Mary Eberstadt has been treated shamefully by First Things. Well, maybe that's a little strong, but she wrote a very important book called Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes, and it has never been featured in First Things' pages. Book reviews fail to materialize for a variety of reasons at any magazine, but it's unusual for all of those reasons to apply to one book, and every time we tried to get a review of Home-Alone America, it fell through.
A statement of the central thesis appeared in the journal Policy Review, where Mary Eberstadt is a consulting editor, and you can read it online here to get the flavor of her argument. James Q. Wilson praised the book in the Wall Street Journal, and Stanley Kurtz gave it a solid overview in National Review. The Washington Post sneered at it, the Weekly Standard bowed toward it, and that significant journal First Things said . . . um, we said, "Sorry, Mary." Go buy this book now. It's a vital account of parenting in America.
Princeton's James Madison Program asked me to come down and give a talk this fall. I figured them Princeton kids are way too happy, and somebody's gotta show 'em the melancholy side of things before they get to thinking that life is all Ivy League and strawberry shortcake. So I picked the two most depressing topics I could think of, and I'll be speaking this Wednesday about "Death and Politics." They tell me the lecture is free and open to the public. [RJN: What public, Jody? Recently deceased politicians?] Anyway, it's Wednesday, November 9, at 4:30 pm, in Room 104 of the Computer Science building on Princeton University's campus.
The December issue of First Things has just gone to the printer and should be out in a couple weeks. Eric Cohen writes on biotech, and Michael Behe on science, and Wilfred McClay on the concept of the self, and John Wilson, the editor of Books & Culture, rounds up the year in books so you can do your Christmas shopping, and an occasional contributor named Richard John Neuhaus has a major essay called "Our American Babylon," on religion and something he insists on calling the public square. Meanwhile, for our computerized friends, there's a special treat: Jonathan V. Last, on-line editor of the Weekly Standard and the Torquemada of the Web, nails a few theses to the door in "God on the Internet." Not to give the ending away, but his concluding advice for religious bloggers is "Shut off your computer. Take a deep breath. Go to church."