Five books to read in 2023, Dec. 25: 

If you are like me, you have more books on the shelves than you can ever read, which also means that when you do read them, it may be a later calendar year than their release dates. Still, many of them retain freshness for several years at least.

In that spirit, and while leaving aside escapist fiction and books more than a few years old, here are five newish books touching on public policy that I read in the past year that are each worth a look from public-issue wonks.

The Original Meaning of the 14th Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit, byRandy E. Barnett and Evan D. Bernick. I start with the one most intellectually challenging even for specialists in the field — but also the one that most comprehensively sheds much-needed new light on an old question. Constitutional law wonks have argued for a century and a half about how to interpret the phrases “due process of law,” “equal protection,” and especially the much-discussed but usually neglected “privileges or immunities,” all of which either do or should have profound ramifications for how the Constitution is interpreted in ways consequential for American life…. (And four other books as well….)

Short tributes to ten who died in 2022, Dec. 30:  (Richard Leakey, Sidney Poitier, Charley Taylor, Roger Angell, Mark Shields, Olivia Newton-John, Frederick Buechner, Tom Weiskopf, Laurence Silberman, Ray Guy. If you don’t know who some of these are, read on….)

You may not have heard of Frank Shakespeare, but he served America well, Dec. 16: If Frank Shakespeare Jr., who died on Dec. 14 at age 97, had not so long outlived most of his contemporaries, far more encomiums would be flowing for this onetime conservative luminary, ambassador, and apostle of freedom.

Shakespeare, who in the private sector served in major executive roles at CBS, RKO, and Westinghouse, did yeoman’s work as head of the U.S. Information Agency under President Richard Nixon and as President Ronald Reagan’s chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting, overseeing Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, spreading freedom’s truth to those enslaved by Communism. ….


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