Brad Thor writes summertime thrillers and his latest, Code of Conduct, once again features counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath [note: yes, it’s Scot with one T] on a mission to save America, this time from a sinister international group.Bookmonger Brad Thor Code of Conduct Cover His story also involves a mysterious, real-life monument called the “George Guidestones” (look it up on Wikipedia, and be sure to note the Yoko Ono reference).

Best of all, Thor is a man of the Right — and he isn’t afraid to act like one, even if it means alienating liberal readers. In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, he explains his views, his public profile, and why he adopted his slogan: “Stay in the Fight.”

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The state of the American mind is … not good, according to Mark Bauerlein, co-editor of The State of the American Mind: 16 Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism,American Mind Bookmonger a collection of essays just published by the Templeton Press.

Although IQ tests show that Americans are getting smarter, says Bauerlein, we don’t really know more than we did a generation or two ago — and a lot of what we think we know is in fact mistaken, such as the notion that everyone who is poor deserves welfare because all poor people are equally deserving.

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Don Winslow’s new novel The Cartel may be to Mexican drug lords of today what “The Godfather” Bookmonger The Cartelwas to the Mafia in the 1960s and 1970s–a great story full of compelling characters, as well as a good way to learn about the motives and methods of a super-violent criminal organization.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Winslow describes why he wanted to write about Mexican drug trafficking, how he researched his topic, and why he dedicated his book to murdered journalists. He also critiques the American war on drugs (spoiler alert: he’s not a fan).

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“Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov,” as Sting sings in “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.Bookmonger Nabakov in America Robert Roper

In a 10-minutes conversation with The Bookmonger, Robert Roper — author of Nabokov in America — explains the man behind the lyric, his love affair with America, and why his novel Lolita continues to cause such a fuss. Roper also discussed Nabokov’s friendship with William F. Buckley Jr. and whether Nabokov was a conservative.

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The first President Bush was more conservative that most conservatives realize, according to his former chief of staff, John H. Sununu, in The Quiet Man: The Indispensable Presidency of George H.W. Bush.Bookmonger The Quiet Man

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Sununu makes a spirited case for his former boss, defending a record that includes a tax-hiking budget bill and the nomination of David Souter to the Supreme Court–as well as a series of domestic-policy accomplishments that aren’t properly appreciated today, he says. He declines to endorse a GOP presidential candidate, but talks about what Republicans must do to win in 2016.

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Did J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis write silly fantasies about elves and magic wardrobes, or were they two of the most important authors of the 20th century?Bookmonger Inklings

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Carol Zaleski defends their legacy. She is the co-author (with her husband Philip Zaleski) of The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, and she discusses not only Tolkien and Lewis but also their two lesser-known friends, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. She explains what they believed, how they encouraged each other, and why English professors have been so slow to embrace them.

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Hillsdale College professor Will Morrisey says they may be the two greatest statesmen on their time, and he’s written a book about them: Churchill and de Gaulle: The Geopolitics of Liberty.Bookmonger Churchill de Gualle

The case for Churchill’s greatness is familiar, but what about the French guy? In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Morrisey explains his admiration for a leader whose career spanned much of the 20th century, from the horrors of First World War, through the disaster of the Second World War, and on to the West’s confrontation with Communism in the Cold War.

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Neal Stephenson, one of today’s most acclaimed writers of science fiction, joins the Bookmonger SevenevesThe Bookmonger for a 10-minute conversation about his palindromic new novel, Seveneves, which begins this way: “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.”

We also discuss his worries about space debris and near-earth objects, his nostalgia for manned space exploration, and his interest in NASA’s upcoming fly-by of Pluto. Finally, Stephenson explains why his books are so darn long (Seveneves is 867 pages) in an age of allegedly decreasing attention spans.

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What would Ronald Reagan think of the Republican Party today? That’s one of the questions H.W. Brands takes up in The Bookmonger’s 10-minute podcast about his newest book, Reagan: The Life.Unknown

Brands is a veteran biographer of presidents, already having written on Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and both Roosevelts. He discusses why he wanted to write this book next as well as how he handled the problem that has haunted so many biographers of the 40th president: The claim that nobody really knew the man. Brands also reveals whether he voted for Reagan in the 1980s–and whether it’s even possible for a historian who participated in one of those elections to write dispassionately on this subject now.

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“You didn’t build that,” said President Obama, notoriously. Oh yes we did, replies Philip F. Anschutz, in his new book, Out Where the West Begins: Profiles, Visions, and Strategies of Early Western Business Leaders.Bookmonger Out Where the West Begins

Anschutz doesn’t reply directly–the book is a work of history and “Obama” doesn’t appear in the index–but the president’s words were on his mind as he about finishing his manuscript, as he explains in this podcast with The Bookmonger.

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The bicentennial of one of the greatest battles in history is almost upon us — and Bernard Cornwell provides a new account of it in Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles.Bookmonger Waterloo Ricochet

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Cornwell describes what was at stake on June 18, 1815, whether Napoleon or Wellington was the better general, and what it was like to be an ordinary soldier on the battlefield (short answer: awful). He also discusses why he paused his novel writing for this book, his first — an apparently last — work of nonfiction.

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Do you believe in life after death? William Peter Blatty does. He’s the author of The Exorcist — a terrifying novel that became a scary movie — and he says he has the proof in his new memoir, Finding Peter: A True Story of the Hand of Providence and Evidence of Life after Death.Unknown

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Blatty describes what he has witnessed since his son’s death, why he interprets these incidents as messages from beyond the grave, and how one of the world’s most acclaimed authors of horror could write such a life-affirming book.

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The separation of church and state doesn’t mean that Americans must separate religion from politics, says Gary Scott Smith, author of Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents.religion in the oval office

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Smith names America’s least-religious presidents, describes his chapter on the faith of President Obama, and also explains how religion led Harry Truman to support the creation of Israel.

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“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” sang Bob Dylan. Whatever elsDays of Rage Bookmongere this line accomplished, it inspired the name of a group of left-wing terrorists, the Weather Underground. In his new book Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence, author Bryan Burrough describes the men and women behind Weather Underground and their ilk, as they bombed their way across America in the 1960s and 1970s.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Burrough discusses the motives of these violent groups, their legacy, and where their members are today–including the unsettling fact that although they’ve had plenty of time to mature, hardly any of them feel remorse for their crimes.

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“I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it,” said CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow in 1945 from Buchenwald. “For most of it, I have no words.”KL History of Nazi Concentration Camps

Historian Nikolaus Wachsmann does have words for it–lots of them–in KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps, a comprehensive new account that runs more than 800 pages and tries to explain the full terror of Auschiwitz, Dachau, and the rest.

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Baseball is back! Years ago, W.P. Kinsella wrote a short story about baseball called “Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa.” The Essential WP KinsellaIt became a novel called Shoeless JoeFinally, it turned into a movie called “Field of Dreams.” The original story, and many more, are collected in The Essential W.P. Kinsella.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Kinsella says what he thinks of “Field of Dreams” (he likes it). He also shares his opinion of hockey (he doesn’t like it). Finally, he names his favorite baseball team (you’ll just have to listen).

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Mark Twain spent about 12 years of his life outside the United States, traveling the world and writing about it–and Roy Morris Jr. describes these adventures in American Vandal: Mark Twain Abroad.Bookmonger John Miller American Vandal Mark Twain Abroad

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Morris says that Twain was best known in his own time as a journalist and travel writer, not a novelist. He developed a low opinion of Europe and the Holy Land and enjoyed a good French joke as much as the rest of us.

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Why are werewolves such great monsters?Andrew Klavan Werewolf Cop Edgar Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Andrew Klavan explains it in a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger about his new novel, Werewolf Cop.

We also discuss the cultural and political mess of Europe, how Klavan became a conservative (or a “patriot,” as he likes to say), and why vampires are boring. Moreover, movie buffs will want to take notes when Klavan names the only two werewolf movies worth seeing. One thing’s for sure: This is a werewolf podcast worth hearing.

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On April 22, 1915 — almost exactly a century ago — Germans attacked French and Canadian soldiers with poison gas, and the world experienced a weapon of mass destruction for the first time. A Higher Form of Killing Diane PrestonWithin a few weeks, a U-boat sank the Lusitania and a zeppelin bombed London. Historian Diana Preston describes these terrifying days in A Higher Form of Killing: Six Weeks in World War I That Forever Changed the Nature of Warfare.

In a 10-minute podcast with The Bookmonger, Preston describes how these weapons influenced the United States and whether they backfired on the Germans, who ultimately lost the war. She also discusses what World War I can teach people in the 21st century, at a time when Syria gasses its own people and Iran approaches nuclear capability.

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What is this chimerical creature, the “conservatarian”? Charles C. W. Cooke, my National Review colleague, Unknown-1provides an answer in The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Cooke describes why so many people like to call themselves socially liberal and fiscally conservative, why conservatives should make peace with gay marriage but not with abortion-on-demand, and whether he sees a presidential candidate who is ready to embrace the principles of conservatarianism.

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It sounds like the premise of the next “National Treasure” movie: UnknownFor centuries, philosophers such as Plato, Machiavelli, and Rousseau have hidden their true teachings by engaging in “esoteric writing,” which challenges readers not merely to grasp the plain meaning of their works but to unlock their secrets through careful interpretation.

That’s the central claim of Arthur M. Melzer in his new book, Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing.

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Long before Common Core, conservatives crusaded against progressive education reforms–and historian Adam Laats tells their tale in, The Other School Reformers“The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education.”

In a 10-minute podcast with The Bookmonger, Laats describes a 1974 school boycott in West Virginia, plus other examples of grassroots rebellion. We also discuss why so many historians have overlooked the role of conservatives in school policy, why a non-conservative like Laats took an interest in them, and what today’s conservative education reformers can learn from the experiences of their predecessors.

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Randy Boyagoda says that Richard John Neuhaus was the most important American Unknown-1clergyman of his time–and explains why both in his new biography, Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square, as well as in the latest edition of The Bookmonger.

We also discuss what personality traits accounted for the influence of Neuhaus and what attracted Boyagoda, an accomplished novelist, to tackle this subject.

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Today we have a special edition of The Bookmonger, a conversation with Rick and Karen Santorum about their new book, Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation. UnknownFirst we discuss their daughter, the victim of Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disorder similar to Down Syndrome. What challenges does Bella present and what has she taught the Santorum family?

Then we talk shop: Will Rick run for president in 2016? (Spoiler alert: He’s thinking about it but, disappointingly, refused to make a major announcement during our 10-minute conversation.) Rick explains went wrong in 2012 and how can Republicans prevail next year, plus how GOP senator Pat Toomey can win re-election in purplish Pennsylvania, where Rick is 2-1 in statewide elections.

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Who is Brent Scowcroft? Mastermind of geopolitical realism? Scourge of neoconservative idealism? 9k=

In The Bookmonger’s latest 10-minute podcast, we try to summarize the life and legacy of the man Bartholomew Sparrow calls The Strategist. That’s the title of his new biography, which is subtitled Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security.

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