By Gordon Wood

The chapters and passages in Empire of Liberty about unpolitical, business affairs, social events and participating individuals are the strongest: Education, the arts, society, sociologies and cultural anthropologies of business, and the general thinking of Americans and their temper and mood. On that score the book is invaluable.

Exposition about the government, politics and the men is flawed. I observe in one Amazon criticism, the commentator states the book is episodic. To describe business and social activities, arrangements and the men by episode can make an accurate presentation. The actions and the individuals are usually isolated from one another.

Telling of national politics and the men in episodes tells nothing, no story and little about the men and the issues that were changing. This approach weakens Empire. These men – Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington and others – knew one another well. They acted and reacted, playing games against strengths and weaknesses of the others. Madison excelled at the game playing. He set things up, stepped back and watched.

He may have been the Father of the Constitution, and the Father of American Politics and the Father of the Bill of Rights, but for eight years 1815-1823, there was little or no political opposition in the United States. That was Madison.

All historians, political scientists and others rely on Madison’s Notes of the Constitutional Convention, 1787. Yet in 1789 and after when Madison was in Congress guiding Revenue Bills though, establishing Cabinet offices, advancing the Bill of Rights, setting the Capital site, working on the debt, Empire inaccurately describes the proceedings and a culminating result in the Grand Compromise of 1790. No one believes or relies on Madison. Empire is remiss in this omission.

Consider corporations [Charters of Incorporation], an issue of 1791. The American colonial experience was the king’s granting charters, thereby setting up monopolies. The East India Company of Tea Party fame was one such entity. Americans disfavored corporations. When Madison proposed during the Constitutional Convention to give Congress the power to grant charters(1787), it was rejected.

Empire presents the impression that charters of incorporation were well know and working in America. Its view is anachronistic, using law and facts of the 1880s. Two excellent attorneys/justices of the early Republic, James Wilson and John Marshall, dismissed the business form in the 1790s. A real go at incorporation was made by John Jacob Astor in 1807; it does not resemble anything presented in Empire. (See David Lavender, Fist In The Wilderness) [Note Abraham Lincoln studying law in Illinois during the 1830s found the corporate form new and interesting,
(David Herbert Donald, Lincoln)]

Note in Empire the text relies on the Dartmouth case (1819), 30 years after the first Congress. Chief Justice Marshall wrote the opinion but did not discuss the power to incorporate, or who had it. He interpreted the law, documents and contracts, and the Constitution.

Other errors in Empire suggest the author did not research and write the text, or he was exceedingly careless.
Page 446. George Mason, according to Madison’s Notes of the Constitutional Convention, 1787, said almost nothing during debates. He did not favor the Council of Revision; James Wilson and James Madison vociferously supported this issue and suffered repeated defeats. George Mason wanted a Council of the Executive like the one existing in Virginia, to control the Governor. Mason had written the Virginia Constitution. At the national level such a Council would control the President.
After William Haller’s books about Puritanism, no historian should ever call anyone in New England a Calvinist, a European term. In Empire the text does. However, the text reveals Presbyterians and Independents (Cromwell’s sect) in the Dartmouth case. (Pilgrims were separatists.) Almost everyone else in the settling of New England was an Independent, to become known in the eighteenth century as Congregationalists.
Misquotes misrepresent Jefferson and Madison’s opinions of the Constitution. Empire uses early quotes. Both men evolved in their thinking, leaving earlier opinions, like Hamilton’s statements, historical additives and eccentricities. Indeed both Jefferson and Madison were willing to use precedent to sidestep Constitutional rigors. During the legislation and ratification of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), Rufus King wondered how they could change governmental power defined by the Constitution by using the Treaty Power. Jefferson and Madison merely used the same processes employed by the Federalists when they passed the Jay Treaty(1796). The same procedures were used at the end of the Mexican-American war (1848).
John Taylor of Caroline County (Virginia) is misrepresented. He is hardly the philosopher of the Republican Party. He had a father figure who lived close by, Edmund Pendleton, perhaps the best judge of the eighteenth century English world. Pendleton was known, respected and loved by everyone – Henry, Washington, Jefferson, Marshall. He was a confident of Madison’s. How prominent was Pendleton, other than being on Virginia’s highest court? In 1765 after it was discovered that John Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, had embezzled public funds, mostly giving the money to prominent Virginians, Pendleton undertook the task of getting the money back. By 1803 the job was not complete; he died. He left the work to John Marshall. In 1798 Pendleton published in newspapers a letter critical of President Adams, his administration and the Federalists. No one came down the lane to arrest Pendleton for violation of the Sedition Act. This is all to say that at best, John Taylor was a puppet for the men (Pendleton and Madison) pulling the strings in the backroom.
It is anachronistic as Empire does to view “null and void” as Southerners did in 1830-1865. Jefferson’s draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, originally intended for North Carolina, was greatly changed by Wilson Cary Nicholas and the Kentucky Legislature. Jefferson proposed Committees of Correspondence in each state to communicate and to react to the Alien and Sedition Acts. (1798) What did Jefferson mean by “null and void?” He likely relied on the same definition used by that infamous radical/revolutionary, James Otis of Massachusetts (1764): “As the Acts of Parliament, An Act against the Constitution is void: An Act against natural Equity, it should be void; and if the Act of Parliament be made, in the very words of the Petition, it should be void.” The word, null, has no legal impact without its mate void.
P. 184. Empire praises Hamilton’s Pacificus essays, but they are difficult to defend. Facts deleted from Empire manifest Madison’s response (Helvidius Essays) destroyed Hamilton’s essays by citing The Federalist Papers, written by Hamilton, against assertions Pacificus.

Other issues of error and misrepresentation appear in Empire. One chapter is a mundane discussion of points of Judicial Review, a power given the Courts by the sovereign. In the 1780s Massachusetts abolished slavery within the state by Judicial Review (opinion and judgment). In Virginia the Court of Blair, Wythe, and Pendleton accepted the power; it was taught in law courses. John Marshall grew up knowing it, read the Constitution and participated in the Virginia Convention (1788). He further discussed all legal issues with Madison and Pendleton and others and was influenced long before the opinions of Marbury vs. Madison and other cases.

Err in Empire of Liberty distorts the politics and the economics, and a complete view of the 1789-1815 period; each wrong has not been set forth. In Empire men of the Early Republic are unknown to one another. Legislation and proposals are isolated and presented as surprises, oddities and ineffective efforts to accomplish their purposes. No man was correct all the time, but the sense that Hamilton is correct, is wrong. e.g. He was instrumental in his party’s loss in the election of 1800, once again those facts being omitted from Empire.



The Lesser Evil, 1945-1959

The secondary title supposedly refers to the comparison of Nazism to Communism. The author’s well-known, excellent World War Two diaries set in Dresden where he was living are compelling and dramatic. Therein, Klemperer is less an academic and less intellectual and more human and communicative.

This single volume of his last 14 years of life seem academic with pretense to intellectualism. He is a professor but not set to one location. The writing is onerous and much less clear; he seems confused and conflicted as a diarist. Why did the Chicken cross the road? Should I also cross the road? Will the chicken be there if I cross the road after it does? is If the chicken becomes road kill should I consume the remainder?

Much was goofed up in Germany after World War Two. The Americans Army fed itself well. It organized much in its sector using non-Nazi Germans and German Jews. But Klemperer has few good impressions to report about the Soviets, except they are not Nazis.

I read until I got to one repeated point: Social pressures to join this organization or another group to support the establishment seemed like high school. Klemperer reacts and joins, if he can go 10 or 20 miles, to meetings. Be part of the influential class, the in-group and popular and be comfortable. Early on he isn’t at ease; his diet is monotonous; it’s hard to visit friends, if they can be found; there is no work for him, although he is recognized as an authority in his field.

I did not need to read another 500 pages of this East German Storm and Trag, not well-expressed and always relying on some remote big-wig’s good will who might drive Klemperer to an event one evening yet by the next week be arrested to put into prison.


Editors, Cox & Gilbert

The Introduction of this book is the most entertaining section. The authors swoon about Victorian writers putting together hundreds of Ghost Stories. In Victorian England Christmas was a good time for ghost stories, an expectation Charles Dickens capitalized on with A Christmas Carole. The authors say there were strict formats that demanded quality writing. However, a reader’s experience differs. Some stories are chronological. Hence, write about one character, repeat the same traits and activities about the next. But for the activities of the third character, the author uses, “Meanwhile, this or that…” The thread of the story is lost, and the reader can guess which character – one, two or three – has or deserves the floor.

I stopped reading in A. Y. Akerman, The Miniature, when I stumbled into the following paragraph:

‘At the breakfast table I was moody and thoughtful, which my friend perceiving,
attempted a joke; but I was in no humour to receive it, when Maria, in a
compassionating tone, remarked I looked unwell, and that I should take a walk
or a ride before breakfast, adding that she and George S— had walked for an hour
or more in the plantation near the house. Though this announcement was certainly
but ill calculated to ease my mind, it was yet made with such an artless air, that my
more gloomy surmises vanished; and I rallied;…’

Being in a disagreeable mood at the breakfast table without humor and appearing unwell, one might disregard comments, but to reveal anything about all the persons at the table, tell what the joke was. Perhaps friends looking sickly in Victorian England were invited to walk or ride interrupting breakfast and avoiding whatever substance they could consume. Go outdoors and get pneumonia!

However, the character has no mind of his own. He thought of none of those remedies. Note this character appears whimsical and supercilious with no will or fortitude of his own:

Through his announcement was certainly but ill calculated to afford perfect ease
to my mind, it was yet made with such an artless air, that my more gloomy
surmises vanished, and I rallied;…

As far as the reader can tell, the author of the suggestion came to the table with hand fulls of uppers and passed them around. This character popped a couple and was set for the morning. Suspending disbelief which this paragraph requires, all readers can see it is variable and nonsense: Note, the character describes himself as “moody and thoughtful;” it becomes “unwell” and next in the character’s mind he is “gloomy.” Why does the author of this piece drop in adverbs, “but ill calculated” and “yet made.”

This is not acceptable writing in middle school. Writing must make sense – communicate clearly – to be good, solid and worthy.


An experienced German espionage agent [Philip Seymour Hoffman] trusts his superiors, internal German police and American espionage agents. He tries to conduct a successful espionage operation but in the end everyone he contacts is arrested.

From the beginning a wary German agent [Hoffman] lets his guard down. He is open, revealing everything. The denouement shows Hoffman telling of his plans, including the transfer of money to characters in an office building and how everyone involved with leave. What is annoying is the absence of spyycraft. Most of the people Hoffman meets leave by the front door, together.

More shocking is Hoffman is on the street and does not notice surveillance, or the people ready to make arrests.

If one is a wary spy, supposedly throughout the story, he must be wary at the end. People assembled in the office ought to leave individually by various exits – racing from the garage on a motorcycle, crawling three blocks through air conditioning vents or jumping off the roof and sailing along in a hang glider – that sort of thing, those sorts of thing. None of these happen. Spy Hoffman is surprised and enfeebled. He reveals he is unfit for the espionage business.

Thereupon, other than seeing Hoffman in his last movie, this is a film to avoid.


When I watch real crime shows sometimes the stupidness of victims, cops, witnesses, friends and family, jump out, are truly incomprehensible, inexplicable mind-numbing and appalling. Herein I will attempt to give as many facts as I can remember, which are or seem connected to the incidences presented on the tube, to describe and define the utter failure of human behavior and investigation.

In April 2017 and in July 2017 I published CRIME I and CRIME 2. CRIME 3 is my latest summary of aberrant, decadent, deceptive behavior.

I. Fifty year old girlfriend has hot relationship with victim and plans to move to Florida with him. She leaves for the day. When she returns to his house, where she had been staying; boyfriend is not there. Girlfriend is crushed. She walks around the house. She sees boyfriend-victim inside. He does not move to her knocking. She believes he is ignoring her. She goes to a bar, has a few drinks and is disgusted he won’t answer the phone. She returns to her house, heartbroken. Three days later boyfriend’s daughter calls a friend who checks the house. The police get involved.
When girlfriend was knocking on the door and seeing boyfriend inside, murderers of
boyfriend were hiding inside. If girlfriend were aware and was not crushed, she was awake and engaged, she only had to call 9ll, wait and expect the crime to be stopped. NOPE.

II. Regarding Wills. A woman kills a second husband, also using anti-freeze. She goes to a
friend after the death; friend witnesses a new will of the second husband. Does perjury come to mind? How about forgery? How about conspiracy? How about civil actions of conversion and conspiracy? Would no one notice any of these acts in an investigation of the husband’s death?

III. Too dumb. Man marries a childhood sweetheart as soon as possible. A kid came. Financial hardship. Divorce. Other partners. Husband has no idea how to handle exes and his present women. His IQ descends to 61, but no one who knows or associated with him sees his decline. While visiting with his ex, he is shot in the chest with a shotgun, but the verdict is manslaughter – 12 year sentence. Nobody can believe the victim’s behaviors in life. The ex-wife serves only two years of the 12.
The apparent moral of the story: A murderer can kill as many stupid human beings as she wants.

IV. Two family murders, or relive your childhood. Mother-daughter, father-son forget all sense of family. They are comfortable because they are familiar with each other. And frequently it is the parents who succumbs to the child’s violent actions and ways of thinking. The murderous parents learn that telling lies as an adult is less convincing and less excused than lying as a teenager.

V. No one can understand unless they’ve gone through a horrible crime (rape, kidnapping, home invasion, etc.) themselves. This statement has nothing to do with solving a crime, and is irrelevant. It is also WRONG. People who say such things have no imaginations; they do not understand the significance and importance of books and intelligence. Law enforcement understands enough, or more, to capture such criminals. Novelists, non-fiction writer and journalists must understand to relay the stories.

VI. A woman can have a high IQ, be bright and engaging, have a promising imagination, be the star of her school, garner awards and achievements, and be in a lucrative profession. Next, the world learns this woman is a complete moron about love – dating bad boys, failing to use her intelligence to discriminate, differentiate and judge among men, and finding herself at great disadvantages physically, mentally and emotionally.
MORAL: A woman should use her strengths to investigate and decide before socially

VII. Female victim works at a donut shop. She’s likable. Cops patronize the shop. Victim is
found dead. During the investigation the same cops find the body but don’t or can’t
identify her.

VIII. Do not rely on any person to kill another. If captured, the killer always talks and you’re screwed. Do not try from jail or prison, to have someone on the outside killed. Fellow inmates are not reliable, and THEY are hearing everything.

IX. Older men/younger women. It is easy to deceive the woman. Inexperience. Guy is no
good if he has no money. He will be insecure and possessive. He will demand she love
him always. Don’t mother him.
The woman usually jumps at the chance for security, and perhaps a kid. But the old man
can’t do everything she wants. That blank in a women’s life, a huge area for mischief
and wrongful acts, usually is.

X. Do not have long term relationships, and not many short term encounters, currently
known as “friends with benefits.” That will become the first social connection the cops
will find and stick to as a motive for murder.

XI. The odors and smells in morgues and around corpses are why deodorants, air fresheners and strong cleaners are used. Those products also cover up animal smells for humans who keep pets. But if there are no pets and the cleaning smells are present, there is likely a dead human nearby.

XII. Parents, especially mothers, should not sleep with their children. The children will never learn independence, self-reliance or gain confidence -physically, psychologically and emotionally. These arrangements may open a road to crime: These children will not grow up to be complete, mature human beings.

XIII. Do not murder someone and a few days later go to the police station wearing the same clothes for an interview about the killing. The cops will notice and arrest you.

XIV. If you have a criminal business that provides you with a decent income, and the cops don’t seem interested in you, don’t commit other crimes like murder, rape, kidnapping or assaultive robbery. You’ll be arrested and the whole enterprise will shut down.

XV. Idiocy in California. Sister and drug-addicted brother live together in city. She is a
graduate student. He gets her started on drugs. With her remaining wits she finds a
boyfriend and plans to move to New York City to live with him. Brother does not like
that; sister goes missing. Thereafter, brother withdraws money from her account and forges her checks to support his drug habit.
Parents call cops. Sister/daughter is missing. Cops have found her car; they do not
process it. They go to daughter’s apartment; brother/son refuses their entry. They leave
and wait.
Family arrives. They cannot find daughter/sister.
They move from the apartment. Cops get a search warrant after brother/son and
family leave, and after new tenants have moved in. Cops find blood; they find blood in
the car. They never find a body.
Drug-addicted brother refuses to talk to cops; they get nothing. Family supports him; they are sure he did not kill his sister.
MORALE: Women are expendable. Having a drug-addicted son is better than a happy
daughter in New York City. Daughter may as well have been born dead.


This politically correct TV production from California, and I suppose Hollywood, is UNREAL. This production is set in Silicon Valley. Everyone in it is of dark complexion but salient places are ignored: An entire continent is missing.
NO ASIANS – the sub-continent Indians, no Vietnamese, no Malaysians, no Thais, no Chinese and no Japanese. As for Europe the characters look like they come from the Mediterranean places. There are no Frogs, no Krauts and no Limeys. No one looks ready to play a a role in Fargo except for the blonde victim. Where are the Ruskies, the easiest characters to write and cast: Thin guy, big eyes always looking at the walls, generally incoherent and absolutely brilliant. And there are no Irish!
There is also a black/white element present in the production. Everyone wears black. The bad guys were Northern European/North American.


Cinderella & Company, by Manuela Hoelterhoff

This excellent book about the inside of the world of opera is amusing, well-written, to the point and short.

Initially, an impression comes to the reader. The book is a story of antedotes – the opera in the 1990s and in the past – but there is more.

A growing realization comes that the author has written the outline for a new opera libretto: Singers of all sexs, shapes and ages are themselves; most have great talent but do not want to sing. Every singer in a libretto based upon this book can sing a few bars from a famous aria and quit, as if to say, “see I know the whole thing.” In the songs of the opera singers sound out their excuses, reasons, or disgust why they will not perform. NOTE: Sets for the new opera cost zero because everything is backstage. It is all in this book including the ending where some singers mature and otherwise grow up, getting over their juvenile, wanton ways in order to return to the silly world of the opera stage. There’s a lot of money at stake.

Read this book to be entertained, or to write a libretto.


by Edwin Lefevre

This book came highly recommended, and for someone intensely interested in financial markets, it has value. It may be an Investment Classic. It is written in textbook fashion, meaning it is poorly written and prolix. It is a blue pencil special.

This reader read 100 pages and stopped. The first problem is the text is a narrative using I: Everything must be explained by I, and neither I nor the author do that. I does not explain well the stock market, stock picking or timing. It seems out of nowhere I is in a brokerage shop or a firm where he buys or sells. I happily tells when he’s made money, based upon what analysis of the market, a stock, conditions or being drunk or using drugs? (e.g. Union Pacific)

This reader tired of reading that I had talked to friends, brokerage people, or there was this stock or that, and all the while this reader knew he was reading too many words. There ought to be one-quarter or one-third fewer words in this book, because there is no explanation of analysis or the market or stocks. This reader did not need to read that many words about I’s social career. Hence, the text should be 200-225 pages instead of 300 pages.


Like everything else on the Internet, this incident has arisen to cartoon character status, because those are the only persons many Americans will believe. The Google Guy was given space on Saturday’s Wall Street Journal op-ed page.

In 1790 in Vienna an honest observer would say Mozart was the most original composer of the times. Franz Joseph Hayden was equally excellent, but in a different way. What about Beethoven? He had arrived and played the piano for Mozart, who unjustly wasn’t impressed. When Mozart heard Beethoven improvise, he said, “The world will hear from this young man.”
Hayden took Beethoven on as a student. The pupil fought with his teacher all the time, but something was conveyed. Fifteen years later during the performance of The Seasons the old man got up to leave. Beethoven was kneeling before him. Embarrassed and overwhelmed, Hayden got Beethoven to stand so he could look at his peer.

In 1793 who would have known the disagreeable student would be the best composer to live, ever. By 1808 Hayden knew it. Beethoven’s collective work shows a steady improvement and use of the imagination. Later pieces are consistently better than the earlier. And who knew after 1808 Beethoven would compose the Fifth Concerto, the Seventh Symphony, Eighth Symphony, sonatas, quartets and when deaf, the Ninth Symphony. He wrote Wellington’s Victory to pay the rent.

I’ve seen the Google Guy interviewed, and who is he? He does not realize there are big grand issues he is not addressing. The issue is, how to prompt an employee’s imagination to do the work presented. The answer is not forthcoming by comparing men to women. To do that one needs gobs of data, personal knowledge and be educated in teaching the disciplines which Google finds important. We’re talking about higher forms of mathematics where 2 + 2 = 5. If a Google employee can teach that, one might be able to evaluate other employees, if there is complete access to academic and psychological reports for each individual.

Remember the Google Guy is looking for distinctions in imaginations. In 1830 Chopin left Poland on his way to Paris. He stopped in Germany to hear Mendelssohn perform. They were both 20 years old. When the music wasn’t very good, Chopin went on his way: “No use meeting Felix.” Mendelssohn had every musical gift Mozart had, but did not know how to use the talents – focus to produce compelling music. Polish speaking Chopin was fleeing a failing revolution at home against the Russian occupier. Chopin’s music is almost always precise, surprising and pleasing.

Somebody who collects gross data off the Internet, and tries to make it comprehensible does not have the facts and figures to conclude anything about anyone. Hence, the Google Guy, likely has a storied career in education, perfect scores on the SAT, and everything else – ornaments for the resume. He also has a list of letters following his name longer than the alphabet, reflecting victories in science and wizardry contests and extending far into his Wazoo. Such credentials are why this guy should not write. There have always been exact answers in his world.

I can tell Google Guy that how he did it is not how writers do it. Sources may be available but what do they indicate? They are not formulas, equations and therms. The studies produced are by researchers seeking answers. Do they ever ask enough questions? Like a political poll the best any one can derive from studies are inclinations and trends. I assume that the A-Hole U which Google Guy attended did not teach him how to research any better than it taught writing and interpretation. Google Guy’s abilities are best left in the imagination, working through math problems, conceptual relationships among sets, numbers and equations and hoping to arrive at a defensible conclusion or a better product. Most human beings and situations are far from those efforts, and being human they don’t always act predictably.

What specifically is not happening at Google? Work is not being done? Someone in management is to blame. Employees need better training. Google is a choice employer. There should be enough scrutiny of new employees so urging them to work is not a problem. They are self-motivating; they have initiative; they use their brains to confront issues before them.

Or does Google hire employees who are not qualified? Are Google employees happy with their performances in academia, and now want to coast during employment? And since this is California, are there substance abuse issues? Perhaps some employees have psychological problems, and a few physical limitations.

What do Beethoven, Hayden and Mozart have to do with Google? I suppose Google hires employees hoping each will contribute often over the long term. Some may be standouts but not fully noticeable today. In a decade how will these people have helped?


In literature this voice is not used often; there are good reasons why. Having “I” tell the story greatly limits the options a writer has available in any writing. The reader and world already know whose point of view is being presented: I, and to be consistent I must fill in all the action and description. A derivation into description present in a third party tale is noticeable and a flaw.

It may seem that dialogue can be accurately reported by using I. Indeed, some of the sentences may have been previously uttered, but there is not enough paper in the world to record every conversation completely. In all literature conversations reported in dialogue are edited and representative. That selection process picks the jewels coming from the human brain through the mouth rather than a jumbo mix of participles, prepositional phrases and adverbs. Someone writing dialogue I, the first person narration needs to tone down and eliminate as many words as possible: First, the words come from I, a person the reader is familiar with. Second, unless the dialogue drives the story forward, it should be dropped. In a first person narration I is the primary mover of the story. If points in dialogue have not been made, they may have already been implied, or they are not important and possibly conflicting. An author cutting his dialogue – this is my styleHORRORS! It is an impossible task.
Writing a novel is the first person narrative and having flashbacks seems an impossibility. I have tried reading such a novel. The author tried to clarify by dating each chapter of the multi-decade story: Chapter 1, Winter 2008; Chapter 2, Autumn, 1982, etc. Embracing I along with keeping track of incidences in I’s life over the decades is more than a reader should endure: Chapter 3, Winter, 1983; Chapter 4, Spring 1984; Chapter 5, Summer 2008.

The author jumped relying on dates and seasons and dialogue from those times, but I wondered, why bother. The author supposedly wanted to tell a first person narrative about a police investigation of a local heroin distribution ring. It seems a timely subject beset by the awkward telling.

So I put the book down. There are others to read, one by Joseph Conrad.