Ben Bernanke, the Grown-Up in the Room

Ben Bernanke’s new memoir, The Courage to Act, is neither easy nor scintillating reading. But clunky and dry as it is, the 600-page tome serves as a provocative reminder that not all high officials in our largely dysfunctional government are motivated by partisanship or the desire to protect bureaucratic turf. It offers proof that Bernanke and the Fed were the grown-ups in the room during a period of crises unprecedented since the Great Depression, regardless of whether you believe they have conducted themselves brilliantly or poorly.

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Book Review: "A World Without Islam"

One of the sadder consequences of the near decade of war and violence that has followed the attacks of 9/11 is that so many people are convinced that we are in a clash of civilizations divided along religious fault lines. The rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in Europe and the continued attraction of radical antinomian Islam in parts of the Muslim world attest to this situation.

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LA TIMES BOOK REVIEW: SUPERFUSION BY ZACHARY KARABELL

In February, when President Obama signed a $787-billion stimulus bill, there was little question where the money would come from. The U.S. Treasury would print up bonds, and the Chinese government would buy a large share of them. After all, if the U.S. economy was to ever really tank, China's $1-trillion investment in U.S. debt would tank too. And who then would be left to buy a third of China's exports?

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Means of Ascent

Some presidents shape their times more than others. The 1830s are known as the Age of Jackson, but few people think of the 1920s as the Age of Harding. The 1960s and 1970s were too dynamic and cacophonous to be defined by any one person, but Lance Morrow suggests that they were marked by three men who occupied the Oval Office during these years: John F. Kennedy, whose sudden death transformed him into an icon of progress and optimism; Lyndon B. Johnson, who managed to represent both the best of us with his commitment to civil rights and the worst of us with his mismanagement of the war in Vietnam; and Richard M. Nixon, whose fateful involvement with the Watergate break-in ended the proverbial innocence of America.

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