The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan

I find Amazon reviews helpful in purchasing books. In the case of The Devil’s Chess Board, Amazon reviews, especially the few two and three star ones, were particularly informative. To cite a few excerpts from these reviews…

“Count Talbot among the lists of conspiracy theorists”
“Talbot is as manipulative as he claims Dulles is”
“Too much editorializing and use of malicious adjectives”
“Hardly a neutral perspective”
“Flights of literary embellishments”
“Authors agenda was far too blatant”

Given the fact that the author was founder of Salon and received laudatory reviews of his work by the mainstream media, this buyer was forewarned before plowing through this doorstop size book.

I could cite plenty of the author’s words to affirm the opinion’s of the negative reviews: one example makes my point; characterizing Dulles as having the “knife-cold psyche of a murderer.” Some of the more egregious parts, in my opinion, were in… Continue reading


If readers of the character building project are serious about exploring an excellent answer to this question, I heartily suggest reading the above-cited article from Big Questions online.

If you do not have the time read the article, the quote below will offer “cliff notes.”

Some people believe that nature makes people good, others say that it is habit, and still others say that it is teaching. Experience shows that logical arguments and teaching are not effective in most cases. The soul of the student must first have been conditioned by good habits just as land must be cultivated to nurture seed…. Aristotle

I intend to further investigate the source, namely the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focusing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. It promotes a moral concept… Continue reading


The following quote from Epictetus, Enchiridion show us the theme of acceptance and when one has a belief in a higher power, then there is no such thing as an event going contrary to plan…Thy Will be done.

Lead on God and Destiny

To that God fixed for me long ago

I will follow and not stumble; even if my will

is weak I will soldier on.

I am trying to keep this maxim in mind when balancing the definition of insanity  (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) versus the virtue of perseverance. Notwithstanding, my efforts and the results of my latest book (Restoring Character in America,) I am learning to accept this event was willed to happen.


My last three posts: I Cannot Live Without Books, Does Our Nation Still Have An Appetite For Great Books, And Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Culture’s Go To Go are less about my own reading addiction and more about preparing the next generation of informed citizens. Whether all of us are fit to govern, all of us must be prepared to be making informed judgments about whom “we the people” delegate the daily business of governing.

The next generation of informed citizen might consider accepting one of two challenges. First, we can take a cue from Charles Eliot’s “five feet” of books. That is set aside sixty inches of shelves to build a list that would be limited to about sixty books. It would be fun to learn from readers as to what books they would choose to be on their personal shelves.

Second readers might consider accepting the “Century… Continue reading


National leaders other than Charles Eliot have attempted to revive a set of great books that Americans share in common. Most notably, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1945, and Mortimer Adler, philosopher and popular author, worried that business people were becoming to specialized in their crafts and that they were decreasingly well educated.

So they set out to develop a set of evening classes for adults with the aim of helping thoughtful Americans who wished to fill the gaps in their education with critical reading of important books.

One of their students was an executive at Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. who recognized a business opportunity. He commissioned Hutchins and Adler to identify the most important writings of Western Civilization. The project took eight years and cost Encyclopedia Britannica $2 million, culminating in 1952 with A Syntopicon, a two-volume index of thirty-page articles on… Continue reading

Just Released!

Restoring Character in AmericaRestoring Character in America identifies the decline in character in our country, but then gives the reader hope for the future by showcasing leaders whose careers are successfully turning around this trend in our schools, communities, businesses, and the military.

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For the Visually Impaired

Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.