A REVIEW OF JAMIE GLAZOV’S SHOWDOWN WITH EVIL BY STEPEHN BROWN
Review: Showdown With Evil by Jamie Glazov
“We knew that once there was no moral confusion…once good and evil were kept separate, the Soviet Union’s days were numbered.”
In the above illuminating quote, former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky reveals the satisfaction, triumph and elation he felt as a prisoner in the notorious Soviet Gulag after he learned President Ronald Reagan had called the now defunct Soviet Union “an evil empire.” He and other incarcerated dissidents, he relates, were “ecstatic” when Reagan dispelled with his unqualified statement, once and for all, the “moral confusion” existing between freedom and democracy on the one hand and “the most fearsome totalitarian empire in human history” on the other.
It is this dispelling of moral confusion that also emerges as the outstanding characteristic and purpose of Jamie Glazov’s new, captivating and very informative book, Showdown With Evil: Our Struggle Against Tyranny and Terror, in which the Sharansky quote appears. In 29 highly interesting interviews with prominent writers and thinkers, Showdown With Evil deals smashing blows to civilization’s implacable enemies: Islamic extremism and its radical leftist ally, the book’s main targets. Divided into eight parts, the last entry being an interview with Glazov himself, Showdown With Evil’s bare-knuckle, head-on approach to the weighty problem of liberal democracies’ maintaining their freedom in the face of these dangers is both refreshing and one of the book’s high values.
This twin menace, radical Islam and the radical left, provided Glazov’s work with its title. As the book’s interviewees make abundantly clear, Islamic extremism and the radical left are both evil and tyrannical. And while the “terror” in the subtitle concerns radical Islam, after reading the book one would agree Glazov could easily have added the word “treason” for the hard left. And it is between the book’s covers that the hard-hitting and merciless showdown with the evil they represent takes place.
Glazov is well qualified to anchor such a tome. His own personal history accounts for his strong love of freedom and fierce opposition to tyranny. When he was seven years old, Glazov’s family had to leave the Soviet Union because his parents were Soviet dissidents who were given the choice of either imprisonment in the Gulag or emigrating. Both his father and mother wound up as university professors in Canada where Glazov grew up in a home environment that inculcated a love of learning that resulted in his earning a PhD in history. This familial respect for education is evident in Showdown With Evil in the intellectual admiration Glazov shows to each of his interviewees.
And it is also certainly due to this unique familial background that more space is devoted in the book to the depredations of the radical left. Not only in areas concerning its support for radical Islam, but also in other sections is the left taken to task, such as in Part V: The Evil Empire and in Part: VI: Leaving the Faith. In a way, Showdown With Evil is a sequel to Glazov’s highly acclaimed first book, United In Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyrranny and Terror.
The most fascinating and disturbing interview in the book concerning the left is the one Glazov conducts with Paul Kengor. Kengor, author of God and Ronald Reagan, outlines Ted Kennedy’s virtually unknown dealings with the KGB in the 1980s. Just as disturbing is the fact no major American news outlet would touch this startling revelation.
“I couldn’t get a single major news source to do a story on it. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC. Not one covered it,” Kengor said.
But among this intellectually rigorous assemblage of interviews, the most brilliant light falls on Natan Sharansky. In his exchange with Glazov, the former Soviet dissident not only astutely analyses why past peace accords with the Palestinians have failed, but what one must do to ensure a future one doesn’t. Peace can never be made with a dictatorship like the Palestinian one, since dictatorships will never respect the rights of their neighbors if they first don’t respect the rights of their own people. This is the lesson, Sharansky says, he learned from fellow dissident Andrei Sakharov.
“In the post-Arafat era, the success of the peace process will hinge whether the world finally focuses on what goes on inside Palestinian-controlled areas,” Sharansky states.
It is due to interviews like Sharansky’s that Showdown With Evil reads sometimes like a medical textbook, only it is much more riveting. A serious problem, usually concerning America’s body politic, is diagnosed and a remedy is then offered. A personal favourite is the interview with Theodore Dalrymple who scatters like chaff all the politically correct myths concerning heroin addiction. Unfortunately, in the interviews concerning the Obama administration, which includes very incisive and thought-provoking contributions from Dick Morris and Elliot Abrams, little can be done as the patient appears to be a terminal case.
Showdown With Evil, however, does have its lighter moments. Ann Coulter’s personal impression of Saddam Hussein’s capture is a hilarious example of her firebrand humor that so enrages the left. And along with his calling Jimmy Carter “a lost cause”, William F. Buckley, Jr. stresses the importance of a music education, revealing he played nine concerts as a soloist when a youngster. Who knew?
It probably goes without saying one will never see Showdown With Evil on college reading lists, especially since it shows radical leftists as uncomprehending and arrogant enemies of all human decency and not as the morally superior beings they believe they are. And this is only one of the false ideas the book can help the reader jettison. The book’s prime appeal, however, lies in its dissection through superb and exciting interviews of the danger the radical left and Islamic extremism pose to the civilized world. In this, Showdown With Evil accomplishes its purpose, making it a book of stature that is well worth reading.
Stephen Brown is a freelance writer with a graduate degree in Eastern European history.
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