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Citizens of Natstown Washington Baseball Annual, Vol. 1
Citizens of Natstown Washington Baseball Annual, Vol. 1
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Pre-Season Read, March 30, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A nice player-by-player analysis of the 2013 Washington Nationals, their farm system, and their competition this season, The book would have benefitted from a tight line edit and from an explanation of the different kinds of statistics used throughout.


Amazon Kindle Touch Lighted Leather Cover, Saddle Tan (does not fit Kindle Paperwhite)
Amazon Kindle Touch Lighted Leather Cover, Saddle Tan (does not fit Kindle Paperwhite)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Problem was with Kindle, not case, November 22, 2011
When the light didn't work I assumed the case was the culprit. Amazon Customer Service, excellent as always, shipped me a replacement Kindle and now the case light works fine. Guess the Kindle was the culprit!

The case itself is stylish and it mates precisely and snugly with the K Touch. My only qualm is that the light feels a tad flimsy, although it does illuminate the entire screen nicely.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2011 5:48 AM PST


Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy
Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy
by Eric D. Weitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.62
64 used & new from $3.40

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Incomplete Political Analysis, February 26, 2008
The rise of the hyper-specialized academic, overbred for success (read tenure) in a clubby, overpoliticized hothouse (read department of history), deprives educated general readers of first class yet accessible works of the caliber their parents or grandparents enjoyed. The days when Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (Harvard) or Richard Hofstadter (Columbia) commanded substantial readerships are long gone. There are exceptions, of course, and a number of fine writers outside the academy have stepped forward partially to bridge that gap. Occasionally an academic publisher seeks consciously to marry cutting-edge scholarship to engaging, accessible prose. Princeton University Press aims high with its lavishly illustrated presentation (including one of the most beautiful covers ever to adorn a historical monograph) of Eric D. Weitz's Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. Unfortunately, the text itself is something of a mixed bag.

At least one of the other reviews here suggests that Weitz offers little that one could not find elsewhere, including the first volume of Richard Evans's Third Reich trilogy. This is correct, at least with regard to Weimar politics, but not in my view necessarily objectionable. Plainly Weitz aims here at an introduction for readers new to the subject. And Weitz covers far more than Weimar politics. The problems here, and the book's real strengths partially offset them, pertain to Weitz's pedestrian and at times repetitive prose, and to his selective assignment of blame for the Weimar Republic's political demise. One is sorely tempted to trace both deficiencies back to Weitz's abode in the academic hothouse.

First, though, the book does a number of things well enough. Chapter length summaries introduce us to significant developments in architecture and housing design; in literature and theater; to conflicts over new, modern ideals regarding bodies, sex, and women's role in society. For many readers, the concise precis of Bruno Taut's housing projects (a boon to German workers who now would enjoy modern utilities plus windows open to the sun and greenery--but in other aspects designed "the way people should live, whether they liked it or not"), or Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, or Billy Wilder's Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday) will amply justify their investment of time and energy in this book.

But modernism, Weimar Germany's oversized contributions notwithstanding, was not a uniquely German phenomenon. Those who seek in these pages an explanation of what made Weimar unique may not leave fully satisfied. Weitz asserts that during the 1920s and early 1930s, Weimar was the situs of an especially vibrant kinetic energy, one that pulsed more intensely because Germany had lost the First World War. Having experienced a greater sense of postwar disillusion, Weitz writes, Germans experienced a more acute effort by "artists, writers, and political organizers... to unravel the meaning of modernity." This may very well be correct, but Weitz does not really prove it. Possibly doing so would require a different book, one that embraced a more comparative approach.

Weitz's inclusion of "political organizers" among the great modernists brings us to the nub of his analysis. As Weitz shows, the harsh traditionalist reaction to modernist cultural advance was only one front of a broader indictment of perceived "un-Germanic" elements in the extant culture, government, and populace. Words like nomadic, uprooted, and Bolshevist were flung with equal fervor at the Bauhaus, the republic and the Jew. Well before Hitler assumed the Chancellorship, Weitz writes, "the attack on the modernists became entwined with ever-growing race thinking."

But Weitz attributes Weimar's demise exclusively (or nearly so; he can be a bit clever on this point) to a determined political effort by the nationalist political Right, which ever considered the republic an alien imposition upon the German Reich. The problem here is that the German Communist party also denied Weimar's legitimacy, also sought violently to overthrow it, and also contributed significantly to its demise.

Weitz's response, enunciated briefly at several points in his text, is that the Communists were never strong enough to overturn Weimar democracy while right-wing nationalist parties culminating in the Nazi movement were. This is true of course, but the better question is whether Weimar might have survived had its Communist foes instead lent their support to German democracy. Flanked on either end of the political spectrum by revolutionary, anti-democratic parties, the democrats never quite commanded majority support, and they proved that much weaker when the final showdown came. In that sense, extreme nationalists and communists alike were responsible for Weimar's demise.

Among the Weimar Republic's real and ultimately fatal weaknesses was that its army, civil service, and judiciary all substantially accepted the right-wing nationalist charge of republican illegitimacy. Weitz repeatedly blames the democrats for failing fully to reform them, or, as he puts it, to "clear away the old order" during the rush of the 1918 revolution. Well, yes. But at the time (1918-21), the Social Democrats and their allies instead were expending their limited political capital coming to terms with those institutions -- a move necessitated by Communist efforts violently to overthrow the fledgling democracy. If there was a way to purge the army -- at that moment or later--Weitz doesn't reveal it.

So in the end, says Weitz, Weimar failed for its unwillingness to clear away the old order. That's always a popular prescription on campus, but not always feasible in the real world.

These caveats aside, this is not a bad choice for the reader who plans on reading only one book on Weimar. If, however, one's interest runs more toward arts, letters, and culture, one might look instead I suppose to Peter Gay. For political analysis, Richard Evans' The Coming of the Third Reich remains a superior choice.


Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy
Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy
by G. Edward White
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.44
86 used & new from $0.01

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Did He Lie?, December 21, 2006
Those who believe that that human understanding progresses over time may take comfort in the fact that for all but the most ideologically besotted and intellectually corrupt the question of Alger Hiss's guilt is no longer of much interest. For G.E. White, the Traitor Hiss was self-evidently just that and the real issue instead: why did he lie, lie for 40 years after his conviction and imprisonment for perjury, lie to his supporters, lie to his friends and, most of all, lie to and thereby debauch his own son, enlisting filial devotion in his selfish and ultimately futile quest for a thoroughly underserved vindication? White, the David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, organizes his study around these psychological questions, but also he supplies an admirably concise review of the Hiss case, and, most importantly, describes the intellectual climate in which the traitor and his allies succeeded for a time in muddying the historical waters, not least for a younger generation of Americans raised on tales of America's Cold War perfidy.

Alger Hiss, for those schooled after the Vietnam War persuaded much of the American Left that anti-Communism merely licensed McCarthyite hunter-gatherers to trample civil rights and cut doe-eyed New Dealers from the pack, transcended relatively humble origins to fashion an identity as a rising star of the old Eastern Establishment. As Clerk to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Boston and New York attorney, and Agriculture Department price regulator, Hiss cultivated the erect posture, firm handshake and sincere bearing that carried him to the Department of State, where he again rose through the ranks, numbering among his friends future Secretaries of State Edward Stettinius and Dean Acheson, attended the Yalta Conference, then presided over the San Francisco Conference that created the United Nations, then as now the collective repository for mugwumpish internationalist idealism.

Hiss also was a Soviet agent, and eventually was fingered as such by former Party operative Whittaker Chambers. Chambers was portly, religious, dentally challenged--- hardly the sort for whom John Foster Dulles would arrange, as he did for Hiss, a golden parachute at the Carnegie Endowment when Alger's State Department career dimmed. But Chambers had stashed away typewritten copies of purloined State Department documents, as insurance against retribution when he broke with the Party. Those copies, the FBI concluded, had been typed

on the Hiss family typewriter. A perjury conviction and 44 month jail sentence followed, after which, in 1954, Alger Hiss began his life-long campaign to re-write the history books.

White's calls this campaign Hiss's `looking-glass wars.' A natural spy, Hiss "appears to have taken pleasure in the pursuit of covert goals and in the creation of devices to shield that pursuit from others." His strategy was to cultivate a persona of temperate reasonableness; in other words to convince others that "he was not the sort of person who could conceivably have such secrets." White traces this theme through four phases of Hiss's life: his Supreme Court Clerkship, when he dissembled his way past Justice Holmes' mandate that clerks remain unmarried during their term of employment; his `pillar of the establishment' defense to Chambers' charges; his term in Lewisburg federal penitentiary, where Hiss gradually earned the respect of his fellow prisoners; and finally, the serene countenance he subsequently presented, an invitation to all who gazed upon it to conclude that a man so at peace with himself (so different in this respect than his two principal tormenters: the at-times suicidal Chambers and the tenebrific Nixon) surely was innocent.

To the extent that internal peacefulness was genuine, its true source was of course Hiss' ideological commitment to Communism and political loyalty to the Soviet Union. A traitor to the end of his days, Hiss adhered to the standard Moscow demanded of all its agents: if exposed, deny; if convicted, maintain innocence all your life. Thus, while White is persuasive on the tactics of Hiss's campaign, the most interesting parts of his book explain instead how Hiss persuaded so many of his innocence in the face of mounting evidence from U.S. and Soviet archives to the contrary. The Hiss defense, it helps to recall, amounted to the assertion that Hiss was more credible than Chambers, toward whom the Hiss forces directed a notably vigorous whispering campaign alleging among other things Chambers' homosexuality, coupled with the lame hypothesis that it was all a set-up, involving the FBI and assorted other baddies (one that rather improbably required a duplicate typewriter and a decade-long conspiracy, all to frame one self-important mid-level official). Given the weakness of Hiss's case, the thorough and damning 1978 study by Allen Weinstein (appointed Archivist of the United States by President Bush in the face of an ad hominem attack not unlike the one Hiss's allies launched against Chambers), the documents that became available after the fall of the Soviet Union and finally the release of the "Venona Papers," transcripts of coded Soviet transmissions deciphered by the National Security Agency, all of which supported Chambers' allegations, the question remains: how could any one have been taken in?

As Hiss recognized from the very first, he at least was fortunate in his enemies. Chambers was a quixotic character, and his supporter was the Prince of Darkness himself. A Democrat congressional staffer once remarked "I don't think we can clearly nail Nixon as a liar, although he undoubtedly is one, in this instance, as in all others." Given the sheer venom that much of what we today call "Blue" America directed at Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover and their ilk, Hiss shrewdly positioned himself as one of their many victims: were his accusers' reputations to suffer, ideally for misconduct toward real victims, Hiss would benefit. By depicting himself as the victim par excellence of rabid anti-Communism, Hiss similarly reaped the post-Vietnam rewards when American liberalism, with a few honorable exceptions, went AWOL for the balance of the Cold War.

By draping his cause in ideological standards, Hiss freed his supporters from contesting the still unfriendly facts of the case. And there should be no doubt that those supporters cared about defending Soviet Marxism and not the truth. When Allen Weinstein began work on Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, he was somewhat sympathetic to Hiss and expected to argue for his innocence. When the evidence persuaded Weinstein otherwise, friends of Hiss regretted bitterly their decision to cooperate with the project. "Weinstein came to see me under false colors," said one, "I never would have said a word to him if I'd known he was friendly to Chambers." Another announced tartly that the purpose of his assistance was "to prove that Alger was framed and a victim of McCarthyism. Otherwise, I was given a bum steer and my time and trouble was for nothing."

Hiss's campaign sought far more than his personal vindication. Were he to persuade Americans that prosecution of a Communist and genuine traitor was instead anti-Communist persecution of a liberal New Dealer, he would discredit anti-Communism as fundamentally illiberal and serve his Soviet masters even beyond their own ignominious demise. Among the segments of American society most susceptible to this anti-anti-Communism were the academy and the liberal media. While White does not address the former, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr's Denial: Historians, Communism and Espionage more than amply plumbs how some American historians continue to prostitute themselves, debase their profession, and sully the cause of truth, the better to brand opponents of social collectivism as "McCarthyites" and worse.

White devotes considerable attention to "mainstream" media coverage of Hiss, contrasting nicely PBS's 1983 Hiss-friendly American Playhouse offering with the Reagan Administration's

decision to award the Medal of Freedom posthumously to Whittaker Chambers. Still worse was the Pavlovian response to the 1992 Volkogonov incident. In that year, Hiss cleverly wrote a number of Russian officials, asking that they attest he had never served the Soviet Union. One, the historian and former General Dimitri Volkogonov, on the basis of a mere two days research in the KGB archives (Hiss had spied for Soviet military intelligence, not the KGB) and after some prodding by a Hiss confederate issued the desired clean bill of health, which Hiss's allies released to the press on October 29.

With the publication of Volkogonov's letter, the liberal media was quick to trumpet Hiss's triumph. All three "major" television networks reported the story that very evening and CBS followed the next morning with the assertion that Hiss had been "apparently exonerated." "Hiss never spied," added USA Today while Newsweek announced the "bittersweet vindication." CNN aired a commentary asking why the U.S. government had not yet exonerated Hiss. The New Yorker afforded Tony Hiss a platform for "My Father's Honor," and, least surprising of all, National Public Radio reached into its stable of "experts," finding one who duly confirmed that the "vindication" of Hiss revealed the excesses of anti-Communism.

Unfortunately for the media pack, it only took a few weeks for Volkogonov to issue a damning retraction. "What I saw gives no basis to claim a full clarification," he wrote on November 24. His motives for writing the letter had been "primarily humanitarian" and an accommodation to Hiss's agent, who argued that Hiss "wanted to die peacefully" and "pushed me to say things of which I was not fully convinced." None of the television networks that reported Volkogonov's first letter, White observes, ever covered the retraction. No newspaper mentioned the retraction until December 17. As late as December 13, The New York Times still reported that Volkogonov had exonerated Hiss and that Chambers had never been a Soviet agent. The Palme d'Or, though, must be reserved for Peter Jennings, favorite news mannequin of Americans who otherwise take their news from the BBC. On Hiss's death in 1996, Jennings reported: "Hiss... protested his innocence until the very end.... And last year, we reported that the Russian president Boris Yeltsin said that KGB files had supported Mr. Hiss's claim."

Alger Hiss had the good sense to pass away just before the floodgates opened. In 1997, Allen Weinstein published the second edition of Perjury, grounded in primary research in the Comintern archives, and a subsequent analysis of KGB files. By 1999, these and the aforementioned VENONA transcripts had put paid to all but the most slippery claims for Hiss's innocence.

Even so, the name Alger Hiss retains enormous significance. Stripped of any respectable claim to innocence, Hiss remains a useful tool for those who would discredit his opponents--- not for accusing an innocent man but for defending freedom from a murderous ideology and the United States from an aggressive totalitarian adversary. For this reason their successors--- academic fellow travelers and media dupes--- seek to muddy the historical waters. We must not let them.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2013 9:02 AM PDT


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