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TAC Bookshelf: Back Again on the Road to Serfdom

George D. O’Neill Jr., chairman, Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy: Socialism has been tried on six continents and in numerous countries, but always with the same failed result. Despite geographic, economic, and other national differences, the experience of socialism follows a consistent trajectory, with its trademark features—poverty, shortages of resources, and repression—always on display.

Senator Rand Paul’s new book, The Case Against Socialism, is a timely response to the misguided enthusiasm for socialism that’s taken hold in the United States. From well-known members of Congress to college students, there is a growing fervor to go down the road that inevitably leads to serfdom. Senator Paul directly refutes the popular argument that socialism’s failures are simply the result of poor execution or improper implementation.

The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history, in large part because of the totalitarian governments committed to socialism.

Paul’s book is concise and informative, carefully researched and easy to read. I recommend it to all who are interested in understanding the popular deceptions that mask the true evils of socialism.

Leonora Cravotta, TAC director of operations: I recently read Chas Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life by Linda H. Davis, a biography of the legendary cartoonist who is best known for The Addams Family, the ghoulish Norman Rockwell antidote that spawned a 1960s television series, two major 1990s motion pictures, a Broadway show, countless merchandise, and yet another reboot with this month’s release of a new 3D animated film.

A Cartoonist’s Life traces Charles Addams’ path from a stable middle-class childhood in Westfield, New Jersey, to the pages of The New Yorker. Addams, whose designs were influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, and Jonathan Swift, had a lifetime fascination with the macabre. Davis provides an intimate portrait of a bon vivant who was married three times to Morticia look-alikes (one wedding ceremony took place in a pet cemetery) and romanced celebrities including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Addams is presented as an exercise in contrast: the charming life of the party who was obsessed with death; the commanding personality who was manipulated by his second wife into signing over to her the licensing rights to his cartoons.

Peppered with illustrations and detailed backstories of Addams’ most celebrated drawings, Davis’s biography is an excellent introduction for readers not familiar with the cartoonist’s full body of work beyond his namesake series. Yet there is still plenty of coverage of the iconic clan, which first debuted in The New Yorker in 1938, but were not even given names until 1963 when Addams was asked to create character descriptions for the television series.

My favorite chapter is “Boiling Oil,” named for the 1946 holiday drawing depicting Morticia, Gomez, and Lurch on the roof of their Victorian home tilting a boiling caldron toward the unsuspecting Christmas carolers below. The famous drawing, which was also depicted in the opening credits of the 1991 film, is the quintessential representation of Addams’ satire, the dark fantasy. Yet the hot potion never leaves the cauldron. We smile because we have all experienced that moment where we want those shiny, happy people to just disappear. The ability to draw in black and white the words we dare not say, that’s the legacy of Charles Addams.

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