Monday, July 03, 2017

NOT an actual email from a book author...

To be quite clear....

I did not receive the following email from any Duke colleague, or any professor of history. But I did receive the email, and I thought I would repost it.  It pretends (falsely) to be a summary of my review of Democracy in Chains. It isn't. But it is fair to say this is what the author might have said.


Thanks so much for the very positive review and affirmation of my book Democracy in Chains by my colleague Duke Professor of Political Science Dr. Michael Munger. Please find below salient extracts from Dr. Munger’s review.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, by my Duke University colleague, Nancy MacLean, a professor in our distinguished Department of History… is… a remarkable book. MacLean has argued persuasively throughout her career for the historical method…in this book… MacLean recounts an exchange, a conversation really, between two conservatives…intent on reverse-engineering a …political order in America…using shadowy methods and discredited theories. Democracy in Chains is a work of …historical...research underpinning …facts … from a much larger record…drawing reliable conclusions about history. 

Democracy in Chains is a great story… of … James M. Buchanan, the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. MacLean is able to decode the true meaning of his …writings which…sought … to bring down.. America and replace it with a plutocracy. …MacLean’s excellence as a writer,…careful sifting of evidence and respectful encounters with opposing points of view…reveal … that …Buchanan … wanted to establish a …society …for racial segregation… 

MacLean’s book…is admirably academic and careful. … MacLean …found …the attempt by segregationist forces to support vouchers. MacLean says, “The economists made their case in the race-neutral, value-free language of their discipline, offering what they depicted as a strictly economic argument—on ‘matters of fact, not values.’” MacLean … support the claim that Buchanan advocated vouchers for the purpose of achieving segregation. … Buchanan’s support for vouchers and for school choice arose from a deeply held concern for …a …repressive apartheid society where African-Americans were …murderous and … must be forcibly suppressed… MacLean has discovered a number of important documents from the history of Public Choice, and other aspects of the history of the 1960s and 1970s in academic economic circles. There is a terrific example on pp. 115–117, where the “glee” of Buchanan and others about their conspiracy, gathered around a roaring fire in the remote mountains of Virginia, is documented.

 … MacLean has…written that history, using … public documents that … destroy...the conspiracy; …that … would sweep the nation, and the world… When summarized in this way, MacLean’s thesis really does read like a … narrative thread connecting the documents and discussions that …strategize about how to win back the White House and rejuvenate the conservative movement… The contribution of Democracy in Chains, then, is to do two things…Identify James Buchanan as the focal point of the revolution, and identify the content of Public Choice research and teaching as anti-Constitutional and anti-democratic… As I hope has been clear, as a book Democracy in Chains is well-written, and the research it contains is both interesting and …illuminating…as an actual history…of the work of James Buchanan …to end democracy in America. 

My thanks to the actual author of this email, Steve Spearman. And he is right: every word of the above actually appears in my review, and in precisely this order!