Robert Louis Stevenson – A Book Review – Part 1 – Treasure Island

 

 

 

Even aside from his skills as a story-teller Robert Louis Stevenson is an interesting personality .and lived in interesting times.  But I think I’ll save the biographical comments for one of the later chapters of this series.  I’ll just say that if he had never written another line, Treasure Island would still be enough to ensure his place in the literary pantheon.  I’ll say right at the beginning that I consider it the finest boy’s adventure story ever written.  I guess I’ve given away my conclusion but that’s too bad.

The story is simple enough.  Jim Hawkins is an English boy living in the 1700’s whose parents’ small seaside inn is visited by a mysterious old sailor whose bad character and eccentricities disturb the serenity of the place.  And when his associates arrive to threaten him Jim and his mother are in fear of their lives.  After a desperate struggle Jim is stunned to find that he has stumbled on a treasure map from the dread pirate Flint and with the help and backing of the local squire, John Trelawney and  his friend Dr. Livesey Jim finds himself on a treasure hunt on the good ship Hispaniola.

But Trelawney unwisely picks his own crew and unknowingly allows a one-legged former pirate named Long John Silver to man the Hispaniola with himself and the rest of Captain Flint’s old crew.  And the story chronicles the struggle between Jim, his friends and the intrepid Captain Smollett against this gang of cutthroats.  But surprisingly, John Silver is by far the most interesting character and Stevenson somehow manages to make him an attractive villain.  Without a doubt he is just as evil and murderous as the rest of the buccaneers but at the same time he is intelligent and even affable in his villainy.

Throughout the story Jim becomes the means by which the good characters manage to survive the long odds stacked against them.  And it is these lucky breaks and courageous decisions that provide the pivot points to move the story along.  Stevenson has managed to keep the plot taut and the story moves along nice and briskly.  And all the characters, even the pirates are filled in very skillfully and moments of humor and pathos are well written.  This book has been made into motion pictures several times and the 1934 version with Wallace Beery as Silver is extremely faithful to the book and quite enjoyable but I would recommend letting boys read or have read to them this book.  It’s a fantastic story and will fire the imagination of any boy who hears it.

Very highly recommended matey!  Certain it is!

The Great Revolt – by Salena Zito and Brad Todd – A Book Review – Part 3

In Part 2 of this review I said that the Great Revolt is divided into a number of chapters, each named after a particular group of Trump voters that because of their circumstances either flipped from the Democrats to Trump or stayed with Trump despite an ideological conflict with him.

For each of these categories there are several individuals who exemplify the profile but live in a different location.  These locations are rural, or towns and cities located in the ten counties in question in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In each of these categories and in each of these locations we are shown how the Democrats started out as the natural or default political party but ended up becoming the reason to vote for the unlikely personage of Donald J. Trump.  Although the list includes some individuals who are affluent and highly educated they all reside in areas of the country that have been taken for granted and at the same time abandoned by the Democratic Elite.  The people interviewed range from pillars of the community and entrepreneurs to folks who have barely survived hard economic times that coincided with personal tragedy and challenge.  But they all look to Donald Trump to correct problems.  Economic problems, cultural problems, moral problems.  Not all of these people are conservatives or even moderates.  Some are demonstrably old school Democrats.  But what they all are is self-described Americans.  None of them think of themselves as citizens of the world.  None of them have bought into the globalist perspective and many of them are obviously mourning for the death of their homes.  Places like Erie and Freeland Pennsylvania are for all intents and purposes dead.  There aren’t any growing industries and even the few employers left are slowly moving out to the sunbelt.  Young adults leave for opportunities elsewhere.  Parents and grandparents stay because they can’t sell their houses.  Who would buy them?  All they are left with is memories of happier times when they were part of a thriving community with a future and the dignity of earning a living and raising their families.  In these places voting for Donald Trump is almost a reflex.  A final self-defensive movement.

But other examples show communities that are still viable and even thriving but even in these places the inhabitants recognize that the Democrats don’t pretend to share the values that these communities still believe in.  Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio.  These are all places that are seeing themselves ignored because they are the areas where remnant blue collar communities are supposed to disappear and be replaced by the new constituencies that are earmarked for inclusion in the “coalition of the ascendant.”

So, speaking in broad generalities, who are the Trump voters that handed him Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa?  For the most part, they are the union guys who stopped voting for Republicans after Ronald Reagan.  If we start in the worst hit spot in the Rust Belt we’re in Pennsylvania.  Places like Erie and Wilkes Barre have been deconstructed to the point that it’s remarkable anyone at all is left.  After all the industries from yesteryear shut down and off-shored to China Obama finished it off by outlawing coal.  Places like Wisconsin are comparatively healthy.  Many of the largest manufacturers are gone but entrepreneurial types have stepped in and started smaller companies in emerging industries that still employ many people and keep the areas as viable communities for families and young adults to remain in.  In between these extremes is the rest of the gradient.  What they all share was a dependence on large scale union employment in heavy industry.  And because of this history they typically voted Democrat.  And they thought of the Republicans as their class enemies.  What they didn’t see happening was the Democrats moving on from needing them or more specifically pretending to care about their votes.  Once the Democrats had built up the “Coalition of the Ascendant,” these mid-west white union workers were an embarrassment to the rest of the coalition.  They weren’t college educated and they didn’t eat the right foods or care about the right causes and they might even believe in God.  So, the best thing to do was quietly stop talking about them and wait until they dropped dead so they could be replaced with some Central Americans or Middle Easterners.  But somehow, they are still there so they are looking for a new political home.  Donald Trump provided that.  He was the first Republican since Ronald Reagan to acknowledge their plight and actually come up with a plan for helping them.  Finally, let’s sum it up.

Bottom Line

Boiling down all the cases and places it comes down to this.  Donald Trump was elected president by the Rust Belt blue collar working areas because he was willing to promise to save them.

 

In the last part of this review I’ll give my thoughts on where we go from here.

The Great Revolt – by Salena Zito and Brad Todd – A Book Review – Part 2

In Part 1 of this review I said that there were a number of personal accounts by Trump voters in swing states that provided remarkable insight into how Trump was able to topple the Midwestern “Blue Wall.”  After finishing up the book I can confirm that this is the case.  But this only one of several facets that the book reveals about the current state of the American electorate and how it intersects with the political parties, the media, corporate America and the globalist elites in general.

I will divide the review into appropriate topics that correspond to the book’s logical components.  But first I’ll give a general synopsis of the overall conclusion of why Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

The bottom line is that Donald Trump ended up with a healthy majority of electoral votes (304 to 227) because just ten counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa flipped their votes from Democrat to Republican.  Each of these counties had voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012.  Trump was able to convince Democratic voters to vote for a Republican presidential candidate.  The rest of the book is devoted to figuring out why this happened and what the larger significance is.

The book is divided into a number of chapters, each named after a particular group of Trump voters that because of their circumstances either flipped from the Democrats to Trump or stayed with Trump despite an ideological conflict with him.

The categories are:

  • Red Blooded and Blue Collared
  • Perot-istas
  • Rough Rebounders
  • Girl Gun Power
  • Rotary Reliables
  • King Cyrus Christians
  • Silent Suburban Moms

The category names are probably transparent enough to more or less figure out what each group is defined by.

For each of these categories there are several individuals who exemplify the profile but live in a different location.  These locations are rural, town and cities located in the ten counties in question:

  1. Lee County, Iowa
  2. Howard County, Iowa
  3. Macomb County, Michigan
  4. Lake County, Michigan
  5. Ashtabula County, Ohio
  6. Stark County, Ohio
  7. Erie County, Pennsylvania
  8. Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
  9. Kenosha County, Wisconsin
  • Vernon County, Wisconsin

 

In each of these categories and in each of these locations we are shown how the Democrats went from being the natural or default choice to instead become the reason to believe in the unlikely personage of Donald J. Trump.  Although the list includes some individuals who are affluent and highly educated they all reside in areas of the country that have been either taken for granted or abandoned by the Democrat Elite.  They range from pillars of the community and entrepreneurs to folks who have barely survived hard economic times that coincided with personal tragedy and challenge.  But they all look to Donald Trump to correct problems.  Economic problems, cultural problems, moral problems.  Not all of these people are conservatives or even moderates.  Some are demonstrably old school Democrats.  But what they all are is self-described Americans.  None of them think of themselves as citizens of the world.  None of them have bought into the globalist perspective and many of them are obviously mourning for the death of their homes.  Places like Erie and Freeland Pennsylvania are for all intents and purposes dead.  There aren’t any growing industries and even the few employers left are slowly moving out to the sunbelt.  Young adults leave for opportunities elsewhere.  Parents and grandparents stay because they can’t sell their houses.  Who would buy them?  All they are left with is memories of happier times when they were part of a thriving community with a future and the dignity of earning a living and raising their families.  In these places voting for Donald Trump is almost a reflex.  A final self-defensive movement.  But other examples show communities that are still viable and even thriving but recognizing that the Democrats don’t pretend to care about the values that differentiate these communities from the progressive narrative.  Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio.  These are all places that are seeing themselves ignored because they are the areas where remnant blue collar communities are supposed to disappear and be replaced by the new constituencies that are earmarked for inclusion in the “coalition of the ascendant.”

In the next installment I’ll give my thoughts on some of the stories and what I think they mean to me, in other words, how they square with my own understanding of the American situation.