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Having taken on backroom national politics and foolish foreign policy, we don’t neglect old-time religion. In her review of books on, respectively, voudou and fundamentalism, Elisabeth Piedmont-Marton manages to suggest thoughtful connections between downhome spiritual traditions that more usually maintain a wary and not always respectful distance. American Voudou, we should note, was written by a distinguished former Observer editor, Rod Davis. And Ann Rowe Seaman, the biographer of Swaggart, is also a sometime Austinite. \(That fact may at least suggest that the state capital is not entirely, as some would like to maintain, a Another Observer contributor, Bill Adler, passes by in honor, as the author of Mollie’s Job, one of the the current crop of books on NAFTA and its aftermath. We excerpted Mollie’s Job earlier in the year, but , wanted to give a fuller sense of the range and vitality of Adler’s achievement. James Sledd, who .last issue delivered an insightful commentary upon the life of Michael Harrington, returns here with a reflective essay on “Ebonies,” a linguistic invention that .has a good deal to say about the continuing Michael Krone racial divisions of our persistently colorstruck nation. Readers of Texas detective fiction will have noticed a regional cottage industry beginning to collect around San Clay Reynolds takes a close look at the latest hometown thriller from novelist Jim Sanderson. And there’s more: James Hoggard on William Harrison, Bill Adler on Cuban baseball, George Reiter on technological arrogance, and a “Back Page” romance that involves a certain former President in the role of Hunk of Burnin’ Love. In her Afterword, poet and teacher Jenny Browne recreates the art of bringing the language of poetry to the elementary school classroom, in this instance to children for whom English may still be both a fearful and magical endeavor. As always, poetry editor Naomi Shihab Nye has chosen a special Books Issue offering by Fran Hillyer and Daniel Durham. Finally, as an unexpected and delightful bonus, El Paso writer Elroy Bode returns to the Observer with a group of “Summer Sketches,” remarkable examples of the brief, lyrical meditation that he has made his signature form. In, combination with the photographs of Alan Pogue and the design by Julia Austin, Bode’s sketches provide a philosophical oasis in the long Texas summer. nevitably, summer and winter, more / than a few books we’d like to read and review still get away from us. One additional volume we’d like to call attention to just now is Frances FitzGerald’s extraordinary Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War. A comprehensive history of Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, Way Out There is more broadly a fascinating study of U.S. defense politics over the last two decades, as seen through the truth-revealing prism of the space weapons program \(of many incarnaFitzGerald meticulously documents, Reagan’s Folly is an enormously expensive, military-toy fantasy with little or no relation to practical weaponry, borne of paranoid politics compounded by bad science, and nursed by defense contractor greed. It violates our current treaty obligations, and rather than make the nation safer, it will create both greater risk of catastrophic accident and an incentive for pre-emptive enemy attack. Yet despite all this having survived endless practical failures throughout the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations it will probably be built in some form, as a permanent monument to imperial military waste and bi-partisan political stupidity. On July 8, a few days before this issue went to press, the Pentagon announced that yet another test of its anti-missile system had failed \(as most have done, for a system that very difficult, challenging job,” explained Lieutenant General Ronald T. Kadish. “This is rocket science.” On page 494 of Way Out There, Fitzgerald recounts that in the spring of 1997, Lieutenant General Lester Lyle was trying to explain to Congress why that season’s particular incarnation of Pentagon antiits tests. “This is really rocket science,” said Lyle. Yup, they really say this stuff. Asked for a response to the most recent failed test, Vice President Al Gore said he would wait for further information. Governor George W. Bush announced, “I remain confident that given the right leadership, America can develop an effective missile defense system…. Development of a missile defense system will be a priority in my administration.” As Yogi used to say, it’s dj vu all over again. M.K. 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 21, 2000