Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Matt Suther­land

The re­main­ing few months of 2016 are shap­ing up to be riv­et­ing —all eyes and ears on Trump-clin­ton as they make their fi­nal ap­peals to a po­lar­ized coun­try. We have been warned that this is the most im­por­tant elec­tion in a gen­er­a­tion. Each party leader stresses the cer­tain hell-on-earth con­se­quences should they lose.

And so, seek­ing to play the du­ti­ful role of an in­de­pen­dent-think­ing, in­formed cit­i­zen, I spend an hour on­line ev­ery morn­ing with the Times, Jour­nal, and Post—the pa­pers I trust to pro­vide straight news. As a re­sult, I feel some­what qual­i­fied to spot ab­surd ru­mors and con­spir­a­cies when friends and ac­quain­tances drop them into con­ver­sa­tions. Where’d you hear that bull­shit? I ask, and very quickly an­other bat­tle takes place in The In­for­ma­tion War. They think me naive and bi­ased. I find them dupes for not fact-check­ing their news. We each lose a lit­tle bit of our soul be­cause we can’t make our case ef­fec­tively. Facts. Facts are needed for ra­tio­nal di­a­logue, and it takes some work to find them. News sources on the In­ter­net are like shop­ping in Bei­jing at one of those ten-story mar­kets filled with the au­then­tic, the high-qual­ity knock­offs, and the down­right fake. Let the buyer beware.

I’m not alone in think­ing books are the ul­ti­mate method of com­mu­ni­cat­ing facts, and the hours I spend read­ing are tacit ac­knowl­edg­ment of a de­sire to im­prove my­self. In this chaotic world, books re­quire con­cen­tra­tion. I take im­mea­sur­able plea­sure in hon­ing the in­ner quiet needed for words to re­veal the ideas of a skilled thinker.

And as a reader, I’m se­cretly proud—hey ma, look at me, I’m read­ing a book. No mat­ter my age, that smug sense of sat­is­fac­tion never goes away.

The Car­toon His­tory of Hu­man­ism; Latin In­scrip­tions: An­cient Scripts; Faitho­nomics: Re­li­gion and the Free Mar­ket; Restor­ing Her­itage Grains: The Cul­ture, Bio­di­ver­sity, Re­silience, and Cui­sine of An­cient Grains—that’s the stuff I’m talk­ing about. In this is­sue, you’ll find re­views of those four fact-grounded books and a few dozen more. They will help you state your case in any con­ver­sa­tion this fall.

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