Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004

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9780143035534: Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004

Here at last are Hendrik Hertzberg’s most significant, hilarious, and devastating dispatches from the American scene he has chronicled for four decades with an uncanny blend of moral seriousness, high spirits, and perfect rhetorical pitch. Arranged thematically, each section contains the choicest, most illuminating pieces from his body of work and begins with a new piece of writing that frames the subject at hand. A tour of the defining moments of American life from the mid-’60s to the mid- ’00s, Politics is at once the story of American life from LBJ to GWB and a testament to the power of the written word.

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Review:

These are rich times for writers of Hendrik Hertzberg's political persuasion. The stalwart political commentator has plenty of qualified company on the left when it comes to critiquing the conservative revolution, notably Lewis Lapham, William Greider, and Paul Krugman. But the former New Republic editor and current New Yorker executive editor has a voice that is particularly suitable for an on-the-outs observer. Hertzberg seems almost delighted to pinpoint hypocrisy, inconsistency, greed, and masked cynicism. At his best, he makes indignation fun. Politics gathers dozens of Hertzberg's editorials and essays in one hefty volume, organizing them in loose subdivisions ("The Wayward Media," "Wedge Issues," "2000 + 9/11"). The former Jimmy Carter speechwriter isn't above lancing those on the left who fail to match their ideals with their actions, but, naturally, he's at his best when scrutinizing those on the right. The Reagan and Bush II administrations proved to be particularly inspirational. Keen, pithy, and daring (if not always right; in 1988, he ruefully forecasted a Dan Quayle administration), Hertzberg ranks with the finest political writers of his era. The proof is in this wide-ranging and smartly edited compilation. --Steven Stolder

About the Author:

Hendrik Hertzberg has been a staff writer and editor at the New Yorker since 1992, and also in the early 1970s. He has also been a naval officer, a Newsweek reporter, President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter, and (twice) editor of the New Republic.

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