What’s so bad about Common Core? Joy Pullmann explains in her new book, The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Pullmann explains why “accountability” and “standards” are so often meaningless buzzwords, how parents can tell if a school is good, and what the Trump administration should do to improve schooling.

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What’s the case for classical studies in the 21st century? Eric Adler offers an answer in Classics, the Culture Wars, and Beyond.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Adler says that there’s more value in the study of classics than most people realize, but that scholars often don’t know how to respond to public interest in their field. He also describes the reputation of Victor Davis Hanson, probably the best-known classicist in the United States but also a controversial figure among his academic peers.

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What does Alexis de Tocqueville have to say about 21st-century America? Enough to fill a new book, according to James Poulos, author of The Art of Being Free: How Alexis de Tocqueville Can Save Us from Ourselves.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Poulos explains why Tocqueville looms so large in the American mind, how he first came to know this 19th-century writer, and what advice Tocqueville would give to President Trump.

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Edward Jay Epstein says he hasn’t written a “whodunit” but rather a “howdunit,” in How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Epstein discusses whether Snowden is a whistle-blowing idealist or a traitor to his country. He also describes the one question he would love to pose to the man who now lives somewhere in Russia, and suggests that there’s a lesson in all of this for President Trump.

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What’s the meaning of meaning? Now there’s a heady question–but one that Emily Esfahani Smith tackles with clear-headed, narrative prose in The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Smith discusses the ingredients of a meaningful life, argues that happiness is overrated, and describes how the rise of social media and the decline of religious faith have shaped the modern search for meaning.

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It sounds like the subtitle of an Indiana Jones movie, but The Lost City of the Monkey God is the name of the new nonfiction book by Douglas Preston.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Preston explains what it’s like to find the ruins of an unknown city in an impenetrable jungle full of venom-spitting snakes and prowling jaguars, how he and his team even know to look for the place in the most remote regions of Honduras, and who were the people who lived there centuries ago.

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Scholars constantly discover new information and offer new insights on William Shakespeare, says Gary Taylor, editor of The New Oxford Shakespeare.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Taylor explains why so many people regard Shakespeare as the greatest author in the English language, how researchers have used big data to learn about Shakespeare’s collaborations with Christopher Marlowe and other writers, and why he likes Othello so much.

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William F. Buckley, Jr. called him “the greatest English novelist of the [20th] century”–and so does Philip Eade, author of Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Eade describes Waugh’s legacy, picks his best books, and explains his conservatism. Also, he answers the most important question of all: When Evelyn Waugh married Evelyn Gardner, did she take his name?

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Entrepreneurs are under attack, says Dick M. Carpenter II, co-author of Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Carpenter explains that “bottleneckers” are creating cartels to keep people from becoming everything from hairbraiders to taxi drivers. He discusses how conservatives and liberals might come together to oppose these crony capitalists, also also describes how the new technologies of the sharing economy are helping Uber and Airbnb redefine the rules of modern business.

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They’re unelected, unaccountable, and out of control–and Paul D. Moreno takes them on in The Bureaucrat Kings: The Origins and Underpinnings of America’s Bureaucratic State.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Moreno describes how and why Congress has allowed the administration state to grow in size and strength for more than a century–and what citizens and statesmen can do right now to recover what we’ve lost.

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Bernard Cornwell seeks to retell the history of England’s founding through his historical novels–and the adventure continues in his latest, The Flame Bearer.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Cornwell discusses why Alfred the Great was so great, how his main character is loosely based on one of his own ancient ancestors, and for how long he thinks he’ll keep on adding new titles to this current series of books.

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From the Peloponnesian Wars and Punic Wars of antiquity to America’s 20th-century confrontation with the Soviet Union, we have much to learn from the clashes of the past, says James Lacey, editor of Great Strategic Rivalries: From the Classical World to the Cold War.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Lacey describes the rules of rivalries, from how they start to how they end, and discusses possible major rivalries of the 21st century. He also provides advice on how the United States can prepare for the inevitable showdown.

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Art and politics always have mixed, but lately the art world has surrendered to the toxic cult of race, gender, and class, says Sohrab Ahmari in The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Ahmari explains how a rotten production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream compelled him to write his book, how contemporary artistic treatments of race differ from the sophistication of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and where Americans can find great art today.

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It’s the most mysterious manuscript in the world, says Raymond Clemens, editor of The Voynich Manuscript.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Clemens describes why people are so fascinated by this medieval document that has puzzled cryptographers and sparked imaginations. He also explains how it came into the possession of Yale’s rare books library and why Yale University Press has now issued a photo-facsimile edition of this beguiling book.

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The Pilgrims didn’t wear buckles on their hats, but they did give us one of our best holidays, says Melanie Kirkpatrick in her new book, Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Kirkpatrick explains why this celebration caught on in American culture, what the Pilgrims would think of our modern festivities, and how the terrorist attacks of 9/11 compelled her to write about Thanksgiving.

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What explains the enduring appeal of vampires? British writer Christopher Frayling explains the attraction in Vampyres: Genesis and Resurrection from Count Dracula to Vampirella.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Frayling describes his own fascination with these neck biters as well as how some have evolved in recent years away from their villainous heritage. Finally, he picks his favorite vampire movie, offering his suggestion for the best vampire flick to watch for Halloween.

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Why would a series of religious biographies issue a title on the famous iconoclast H.L Mencken? That’s the challenge D.H. Hart had to answer in his new book, Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H.L. Mencken.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Hart describes his subject’s massive influence nearly a century ago as well as what Mencken really thought about God, the universe, and everything. He also tries to explain why Mencken, despite his apostasies, appeals more to conservatives than liberals today.

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Between 2011 and 2015, the opinion section of the New York Times marked the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by tracking events on their anniversaries via a blog with original content–and now its editors have issued a collection, Disunion: A History of the Civil War.

In a 15-minute conversation with The Bookmonger (we had so much fun, we went long!), co-editor Clay Risen describes how the project came together and why it relied so much on amateur experts, plus he describes the most surprising thing he learned about the conflict (it involves coffee). He also makes a case for why conservatives should read the op-ed page of the New York Times.

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“I do not exaggerate to propose that this may prove to be William F. Buckley’s finest book ever,” says Christopher Buckley, about a brand-new volume of his late father’s work, A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century, a collection of eulogies edited by James Rosen of Fox News.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Rosen explains how he came up with the idea for this book, what made WFB such an excellent stylist, and how WFB managed to range in these brief compositions from the likes of Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to John Lennon and Jerry Garcia.

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Conservatives always complain about the liberal media. But when did they start to fight it? Right from the start, says Nicole Hemmer in Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Hemmer explains how conservatives in the 1940s and 1950s made liberal media bias an political issue, telling the stories of radio showman Clarence Manion and National Review publisher Bill Rusher. She also describes what today’s conservatives can learn from these figures of yesteryear.

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This is Sparta? Who cares? Why should we pay any attention to an ancient Greek city not called Athens? Paul A. Rahe explains in his new book, The Spartan Regime: Its Character, Origins, and Grand Strategy.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Rahe describes what makes the Spartans distinctive, why he studies them as a scholar, and what their story can teach us about statesmanship in the 21st century.

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How does a secular Jew become a faithful Christian? Andrew Klavan tells his conversion story in The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Klavan explains his choice, describes how his family responded, and confronts the problem of anti-Semitism in the history of the West and Christianity.

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Did Ronald Reagan get one of his best ideas from John F. Kennedy? That’s what Lawrence Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic claim in JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Kudlow and Domitrovic discuss why we haven’t heard this story before, why Democrats have abandoned their hero’s supply-side legacy, and whether Donald Trump’s tax plan is in the Kennedy and Reagan tradition of believing tax cuts are better than tax hikes at generating revenue.

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The biggest challenge the next president faces almost certainly will be an unexpected disaster, says Tevi Troy, author of Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Troy talks about disasters in all their forms, from terrorist attacks to the Zika virus, and describes the role of presidents, the federal government, and ordinary citizens in prevention and response. He points to the worst disaster-manager in U.S. history (we’re looking at you, Woodrow Wilson) and predicts the event that will come to be seen as the great disaster of the next four to eight years.

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Do we really need a U.S. Department of Education? Vicki E. Alger doesn’t think so, and she makes her case in Failure: The Federal Miseduckation of America’s Children. (The misspelled title is deliberate. Get it? Get it?)

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Alger explains how the federal government got involved in education even though the Constitution doesn’t say anything about it, whether abolishing the Department of Education is politically possible, and what the next president should do to improve America’s schools.

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