s also very useful.


Books for Dads That Read

Published June 21, 2003, in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Surely, there are dads whose interests rarely wander beyond ESPN and whatever gadget’s on sale. There is also another type of father figure: Dad the reader.


Last Minute Gifts for Dads Who Read Books

This 2003 article was published in several newspapers.

If the latest gadget or a pair of socks isn’t likely to tickle your Father’s fancy, a classic book may be perfect for Dad on Father’s Day. As Mark Twain once said: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”


Autonomy Makes the Best Medicine

This 2000 article was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and in Los Angeles Times‘ local newspapers.

75-year-old cancer surgeon John Stehlin’s story captures the uniqueness of the doctor/patient relationship, fully explored in The Best Medicine: Doctors, Patients and the Covenant of Caring, (St. Martin’s Press, 221 pages, $23.95).


Breakout: A Marine Remembers the Forgotten War

This 2000 article was published in the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer, Portland Oregonian, San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Daily News. Please note that the author’s father, Lawrence Holleran, fought in the Second Division of the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

The Korean War, 50 years old this June, is sadly deserving of its other name: the forgotten war.


TWA Flight 800 flawed by lack of skepticism, incomplete conclusions

This 2000 book review was published in the Dallas Morning News, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Birmingham News, Indianapolis Star, and Los Angeles Daily News.

When TWA Flight 800 broke apart over Long Island’s waters in July 1996, killing all 230 people on board, it was the worst commercial aviation disaster in U.S. history.


David Halberstam Affirmative actions from the “Children of God”

This 1998 article was published in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Halberstam, author of The Powers That Be and The Fifties, remains convinced that, in today’s world, ideas matter.


Book Review: Waiting for Fidel

Published in the Dallas Morning News in 1998.

The Pope’s visit to Cuba and Fidel Castro’s subsequent release of political prisoners this week are a reminder that the Communist dictator still has a grip on Cuba’s fate. Christopher Hunt’s Waiting for Fidel demonstrates that his grip is strangling its people and it may be slipping.


Drawing Life Unabomber Target Ponders Life Before, After Attack

Published December 7, 1997 in Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)

One of the Unabomber’s targets, David Gelernter, raises serious questions about the dominant ideas of the 20th century However, his questions beg for answers that he doesn’t provide.


Full Circle: A Homecoming to Free Poland One Family’s Ordeal with Nazis, Soviets and Freedom

Published September 28, 1997 in Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)

Poland ‘s modern history is uniquely tragic: It has suffered both the ghastly ambitions of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. The loss of lives, due to concentration camps at places like Auschwitz and the brutality of communism, is staggering. Six million Poles were annihilated by the Nazis. Half were Jews. The loss of liberty continues to haunt the fledgling democracy.


Deeper: My Two-Year Odyssey in Cyberspace Author Gets Online, But Not Off the Hook

Published April 6, 1997 in Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)

Like your first outing on the World Wide Web, John Seabrook’s account of his experiences on the Internet, “Deeper: My Two-Year Odyssey in Cyberspace,” is useful and engrossing. Though it fails to live up to its promise, his narrative is engaging and readers can learn from its shortcomings.


Boomerang: The Clinton Health Care Plan That Failed

This 1996 book review was published in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Autopsies are never fun and are usually messy. Boomerang, a post-mortem of the Clinton administration’s failed health-care plan written by Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, falls into this category.

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