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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Can Christianity save America? R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things, explains how it might in “Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society.”

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Reno describes why religious pluralism requires a Christian framework, why the United States has shifted away from its Christian roots, and whether churches bear any of the blame for the country’s current direction.

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When a day-care center refused to swaddle Abby Schachter‘s baby, the mother of four knew that she had crashed into the onerous rules of the nanny state. Now she’s written No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Our of Parenting.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Schachter explains that the problem goes far beyond swaddling. She also describes “free-range kids,” talks about bike helmets and vaccines, and argues for letting parents have more control over how they raise their children.

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Joining us from the devastated city of Homs in Syria is Marwa al-Sabouni, author of The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, al-Sabouni describes what life is like in Syria today, how architecture contributed to her county’s problems, and how a Syrian woman comes to speak English and become an architect. She also talks about her relationship to Roger Scruton, who wrote the foreword to her book.

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John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood were like Indiana Jones–except that they were real people rather than Hollywood fantasies, and William Carlsen tells their tale in Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Carlsen describes what these adventurers and archaeologists accomplished in the 1830s and 1840s, and also discusses the achievement of Maya civilization as well as why it vanished long ago.

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It’s perhaps the easiest problem in America to ignore: the grinding poverty and dysfunction of Indian reservations–and Naomi Schaefer Riley gives it every bit of her attention in The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Riley explains how the federal government makes life worse for these citizens, why property rights and better schools are part of the solution, and what 21st-century Americans owe to a group of people that Washington has abused for a long time.

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“A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading,” wrote C.S. Lewis. That’s probably true, especially because the young man might read Lewis’s own Mere Christianity, a book that has proven so influential it now has its own “biographer” in George M. Marsden, author of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Mardsen explains how Lewis turned a set of radio broadcasts into an enduring work of apologetics, what made Lewis such a good writer, and why Mere Christianity is more popular today than ever before.

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daniel silva black widowWhat happens when an espionage novelist predicts the future? Daniel Silva found out as he wrote his new thriller, The Black Widow, whose story involves ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels, European anti-Semitism, and the war in Syria.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Silva describes his series hero–Israeli art-restorer-turned-spy Gabriel Allon–and discusses why he thinks threats in the Middle East will grow much worse before they get any better.

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