Leveling Wind: Politics, the Culture and Other News

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This volume, the fifth collection of George F. Will's essays on America's political tumults and cultural controversies, makes clear that he deserves to be ranked in the American tradition of high journalism, a tradition that extends back through Walter Lippmann and H. L. Mencken to Edwin Lawrence Godkin. With wit, erudition, and craftsmanship that readers of 480 newspapers and Newsweek have enjoyed for twenty years, Will assesses the triumphs, misadventures, and foibles of the past four years. During this period ...
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Overview

This volume, the fifth collection of George F. Will's essays on America's political tumults and cultural controversies, makes clear that he deserves to be ranked in the American tradition of high journalism, a tradition that extends back through Walter Lippmann and H. L. Mencken to Edwin Lawrence Godkin. With wit, erudition, and craftsmanship that readers of 480 newspapers and Newsweek have enjoyed for twenty years, Will assesses the triumphs, misadventures, and foibles of the past four years. During this period George Bush's presidency, filled with "verbal fender-benders" and policy disappointments, paved the way for the ebullient Bill Clinton, that enthusiast of government of whom Will says, "American government is failing at such fundamental tasks as providing streets free of gunfire and schools with high standards, and yet at this moment, when government's reputation is deservedly rotten, Clinton says that it is competent to plan the future." Many of the institutions that should sustain our fraying society, says Will, have been populated by men and women like the Clintons who came of age in the 1960s, a decade that gave legitimacy to a "perverse premise - that the social order is an infringement on freedom rather than freedom's foundation." "The idea is abroad," writes Will, "that there is no moral heritage worth 'imposing' on children, respect for whom requires that their 'values' be regarded as a matter of taste." We are, Will observes, increasingly unable to talk about race, or equality, or art, or literature without using these subjects as "a mere index of who has power and whom the powerful victimize." Of today's confused political goals and public ideals, Will says, "The age that pushes hard against [us] is not something that has just befallen us. We made it; are making it. Much of it comes from the top down, a trickle-down culture that begins with the idea that the good life consists of satisfying every impulse. Many intellectuals have helped supplan

After 20 years of columns in The Washington Post, Newsweek, and nearly 500 newspapers across the country, George F. Will has developed a devoted and discriminating audience. In his fifth collection of the best columns from the last four years, Will confirms his place as the pre-eminent commentator on the politics and culture of American life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Introducing his fifth collection of columns (these from the last four years), syndicated columnist Will (Men at Work) observes that ``[t]he culture is news.'' When writing about books like Katie Roiphe's The Morning After and Shelby Steele's The Content of Our Character, Will tends to extract what buttresses his conservative views without challenging the books' shortcomings. Yet Will is always lucid, more erudite than many of his pundit peers and not always a Republican cheerleader. He nearly gagged at the 1992 Republican National Convention. And while Will scores popular culture and dysfunctional families for the nation's crime scourge, he acknowledges the importance of gun control and drug treatment. Many of his political views, on such subjects as redistricting to achieve minority representation, are predictable; his more interesting work is grounded in his recognition that a careerist Congress and a media-obsessed presidency are not what the Founders intended. Will's best columns surprise, as when he leaves his armchair to visit a Chicago housing project, or when he suggests we place cultural heroes, not politicians, on our currency, la Europe. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Syndicated columnist, broadcaster, and Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary in 1978, Will is generally regarded as the most erudite spokesman for conservative politics. Here he proves again that political labels are often misleading. In his fifth collection of columns, Will suffers fools badly. He writes of the "emptiness of Bush's politics." Clinton's presidency, he writes, "has become a seamless extension of campaigning, at a cost to the deliberative processes of government." Ross Perot "is a blank book that Americans are judging by its cover." And "government," he contends, "is often imbecilic." There may be no finer writer in the field. Will is at the same time serious and witty, stretching political commentary beyond its normal boundaries. Recommended for all collections.-Chet Hagan, Berks Cty. P.L. Sys., Pa.
Booknews
For twenty years, Will's politically conservative columns have appeared in major newspapers all over the country. This collection of his columns, drawn from the past four years, presents his opinions on subjects much beloved to the political Right, from the bete-noir of political correctness to such apparently vapid concepts as self-esteem. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Ray Olson
Will may be the best-sounding American political pundit. To prove the point, read him aloud. You can't help putting a tone to every one of his sentences--ironic, earnest, rueful, fervid, and so forth--but a tone that alters pitch and timbre. If you do this exercise with this volume, try its two longer, keynote pieces, a speech on the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and another on how the U.S. got from Jeffersonian yeoman-farmer democracy to Ronald Reagan. Both pieces voice bedrock American conservatism about as intelligently, succinctly, and humanely as anyone could wish. They also, like one after another of the shorter pieces--Will's columns for the "Washington Post" and "Newsweek"--tell us things we may have forgotten, such as, in the Reagan speech, that Republicans created big federal government during and after the Civil War, handing it over to Wilsonian Democrats just in time for the income tax's adoption in 1913. In the reprinted columns, Will also often provides estimable reader's advisory service by reporting on his own wide-ranging reading, or he offers fresh insights into public figures both current and historic, or he charms us with a day at the beach with a toddler--his youngest son.
From Barnes & Noble
Fifth collection of essays by the syndicated columnist on the tumults & controversies of our times, from Our Expanding Menu of Rights & the Clintons' Lethal Paternalism to Sexual Harassment in Kindergarten.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670860210
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/9/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.78 (d)

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