Bill Steigerwald

"Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution -- and What It Means for Americans Today" (Crown Forum) does to Alexander Hamilton what its iconoclastic author Thomas J. DiLorenzo did previously to Abe Lincoln in his "The Real Lincoln": It throws sharp libertarian rocks at Hamilton's shining reputation. DiLorenzo argues that Hamilton, the country's first treasury secretary, was -- like his soulmate Lincoln -- a huge fan of big government who helped create a country that Jefferson and other Founders would not only not recognize, but hate and fear. Hamilton's legacy, as carried on by his political heirs, includes a weakened Constitution; a bloated, centralized, interventionist federal government (at home and abroad); an imperial presidency and a government system built on graft, spoils and patronage. No wonder Congressman Ron Paul recommends the book "to my fellow Jeffersonians."

"Greener Than Thou: Are You Really an Environmentalist?" by Terry L. Anderson and Laura E. Huggins (Hoover Institution Press) Anderson, the godfather of free-market environmentalism, and Huggins are proponents of using market principles and economic incentives instead of government regulations to protect the environment, improve air and water quality and manage public and private land. Their book quickly and clearly explains how by giving well-defined property rights to natural resources -- land, water, flora and fauna -- the public ultimately benefits because the owners of the resources will use them wisely and conserve them when their own wealth is at stake. Using the truism "No one washes a rented car," Anderson and Huggins make the link between property rights and the responsible care of the environment -- which they say we should see not as a problem for society to fix with rules and regulations but as an asset that can be improved and protected by capitalism and markets.

"New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America" (Simon & Schuster) is Burton Folsom's contribution to the now-popular but long-overdue demythologizing of the New Deal. Liberals, schoolchildren and anyone yet to read Amity Shlaes' "The Forgotten Man" still believe FDR's policies saved us from the Great Depression -- and that we need more FDR-like solutions today. But Folsom shows that it was foolish or harmful government interventions, not private enterprise, that brought us the Great Depression, prolonged it until World War II and left us with a crippling legacy of high taxes, unnecessary regulations and fiscal time bombs like Social Security. Plugging the book, The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore says the New Deal's agenda "caused more human suffering and deprivation in America than any other set of ideas in the twentieth century."


Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..