High Noon for America

Jamie Glazov’s previous book, Showdown with Evil, was a collection of interviews he’d conducted over the years with resonant figures in the political world and authors of international standing. Glazov has now followed suit with High Noon for America: The Coming Showdown, a collection of symposia, dating from 2008 to 2011, which he hosted and then compiled. These consist in the main of erudite and compelling discussions treating of the major issues of the day: the threat of radical Islam (a blatant pleonasm), Communism and the heritage Left, the waning of American power and influence, and the gradual but accelerating atrophy of the Judeo-Christian faith community which formed the bedrock of Western civilization.

High Noon is a compendium that deals with “the really big ideas,” as Daniel Greenfield writes in his review of the book, which are in effect “too big for answers, only for observations.” Big ideas, we might add, do not typically beget small responses or narrow perspectives—except, of course, from the terminally deficient—and the vistas these symposia open on the history of political thought and practice encompass horizons of provocative reflection. They traverse the contemporary via dolorosa from the misnamed “Arab Spring” (“really,” Glazov says, “just an Islamic supremacist Winter”), to the resurgence of “the Evil Empire” controlled by KGB thug Vladimir Putin, to the tragedy of the politically correct, self-constraining, defeatist culture of the West that refuses to even name the enemy that plots its destruction, to the demonic nature of the ideological Left making common cause with a ruthless and dedicated adversary, to questions of economic independence and spiritual authenticity.

Some of the symposia are retrospective, examining the forces that have driven the events we are now experiencing ("The Red Arabs"; "The Shadow of the KGB"). Others are almost uncannily prospective, if not prophetic, as, for example, the discussion on "The Mismanaged War Against Libya," in which the participants point out that the aftermath of the revolution may eventually prompt us to regard the murdered Gaddafi with nostalgia. Recent events in Benghazi confirm their prescience.

The volume, then, is distinguished not only by its archival substance and empirical wisdom (a synonym for clear-sightedness and common sense), but by the impressive variety of its subjects, arguments, insights, and sources of authority. Naturally, given the diversity of the dramatis personae and the fact that these installments are essentially conversations, there will be some unevenness in quality, tone, and rhetorical elegance, and several tend to range beyond the titular subject of the book, but the level of debate and reasoned formulation remains consistently arresting. And a number of the symposia are virtual knockouts, theatrical-like performances that merit extension, as I imagine, into the genre of the “philosophical film,” like "My Dinner with Andre," "The Quarrel," and "Mind Walk." This, to my mind, constitutes the book’s peculiar and distinctive strength. The symposia that fit into this category each generate a kind of storyline and create a sense of intellectual tension, modulated in talk, that render the comparison apt.