" /> I write: March 2007
Curmudgeonalia
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March 24, 2007

The Last Kingdom

Bernard Cornwell - ISBN - 9780060887186

This is the first in his new Saxon Series, and the first of 3 books now in print.

In this saga of fidelity, rage, betrayal and gore he takes up the history of England at the time of Alfred; a time when England became England, in the 9th-10th centuries.

Alfred and his heirs were battling to rid their country of the ferocious Vikings who had been harassing and invading them for several centuries, and controlled three of England’s four kingdoms. Wessex was the last unconquered, hence the title: The Last Kingdom.

Uhtred, (the fictional character) and the young son of a minor nobleman—a father whom he despises--is captured and reared by his captor, a Danish noble who values him as a son; especially so when his own son is killed. As well, Uhtred comes to love Ragnar, who teaches him Viking ways of life and war. As a youngster with the Danes, Uhtred is involved in massacres of the English, yet struggles with his divided loyalties.

There are the usual graphic battles, the intrigue, etc. that not only festoon history, but are appropriately included in this (only slightly) fictional account of the period. Much can be learned about feudal England, its more rational (than the Danes) culture, and the barbarism of the period . . . and of the Vikings, especially. As with the three volumes of The Archer’s tale, Cornwell is able to truly involve the reader in the story.

Eventually Uhtred sides with the young King Alfred in defending the remaining English domain. He matures, is married, and becomes a loyal, ferocious and valuable warrior, who is a great hero in battling the Vikings. All this he does in spite of Alfred’s pious Christianity. Uhtred actually prefers the Norse Gods, considering them far more worldly wise and manly, and not that different from the English figures before Christianization.

In the second volume (which I have not read), The Pale Horseman, the saga continues and Uhtred is forever bound up with the English and English history. It, too, is said to be a masterwork, and just released in hardcover is volume #3, The Lords of the North, in which the Danes are finally seriously challenged. Without final resolution one presumes that other titles will follow.

It would be redundant of me to recommend this book and series, since I always recommend Cornwell. Nothing he writes has been less than an exciting adventure, and all are historically accurate.

Posted by respeto at 4:25 PM

March 7, 2007

America Alone

The End of the World as We Know It
Mark Steyn – ISBN – 9780895260789

Perhaps the most telling comment about this book is that made by Prince Turki al-Faisal, long-time ambassador to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia: “The arrogance of Mark Steyn knows no bounds.”

Or perhaps you’d prefer Michelle Malkin: “His new book provides a powerful, abrasive, high-velocity assault on . . . the threat of Islamic imperialism. Do we in the West have the will to prevail? Steyn strips away intellectual rust and PC rot to uncover the writing on the wall. America Alone will open your eyes. You can’t afford to look away.” Hard improve on that!

Now the best known, busiest “conservative” commentator on the planet, writing for myriad sources, Steyn delivers a razor sharp commentary with a wit unequaled by anyone writing regularly today. The book is equal parts enlightening and frightening, with humor and horror; an oft anamnestic peroration on our cultural amnesia.

P.J. O’Rourke is similarly amusing, and Florence King equally lacerating, but Steyn combines the two in this often droll dissertation. It is the West’s wake-up call . . . is anyone listening? Matt Parris, writing for the (U.K.) Spectator, observed that, in the end it will be America against the rest of the world, then asked: “whose side will you be on?”

The U.S. is the “who’s on first” position. She’s vital. When the world has a problem it dials 1-800-UNCLESAM. Problems in Darfur? The Balkins? Kuwait, maybe? That’s the number. Problems in a hospital in Oakland? Call the CDC! (That would be the Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta.) Same for hospitals in Toronto, Delhi, Beijing or Stockholm for that matter. Call the WHO (World Health Organization) and they fast forward the call to the CDC.

So, who will they call if we lose? And why are our compatriots not supportive—or even understanding—of the mistakenly named “War on Terror?” Most of the West demands that the U.S. “join the real world.” Wouldn’t it be more appropriate if they did?

Demographically he shows that Muslims are rapidly colonizing Europe. With them comes Islam--and with that, Wahhabist radical Islam. Remember the van Gogh murder a couple of years ago? And the Dutch cartoon brouhaha or the conflagrations in the bidonvilles of France last year? Here’s the partial answer:

While it may or may not be true that the Muslim population of France is “only 10%,” there are cities in France which are already 45% Muslim, and I’ve read that in Marseilles it is 75%. Further, in the under-20 subset of French residents over 30% are Muslim. The Europeans are under-breeding themselves out of existence with averages of 1.14 children per female in Italy to 1.89 in France, where 1/3 of them are Muslims, not Europeans. Every generation of continentals is little over half of the prior, with the Muslims nearly doubling their cadre. How long will this go on before they are the majority? And, do they really need to be the majority to sway the populations of Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and the low countries? Or England? Certainly they impacted Spain, Denmark and Holland where Muslim immigrants are less numerous.

While Europe decays Russia is dying at a much faster rate. There appears to be a question as to which Muslim country will be first to get the bomb? Will it be Iran? . . . or Russia? . . . or France? Muslims refuse to integrate, preferring their own to Western culture. Islam and Jihad are political forces in ways that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism never were. Denish D’Souza, an American conservative intellectual (from India) once observed that: “It is impossible to ‘practice’ Islam within a secular framework.” While the Inquisition wasn’t exactly a Christmas Party, it was responsible for fewer deaths in 150 years than Islamic Jihad is annually

There’s much, much more. All of it fascinating and well presented. I can only plead with you to read it. It isn’t about politics, per se. Liberal or conservative, left or right, it’s about learning that it won’t matter if we don’t survive. Some once thought it’d be better Red than Dead. It’s that kind of question. Western multiculturalists parrot that all cultures are equal, but find me one who would choose to live anywhere outside the West. When France falls some can move to Canada or the U.S. The Dutch are already moving to New Zealand and Australia or the U.S.

But where will they move if we fail? And where shall we in the U.S. move?

And we can fail !!

Posted by respeto at 1:40 PM