Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Hanson on Midge Decter’s Rumsfeld

Victor Davis Hanson praises Midge Decter’s little book on a big subject, Donald Rumsfeld. Unsurprisingly, he places the volume in the larger context of what a biography should be at its best: "The Greeks invented the art of biography as an exercise in moral philosophy. The lives of ’preeminent’ statesmen and generals were to serve as ethical exemplars—both good and bad—for the rest of us, subject as we are to the same all-too-human appetites and temptations. Thus, the early years of an Alcibiades, an Alexander, or a Cicero were mined by Plutarch for anecdotes that might reveal an unchanging and essential character, its elements becoming more manifest during the crucible of adulthood and thereby accounting for the subject’s ultimate achievement. It is this biographical tradition—not the current American bathos of fact-filled, gossip-ridden megabooks about celebrities—that Midge Decter has returned to in her succinct essay on our current Secretary of Defense."

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