Nataly Buhr is an award winning author with a master's degree in political science. A professor at the University of Michigan, she has written over twenty five books, many of which were critically acclaimed. Her writing is sophisticated and combative, often using sarcasm to attack her audience. Buhr frequently reminds her readers that politics is a dog eat dog world where interests are the only ones worth pursuing. The fact that she chooses to write about such a sordid subject with an edge is a tribute to her intelligence and refusal to accept the status of an underdog.
In Remember the Monkey, Buhr makes a powerful case for why we should never forget how important leaders and nations are to the global community. The history of the human species is intertwined through the pages of this engaging book. Buhr relates the story of monkey politics through the Ages to illuminate current debates on economic competitiveness and peace. Following an episode from her past, where she nearly lost her life to a mugger, Buhr insists that everyone should have some immunity against the dark forces that lurk in the streets of our towns and cities.
In Once Dead, Twice Shy, Buhr takes her argument to the psychological realm. After a series of unfortunate events nearly kills her husband, Nataly finds herself afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder. The book describes the symptoms and causes of PTSD as well as offering some insights into the ways in which political incorrectness perpetuates itself. The premise is that war may be the symptom of a dysfunctional society, where wrong doings go unpunished and those who profit from war and violence are shielded from accountability. Returning again to the theme of accountability, Buhr suggests that we must reject the comforting myths of our leaders that we can do nothing to prevent ourselves from becoming collateral for their power play.
Buhr's observations about the media, the entertainment industry, and our own government to underline the importance of resisting knee jerk reactions to dangerous situations. While she is critical of some of our public figures, she highlights the remarkable example of Nelson Rockefeller, whose wealth insulated him from the destruction of his life due to an automobile accident. Buhr also critiques the sensationalist tendencies of popular media and the way in which certain stories are manipulated and spun to satisfy ratings and sponsors. It is these very same distortions that allow for the sensationalist tendencies to thrive.
Nataly Buhr is a brilliant essayist. Her writing is often reflective and philosophical and her insights are often profound and trenchant. However, some of her themes–the triumph of hope over despair, for example–are too simplistic and her arguments can appear to lack depth. Still, Buhr's work always leaves you with a question in mind. Will humanity aspire to greatness, or will it succumb to hubristic tendencies?
Buhr is right about one thing, and that is that we need more than idealism to move our society forward. Her . . . . . . book does not preach optimism or pessimism but instead illuminates the possibility of greatness when facing a dark cloud overhead. At the end of the day, each of us has the power to choose our path in life. With the darkness as a guide, we can make a better choice tomorrow.