Left Hooks, Right Crosses: A Decade of Political Writing

Overview


Christopher Hitchens, provocateur and contrarian on the Left, makes the news as often as he reports it, and writes about the most controversial news and current events. Christopher Caldwell is a fresh and objective columnist in the opposite camp. Together, they present the best writing from opposite corners of the political ring at the end of the last century. These incisive observers examine each other's choices and discuss in separate introductions just what they think of the picks. "Hitchens has made a career...
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Overview


Christopher Hitchens, provocateur and contrarian on the Left, makes the news as often as he reports it, and writes about the most controversial news and current events. Christopher Caldwell is a fresh and objective columnist in the opposite camp. Together, they present the best writing from opposite corners of the political ring at the end of the last century. These incisive observers examine each other's choices and discuss in separate introductions just what they think of the picks. "Hitchens has made a career of disagreement and dissent, of being a thorn in search of a side."—Publishers Weekly "[Hitchens] is an irritable, irreverent, sarcastic, witty, and intelligent champion of the Left."—Library Journal
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As television has contributed to the decline in the traditional role of political parties, the broadcast media have gained an advantage over print. Politics is now "talking heads" entertainment with questionable standards. This collection, edited by journalists Caldwell (the Weekly Standard and New York Press) and Hitchens (Vanity Fair and the Nation), brings together three dozen reprinted articles (primarily from the Nation, the Progressive, the Weekly Standard, and National Review) by a variety of skillful writers (journalists, novelists, professors, etc.), such as Nat Hentoff, Tony Kushner, Susan Sontag, Benjamin DeMott, Arundhati Roy, Patrick Caddell, Jonathan Schell, Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, Harvey Mansfield, David Brooks, and Jonathan Rauch. The topics, mostly associated with the political wars of the 1990s, are equally diverse, ranging from personalities (Elian Gonzalez, Monica Lewinsky, Dorothy Day, and Bill Clinton) to issues such as impeachment, civil liberties, mass protests, nuclear weapons, Bosnia, feminism, the Bell Curve, and more. Though the writing is high quality, the brief introductions are weak. Supplied with the twist that Caldwell surveys the liberal articles and Hitchens the conservative ones, they fail to explain the purpose of the collection. In a time of tight library budgets, this is an optional purchase.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Kirkus Reviews
A motley collection that illustrates both the obsessions and the daffiness of Right and Left during the '90s. Ubiquitous journalists Hitchens (Why Orwell Matters, p. 1195) and Caldwell (Senior Editor, The Weekly Standard), representing, respectively, the Left and the Right, selected the pieces to represent their own camps, and each wrote the introduction to the other's selections (both are feather-light and forgettable). Not much for surprises here. From the Left come criticisms of our country's support of friendly dictators, of intolerance ("An American society without liberalism," writes Philip Green, "would be a sinkhole of racism, sexism and every form of unabashed bigotry"), of private militias, of child labor, of companies that mistreat workers, of capital punishment. From the Right come attacks on the Clintons and Kennedys (Peter Collier's comments on the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. permit him to scourge the rest of the family, living and otherwise), on Janet Reno (she returned Elian to Communism), on anti-smokers and feminists. Occasionally, there is some overlap. Both sides take on The Bell Curve-Adolph Reed Jr., with skill and erudition; Andrew Sullivan, with surprising and surpassing ignorance. There are also some gems in both segments. On the Left: Susan Sontag's poignant piece about Bosnia (1995); Christopher D. Cook's hard look at "workfare" (1998); Ruth Conniff's discoveries about the feckless "drug war" in Colombia (1992). On the Right: Francis X. Bacon's Shakespearean satire of the Clintons (1994); William Monahan's hilarious rant about the loss of his Right to Smoke (1999); Thomas Fleming's piquant comments on a new edition of Strunk and White (1999). The award for MostParanoid, Racist, and Sexist Piece goes to Kenneth Minogue (2001), who argues that "the radical feminist revolution is nothing less than a destruction of our civilization" and that women and people of color lack the "capacity to innovate." Good bedside reading, with pieces that are short, digestible, and sometimes soporific.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560254096
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Series: Nation Books
  • Pages: 414
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. His numerous books include Letters to a Young Contrarian and Why Orwell Matters.
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Table of Contents

Left Hooks
Introduction 3
Hurt Feelings and Free Speech 9
Colombia's Dirty War, Washington's Dirty Hands 15
A Few Kind Words for Liberalism 33
Me and My Zeitgeist 43
A Socialism of the Skin 52
Looking Backward 63
Martyrs and False Populists 80
Dark Age 88
A Lament for Bosnia 107
Life in Prison; Corrections Cowboys Get a Charge Out of Their New SCI-FI Weaponry 114
Child Labor in the 1990s 128
Seduced by Civility: Political Manners and the Crisis of Democratic Values 132
Unchained Melody 145
Plucking Workers 157
The End of Imagination 165
The Death of Liberal Outrage 180
Sextuple Jeopardy 185
The False Dawn of Civil Society 189
A Review of It Didn't Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States 199
Right Crosses
Introduction 207
from The Tragedy of Macdeth 213
Race and IQ ... are Whites Cleverer Than Blacks? 223
Why My Father Knew 227
The Unflappables 243
The End of the Affair 246
Why a Woman Can't be More Like a Man 253
A Tale of Two Reactions 257
Rich Republicans 270
The Way of Love: Dorothy Day and the American Right 281
What I Saw at the Impeachment 294
The American Inquisition 301
The Real State of the Union 311
Giuseppe Conason's I Disonesti 316
Hey, Kids! Don't Read This! 320
Conservatism at Century's End: A Prospectus 325
A Lovely War: How Clinton & Blair Dream 331
A Kennedy Apart 335
Unmanning Strunk and White: A New Elements of Style 340
A Revolution to Save the World 354
Reading Elian 361
How Civilizations Fall 373
About the Contributors 393
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