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Conservative Bestsellers And Liberal Bestsellers
April 14, 2004 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Forget Fiction And Non-Fiction, Bud: Is The Book Liberal Or Conservative? The National Review's bestseller list (scroll down and click) is starkly divided into "Conservative Bestsellers" and "Liberal Bestsellers". Is this a quirky innovation and deliberate provocation or just plain stupid and sad? Does such a dichotomy in fact exist? How would the literature of the world fit into such a classification? (This isn't the end of the world as we know it, is it?)
posted by MiguelCardoso (50 comments total)

 
Miguel, have you been sleeping under a rock?

There's a whole site dedicated to it:


posted by mathowie at 5:30 PM on April 14, 2004


It's funny that Richard Clarke's book is listed as Liberal, if he's really a registered republican that voted for Bush.
posted by mathowie at 5:32 PM on April 14, 2004


Is MiguelCardoso only asking a rhetorical question? Does MiguelCardoso clearly have his own liberal bias, since he ignores a similar site hosted by The Nation? Is MiguelCardoso really interested in honest discussion, or just more Bush-bashing?
posted by mrmanley at 5:35 PM on April 14, 2004


I think Paul O'Neill would be surprised to be called a liberal, after being appointed by George W. Bush.
posted by inksyndicate at 5:38 PM on April 14, 2004


(This isn't the end of the world as we know it, is it?)

Yes, but I, for one, feel fine.
posted by jonmc at 5:38 PM on April 14, 2004


Wow, mathowie - consider me a know-nothing liberal!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:50 PM on April 14, 2004


It's funny that Richard Clarke's book is listed as Liberal, if he's really a registered republican that voted for Bush.

A more accurate categorization would seem to be "critical of the administration" vs. "praising of the administration."
posted by rafter at 5:54 PM on April 14, 2004


Forget whether the book is well-written, based on real facts or the made-up kind, whether argument or polemic--the important thing is, how do we label it? Conservative (Yay!) or Liberal (boo!)?
It might be more interesting to find out how many of these authors achieved prominence with a large boost from sugar-daddy foundations underwritten by conservatives.
The rapid rise of far-right think tanks has been financed by wealthy conservative businessmen. Five donors especially stand out: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Koch Family foundations, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Scaife Family foundations and the Adolph Coors Foundation. . . . The amount of money they give to funding and promoting think tanks and other conservative academic endeavors is nothing short of astounding. In 1988, the Olin Foundation alone distributed $55 million in grants. The Scaife family has donated more than $200 million over the years. Million dollar annual grants to individual think tanks are routine. . . .

The foundations are also active in trying to turn back liberalism in academia, donating tens of millions to promote conservative programs in the nation's most elite universities. In fact, Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, is heavily promoted by the Bradley Foundation, which has installed him as a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks to the foundation's support, Murray and Herrnstein were able to bypass the usual process of academic peer review and deliver The Bell Curve directly to the American public in a splendidly organized and financed media campaign. This included a Newsweek cover story that called the science behind the book "overwhelmingly mainstream." The next year, the National Academy of Sciences denounced the scientific basis of The Bell Curve as "fraudulent."

(From the late Steve Kangas, whose suicide seems to be the stuff of which conspiracy theories are made . . . )
posted by palancik at 5:58 PM on April 14, 2004


Concidering the fiscally conservative and responsable underpinnings of the work, how in the name of Sweet Fanny Adams can Perfectly Legal be concidered a liberal book?

Rafter is dead on the money, in my opinion.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:04 PM on April 14, 2004


Just curious to the libs out there, from a rock-ribbed rightie:

Do you consider this book to be conservative? How about this one? Or this one? Or this one?

Whether fiction or non-fiction, a writer has to have a point of view. But having a point of view which you express in an interesting way is a different thing than simply bloviating. Most of the insta-books currently being cranked out by the pundits (of both Right and Left) are pure crap and are not worth the paper they're printed on. We seem to have given up on actual argument in the classical sense and have simply reverted to shouting our opinions at each other in ever-more-shrill tones.

I think what I like most about the books I have listed here is that they're about something. They don't try to persuade, but rather to explain, which is an altogether different thing. I'll keep my own counsel as to the merits of a given argument or position; if your argument can't stand on its merits, simply saying it LOUDER is a guaranteed way to lose my interest.
posted by mrmanley at 6:14 PM on April 14, 2004


Conservative Fiction - the books they didn't burn.
posted by iamck at 6:22 PM on April 14, 2004


It's funny that Richard Clarke's book is listed as Liberal, if he's really a registered republican that voted for Bush.
posted by mathowie at 5:32 PM PST on April 14


Clarke voted for John McCain in the primary, and Al Gore in the 2000 election.

MR. RUSSERT: And we're back. Did you vote for George Bush in 2000?

MR. CLARKE: No, I did not.

MR. RUSSERT: You voted for Al Gore.

MR. CLARKE: Yes, I did.
posted by the fire you left me at 6:23 PM on April 14, 2004


mrmanley--it's funny, because (before seeing the actual books listed) I asked myself "hmm, is Catcher in the Rye a conservative or liberal book." I think you're pretty much right, but the shrill books you refer to are not so much to shout opinions at the other side as to whip up one's own side. IMO. I mean, Bill O'Reilly isn't writing for a liberal audience; Al O'Franken isn't writing for a conservative one.

That said, Carnage & Culture strikes me as the kind of book that the right wing would readily latch onto. Republicans like to quote de Toqueville (though maybe not so much anymore him being French and all), though I don't know if that makes him conservative. Brave New World? Doesn't fit on our political map.
posted by adamrice at 6:31 PM on April 14, 2004


Do you consider this book to be conservative? How about this one? Or this one? Or this one?

You think Starship Troopers is a novel of ideas ?

oh.my.God.
posted by y2karl at 6:35 PM on April 14, 2004


The Greatest Political Book Of All Time by America's Greatest Social Critic and it's neither liberal nor conservative.
posted by jonmc at 6:36 PM on April 14, 2004


adamrice:

The reason I included "Brave New World" is that I consider it a profoundly conservative work, in the sense that Huxley is saying something about the nature of individual freedom versus a more nebulous societal "liberalism".

And just out of curiosity, why would you consider C&C a book that conservatives would "readily latch on to"? Is this an implication that Liberals would not latch on to it? If not, why not? Is military history and philosophy simply more of a politically-conservative field?
posted by mrmanley at 6:36 PM on April 14, 2004


mrmanley: Most of the insta-books currently being cranked out by the pundits (of both Right and Left) are pure crap and are not worth the paper they're printed on.

My goodness. We agree.

I have a hard time taking most of these books seriously given how they always appear to be sandwitched between the latest low-carb diet cookbook and the honest and true confessions of a middle-aged woman confessing her sexual adventures. Leafing through them, I find that 200 pages does not do much more than a 5-page essay.

And yes, I'm probably one of the few hard lefties who actually pick up both The Nation and New Republic on a regular basis. I'll even slum and leaf through Conservative Chronicle and Limbaugh Letter although I usually need to use some mental floss aftewards.

But I'm worried that we are rapidly becoming a country where we can't disagree with each other.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:38 PM on April 14, 2004


y2carl:

Starship Troopers is more insidious than you think (just like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress). It has a lot of interesting stuff to say about race, class, and politics if you read it a certain way. The book is actually far more serious than the movie; the movie should be considered satire, whereas the book is pretty serious (although Heinlein was writing a novel, not a political tract).
posted by mrmanley at 6:41 PM on April 14, 2004


y2karl: Not trying to be snarky at all, I assure you, but may I ask if you have read Starship Troopers or only seen the film? I'm sure you can guess (my handle for one) why I feel the need to defend Heinlein. I don't agree with much of the social theory he espouses, as it is mostly communist scare conservatism whilst I am firmly liberal, but I think it's a shame to say that Starship Troopers was not a novel of ideas. Military indoctrination, just to name one.

Maybe I should just say, could you please clarify your comment?
posted by lazaruslong at 6:42 PM on April 14, 2004


>Does such a dichotomy in fact exist?

Sure. Give them time and they will tattoo non-Christians on their foreheads so they keep keep an eye on us. Or perhaps we'll have to declare what party we're affliated with when we apply for jobs, cross states lines, etc.

Sure, its a bit over the top but they declared the culture war on us and this is where culture war "thinking" leads to. Its scary to think where it would lead, I mean other than the current Bush administration.

> since he ignores a similar site hosted by The Nation?

Funny use of the word 'similar' there. I see one column, not two. Quit being a Bush apologist manley, the nation site is just a way for them to pimp books not to show you who them nasty liburls is like the NR site. This whole 'but, but the left is doing it too" is bullshit and your example is patheticly self-delusional. Man, I feel sorry for you.
posted by skallas at 6:49 PM on April 14, 2004


Miguel: of course the dichotomy does exists, but only in the world of Marketing. Labeling the books as Liberal or as Conservative is a very very effective way to attract interest there days and marketers probably spotted the trend.

But in the world of politics, I guess, such a clear cut distinction isn't realistic , as there are bipartisan interest and objectives that must be accomplish, regardless of labels.

I guess that as long as Liberal Vs Conservative ( Like Madzinga Vs Godzilla) is considered as a catch phrase, you'll see many more books characterized as Lib or Cons.

On the bright side I guess that books that are sold with that marketing tricks isn't literature, or is worthless stuff you find at supermarkets. The problem is , can the people tell market crap from brilliant stuff ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:53 PM on April 14, 2004


Sure, its a bit over the top but they declared the culture war on us and this is where culture war "thinking" leads to.

But aren't you buying into the concept by using words like "us" and "them."?

Despite what the punditocracy, would have you believe, there's a huge mass of people who are neither far right nor far left, but middle-of-the-road or conservative on some issues liberal on others. Of course all these small subgroups can get culture war-like in their thinking, too, with the end result being that instead of being polarized, we'll be Balkanized.
posted by jonmc at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2004


jonmc, that's part of my point. By declaring this damn cultural war, one is almost forced to take sides. So you think abortion should be legal? Guess what? You're a liberal. Its that simple to these people. You don't agree with the GOP party line. You're a liberal.

No one cares how middle of the road you are, they have their little acid tests. This liberal vs. conservative book list is an expression of this mentality.

Ignore the pundits all you want, I know I like to, but when I see legislation passed that attacks the my rights and the rights of my friends and family then its a whole different ballgame.
posted by skallas at 7:01 PM on April 14, 2004


Which, btw, preemptive complaints of bush-bashing seem to be one of the rhetorical "gotchas" that most annoy me lately.

jonmc: Despite what the punditocracy, would have you believe, there's a huge mass of people who are neither far right nor far left, but middle-of-the-road or conservative on some issues liberal on others. Of course all these small subgroups can get culture war-like in their thinking, too, with the end result being that instead of being polarized, we'll be Balkanized.

Well, it's not even that. I can sit down and have a civil conversation with my right-wing relatives. We can talk about politics. We can in the end, disagree about important issues, and still understand that we are both driven by a deep love for community, and concern for the future. We may have different ideals for how things could be better, but we can agree to disagree but still be family.

Even most of those who hold extreme political views are not assholes. But for some reason, the political system and the media have found that assholes sell more books, win more elections, and sell more advertising than polite discourse and debate.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:06 PM on April 14, 2004


skallas:

You're an ass. You are doing the very same thing you accuse others of doing: by defining yourself as part of one group and excluding me from it, you make me the enemy without even understanding what my position is. That makes you a fool.

Would it surprise you to find that I am in favor of gay marriage? That I think the so-called "drug war" is an abject waste of manpower and money? That I am both an atheist and rationalist? That I hold a degree in English Literature but make my living as a software engineer?

I would think that creds like that would put me into the "liberal" camp, but my support for the war against Islamofascism and my conservative fiscal views exclude me (according to some, anyway). So, Skallas, who is more at fault for fomenting this "culture war"? You excluded me before I even asked to be admitted.
posted by mrmanley at 7:07 PM on April 14, 2004


mrmanley: You're an ass.

Thanks, but I fail to see how the Nation's book page is comparable to the National Reviews Liberal vs Conservative division.

>That I hold a degree in English Literature

Funny, your reading skills are pretty poor. Again, explain to me how the nation page is the same as the NR page.

mrmanley: So, Skallas, who is more at fault for fomenting this "culture war"?

Gee, I don't know, perhaps the Islamofascism Christofasicists in office, the Religious Right, and the knee-jerk GOP voters who really wouldn't mind a little theocracy right here at home.

Again, manley, why are you playing this ridiculous 'LOOK THE NATION IS SELLING BOOKS TOO! THEY ARE ALL THE SAME" bullshit? Give it up, you're embarassing and you've bogarted this thread long enough, buddy. Lets see five comments already and accusing Migeul of "bush-bashing" because, as you claim, THE NATION IS DOING IT TO. Which they aren't.

Why just don't you admit the NR people are the one's reinforcing the line between "liberals" and "conservatives" and that the nation's book site has nothing to do with this? Come on, you can't be that dense or that much of a Bush cheerleader.
posted by skallas at 7:22 PM on April 14, 2004


mrmanley, believe me, there's plenty of left-wing blow-hards who aren't helping either. Or more accurately, the far left plays right into the far rights hands half the time, until just about everybody's ready to throw up their hands and give up.

Quite frankly, I think that it's gonna be the more traditional small gov't/borderline libertarian conservatives who are going to unseat Bush, since Bush has used the legitamite issue of terrorism as cover for an extremist social agenda and a personal grudge match instead of going after the real perpetrators. The aforementioned conservatives are starting to see through him and the lberals (both moderate and far left) never liked him anyway. So mark my words, that's what'll make him lose in November. Overheated rhetoric from the left would be the worst thing right now, because it will provide fuel for his fire.
posted by jonmc at 7:22 PM on April 14, 2004


Personally, I prefer to err on the side of caution and simplcitiy. The NR probably has those little two columns so their stupid readers don't get confused when ordering from Amazon.

"Hey Honey, is Against All Enemies a pro-Bush neocon screed or not? It sounds patriotic, but I'm not sure."
posted by skallas at 7:25 PM on April 14, 2004


Miguel points out something really frightening readers don't choose books to reinforce their prejudices and give them talking points. Good readers choice books to challenge their world-views and inform them about the world around them.

I am little dubious about the NR methodology. All my liberal (and conservative) friends choose much more interesting reading material.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2004


jonmc:

I don't want to derail this thread, because I find it interesting (Skallas' jackassery notwithstanding). It's clear enough that the hit-pieces clogging the bookshelves at the local Barnes and Noble aren't worth our attention (and I mean the stuff not only by the likes of Coulter and O'Reilly, but also Michael Moore and Jonathan Alterman). But what kind of literature do we go to, regardless of our political leanings? Assuming that we read not just for entertainment but also to understand, how can we judge?

I am an amateur military historian, and I find much value in books like Donald Kagan's The Peloponnesian War and Xenophon's Anabasis. But there is also much good in Robert Kaplan's The Ends Of The Earth and Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari, both books that I would consider to be very leftish in political outlook.

If we want to understand the various crosscurrents of Islam, do we go to Esposito's "politically correct" Oxford History of Islam, or the more accurate (but less flattering) The Closed Circle by David Pryce-Jones? The best approach is to read both, and decide for myself.

The ultimate answer, of course, is to stay away from the "current events" rack entirely and stick to history.
posted by mrmanley at 7:38 PM on April 14, 2004


While I'm at it, the person who taught me the phrase "culture war" wasn't some frothing at the mouth lefty, but good old justice Scalia.
Scalia wrote in his dissent that the court had “taken sides in the culture war and signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.”
Again, creating this division helps the right as they can play the Jesus/Moral card, the US vs Them card, etc. Its no surprise that its the conservative site that has this division. Spend five minutes listening to talk conservative radio and you'll see how they've turned "liberal" into a generic insult. Now the brownshirts are making sure good NR readers don't run into these verboten books.

Its wrong. Its divisize. Its stupid. Yet, it sums up the NR so very well.

mrmanley: Skallas' jackassery notwithstanding

Explain the nation analogy, buddy. You can ignore me, but you're failing to make sense when you call Miguel a "Bush-Basher" because THE NATION DOES IT TOO.
posted by skallas at 7:41 PM on April 14, 2004


addendum: if the American left was to do the smart thing right now, they'd muzzle and/or distance themselves from the yo-yo left (who to be fair, have just as many "acid tests" as the Bush-ites) and for alliances with those Republicans who are feeling alienated by Bush.

Just my two cents.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 PM on April 14, 2004


There's a difference between a polemic (O'Reilly, Franken)
and a memoir with a point of view (O'Neill, Clarke and Karen Hughes). I'll always have a look at the latter, regardless of ideology, but I wouldn't read a polemic I didn't agree with -- I read Franken and Michael Moore for the amusement value, much as righties listen to Limbaugh or Liddy.
posted by Slagman at 7:42 PM on April 14, 2004


The reason I included "Brave New World" is that I consider it a profoundly conservative work, in the sense that Huxley is saying something about the nature of individual freedom versus a more nebulous societal "liberalism".
Hmm. Well, just goes to show you. I don't think of individual freedom as being un-liberal; I do think of Brave New World as being a cautionary tale of technology (which isn't much questioned these days outside Lancaster County PA) and groupthink (which all political extremes are vulnerable to).
And just out of curiosity, why would you consider C&C a book that conservatives would "readily latch on to"
It takes a culturally triumphalist view of warfare that fits in nicely with a lot of the thinking I see coming out of the right.
posted by adamrice at 8:24 PM on April 14, 2004


Just like to add that Starship Troopers was indeed a novel of ideas (as well as a 50's-style Heroic Adventure for Boys) but the target audience for its ideas was 13 year olds. So, you know, it wasn't exactly 'Crime and Punishment'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:34 PM on April 14, 2004


To put things in perspective, here's a bit of material on the authors of the NRO's top 5 conservative and top 'liberal' books.

THE "LIBERALS"

"The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill" - by Ron Suskind (Author)

"....Ron Suskind was The Wall Street Journal's senior national affairs reporter from 1993 to 2000 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing while working there. He has recently attracted national attention with his groundbreaking articles about the Bush White House. Suskind, who writes for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and other national publications, appears frequently as a correspondent on PBS and network news. He is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed A Hope in the Unseen and is a distinguished visiting scholar at Dartmouth College. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two sons."

Hmmmm - a seasoned veteran ofthe WSJ......
____________________________________________

"Now what I get a sense of from all of this -- and then topped obviously by spending all the money in 2000 to basically buy the election -- is that this is not a family that has a particularly strong commitment to American democracy. Its sense of how to win elections comes out of a CIA manual, not out of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution." -- Kevin Phillips

"....Hey, you would expect this kind of talk from a lefty, right. But Kevin Phillips ain't no lefty. He's a former Nixon staffer and authored "The Emerging Republican Majority" back then. He hasn't had any transformation that has turned him into a -- God Forbid! -- Democrat. As he tells BuzzFlash, he voted for Reagan twice and would have eagerly voted for John McCain.

He hasn't stopped being Republican. It's just that he's appalled at what the Republican Party has become under the Bush dynasty." (Buzzflash)

_____________________________________________

Craig Unger served as the deputy editor of the New York Observer and the editor of Boston Magazine. He has written about the two George Bushes for The New Yorker, Esquire, and Vanity Fair. He lives in New York City.
______________________________________________

Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The one person who knows more about Usama bin Laden and al Qaeda than anyone else in this country, he has devoted two decades of his professional life to combating terrorism. Richard Clarke served seven presidents and worked inside the White House for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush until he resigned in March 2003.
_______________________________________________

Al Franken - No question about it. He's a partisan liberal.


THE CONSERVATIVES

"Prior to his post at Fox News Channel, Hannity hosted a radio talk show in Atlanta on WGST-AM. He also frequently substitutes for fellow talk show host, Rush Limbaugh on WABC in New York.

Sean Hannity has been named "Talk Show Host of the Year" and one of the "Top 100 Talk Hosts in America." by Talkers Magazine. He is originally from Long Island, New York."

(FOX News biography of Sean Hannity)
______________________________________________

John Stossel - A prominent ABC Journalist with a bit of a checkered past which includes the apparent fabrication or gross distortion of evidence : "In fact, the pesticide tests that Stossel claimed were conducted for ABC News to examine pesticides on produce-the results of which he reported on 20/20-were never conducted at all, according to the scientists the network hired to perform laboratory studies for Stossel's investigation. ABC News broadcast the fabricated results four times in the course of airing Stossel's investigation on three separate dates. " ( more on Stossel, from FAIR)

Stossel also has a rather strong bias : ""I started out by viewing the marketplace as a cruel place, where you need intervention by government and lawyers to protect people. But after watching the regulators work, I have come to believe that markets are magical and the best protectors of the consumer. It is my job to explain the beauties of the free market." --ABC News correspondent John Stossel (Oregonian, 10/26/94)
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Michael Savage (oh my)

"He muses about launching preemptive nuclear strikes on the Middle East ("I wish to God the hatches were open and the missiles were flying!"), suggests gunning down illegal immigrants ("If we had a government, we'd blow them out of the desert with airplanes!"), dreams of dispatching with "commies, pinkos and perverts" and other undesirables ("I say round them up and hang 'em high!") and even paraphrases a remark attributed to Nazi leader Hermann Goering ("When I hear someone's in the civil rights business, I oil up my AR-15!")

Woe be unto those who label him racist, sexist or homophobic -- or even worse, threaten his livelihood. When an Oregon group started a boycott of his advertisers last summer, he became downright apoplectic. "I'm more powerful than you are, you little hateful nothings!" he screeched, before intoning darkly in his trademark New-Yawk accent: "I'm gonna warn you again: If you harm me -- and I pray that no harm comes to you -- but I can't guarantee that it won't." Just last week, Savage fumed about the "brownshirt groups" who dare to criticize him: "You stinking rats who hide in the sewers! ... You think I'm going to roll over like a pussy? You're wrong!" (Salon.com article by David Gilson, on Savage)
"
______________________________________________

Bill O'Reilly - Seldom has a talk show host told more people, groups - and even whole nations to "Shut Up" :

" "Shut up!"Fox News channel talk show host Bill O'Reilly says "shut up" the way other people say "um."

On his daily show, The O'Reilly Factor, he uses it as a place-holder for an idea still formulating in his brain. As a way to begin a sentence, end it, or punctuate it. Sometimes he says "shut up" with fury, eyes bulging. When he's being dismissive, he delivers it offhandedly and without real malice. Other times he says it gently, with a minxlike twinkle in his eye, signaling to all the world that he's just being frisky.

O'Reilly wants specific individuals to shut up, and he names them. He would like all gays and lesbians to zip it—even though he's invited them on his show to talk about … homosexuality. He's even heaved this impolite language at entire nations, demanding they recuse themselves from the international conversation. " ( from Slate.com article by Jack Shafer )

_____________________________________________

Myrna Blyth - regardless of what one thinks of her latest book - probably has the most gravitas of this conservative lot. Her trade was in words, and she didn't earn her stripes by fabricating material, telling people to shut up, or fantasizing about mass murder via nuclear weapon strikes.
posted by troutfishing at 9:01 PM on April 14, 2004


It's the authors they're saying are liberal, but the topic, largely. They call Clarke's book liberal because he's challenging the establishmed practices (albeit only established since the beginning of this administration) - progressive, hence liberal.
posted by abcde at 9:13 PM on April 14, 2004


Just like to add that Starship Troopers was indeed a novel of ideas (as well as a 50's-style Heroic Adventure for Boys) but the target audience for its ideas was 13 year olds.

Um, yes, I read it, too, and, um, tend to agree with stavros's rather overly generous assessment. Ditto for The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. I used to have all the Heinleins up to Methuselah's Children in Gnome Press hardcover first editions or whoever was his juvenile publisher. When I was a kid. My enthusiasm for waned thereafter. And I let those hardcovers go, alas...

I have no great respect for him as a thinker--he was a major blowhard and windbag in his later career and those two novels--Troopers and Mistress are chock full o' emotionally manipulative agit-prop imho. They didn't suck like Farnham's Freehold, however.

He did write a funny critique of Libertarianism in Coventry.

His novel of ideas for me was Beyond This Horizon.
posted by y2karl at 9:16 PM on April 14, 2004


Weigh it yourself, honey.
posted by troutfishing at 9:28 PM on April 14, 2004


y2karl: Come on man. I hear what you are saying, and Beyond This Horizon was great, but there are more good ones than that! Stranger in a Strange Land? Time Enough for Love? To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

I admit, they are a bit juvenile. And yes, he did become a blowhard to some extent. But he writes so captivatingly in the books that he cares about, and openly admits to the ones he wrote just to make money. There's something to be said for that. I don't know what that something is, but it's there.

All of this is horribly offtopic, but I can't stand to get involved when skallas and whomever is fighting with skallas is around. It's akin to jumping into a pond full of piranhas whose teeth are much sharper than their wit.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:02 AM on April 15, 2004


As a man liberal so liberal that my one regret is I'll never get an abortion, let me say that this Republican-penned book kicks ass, making historical and contemporary political arguments alongside one another. I hope that Fareed Zakaria is gay so that the Republicans shame him into turnin' librul.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:28 AM on April 15, 2004


I don't think of individual freedom as being un-liberal

weird how the meaning of words can completely change. When referring to nineteenth century british politics being a 'liberal' was all about the preservation of individual freedoms coupled to laissez faire economics, a pity that it has been debased.
posted by johnnyboy at 3:10 AM on April 15, 2004


But what exactly is a liberal and what is a republican ?

Assuming that such a distinction really exist , I would like you "experts" in the field (cause you talk so much about them)to describe in all the gory details what's the difference, and why and how is the difference important.

To me, it's just marketing, therefore vaporware. Try changing my mind.
posted by elpapacito at 3:48 AM on April 15, 2004


Mr. Cardosa,

I think there's something in the Dewey Decimal System regarding these two distinct type books. There's fiction, humor and satire. Then there's children's books and current events. Thanks for all your great posts.

Sean Hannity selling his books for 99 cents speaks volumes.
posted by nofundy at 5:09 AM on April 15, 2004


The Politics of T.S. Eliot

"We must be very patient, said Eliot, awaiting the dissolution of liberalism and the recovery of tradition."
posted by hama7 at 5:53 AM on April 15, 2004


The idea that these books are insight into how elections might turn out strikes me as unlikely. People willing to invest the price of hardcover in a monograph which reinforces what they already believe are not swing voters, nor are they people who might forget to turn out and vote if there's something good on ESPN that night.

To put it another way, these books battle the way that the Soundscan figures for N.E.R.D. and the White Stripes do, but the election is decided on a battle between the sales for Jessica Simpson versus that of Linkin' Park.

Jonmc, by the by, I think that a lot of Republicans of the libertarian-learning variety could have been persuaded to vote for Howard Dean, who had a record of fiscal moderacy, civil libertarianism and a pretty staunch skepticism of expensive interventionism.

I can't really see them voting for John Kerry, though, who has a 20 year record as a spend-happy social liberal and who's taken an (at most) tenuous stance left of Bush on the domestic security and foreign military action issues.
posted by MattD at 5:56 AM on April 15, 2004


I'm not dismissing everything the guy wrote, lazaruslong. He could be a craftsman--By His Bootstaps, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and All You Zombies come to mind. My preferences just tend to land towards the older stuff. But that's true for Philip K. Dick for me as well. He went downhill for me from Our Friends From Frolix 8 on.

Hmpf, re-reading Coventry made me re-realize he uses that a guy and a spy bust out of jail bit twice--the other time in Gulf, with its supermen versus evil right wing plutocrats spy war subtext. Stranger, for all its 60s trappings, was about a superman, too, now that I think about it.
posted by y2karl at 7:41 AM on April 15, 2004


Just plain stupid and sad.
posted by rushmc at 9:24 AM on April 15, 2004


What, Heinlein, or his readers?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:51 PM on April 15, 2004


jonmc: The Greatest Political Book Of All Time by America's Greatest Social Critic and it's neither liberal nor conservative

I *heart* Jim Goad, even though he talks smack about my hometown - he's obviously never seen the "steel-toe boot, Ben Davis pants, Pendleton shirt wearing, pasty-faced because the sun only shines twice a year in your neighborhood" San Francisco I grew up in. Then again, I don't think most people have. /derail

The Redneck Manifesto is one of the most devastatingly articulate pieces of writing I have ever read. It's also one of the most deliberately abrasive to the point of offensive books I ever read - offensive, that is, if you completely lack the capacity to discern when someone's exercising his very biting, sarcastic wit. There's plenty in his book to offend/enlighten everyone. Jim Goad makes my brain hurt, in a good way.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:49 PM on April 15, 2004


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