Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been traveling like I’m David Morse in Twelve Monkeys, disseminating an apocalyptic virus. Okay, that was a little forced.
Anyway, I am now in beautiful Hawaii. The day before yesterday I was in soggy England. I crossed 10 time zones in two days. And now I’m resting at a place rented by my in-laws for a family get-together.
London was a lot of fun but stressfully hectic. The Fair Jessica and I we’re there from last Friday through Wednesday for the UK release of my book (I’m not keeping an eagle eye on the Amazon.co.uk sales rank, though it’s just not the same). My mom and brother came down from New York to watch my daughter while we were gone. As a result, we came back to discover that she can now roll a cigarette while drinking a Martini.
The book “tour” (it was more like a two-day media blitz) went well. Penguin – my esteemed British publisher – booked me on a slew of shows. The amazing thing was that they were nearly all on BBC. I don’t think you can appreciate what behemoth the place is until you realize that they’ve got the equivalent of a dozen Fox or CNN headquarters. Between TV and radio, BBC dominates Britain on a scale I never fully realized. It’s like NPR owning NBC, CBS and ABC.
Anyway, I started the week on Start the Week, an apparently huge British radio show. It was a perfectly fine conversation, though being forced to read the homework on human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce and then hear her spiel, I have a renewed intellectual contempt for the human rights legal establishment (you can hear a hint of it in my response to her). Then, I recorded some show called nightwaves http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/nightwaves/ where the host, an academic specialist on totalitarianism, and the London correspondent of the Nation, double-teamed me for about a half hour (they cut it to 12 minutes or so, I’m told). The host was charming, but clearly didn’t like a rube from the states trying to break his food bowl. The guy from the Nation was completely out of central casting. He read from prepared notes and quoted Katha Pollitt as if it was a serious appeal to authority.
There were other interviews, but the most fun were my talks to conservative groups. The New Culture Forum put on a great event for me. The Spectator’s James Delingpole (author of the just-released Welcome to Obamaland) led a conversation on the book. Helen Szamuely reviews it all here and pictures and other details are here. The next day, I also spoke at Parliament itself to a group of younger conservatives for the Young Britons Foundation – a self-styled sister-group to the Young America’s Foundation.
It’s great to see British conservatives becoming intellectually galvanized. As I suggest in my column today, they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them.
There are allegedly a whole slew of reviews coming out in the next few days in the British press. Stay tuned.
Dominic Lawson of The Times of London reviewed it last weekend. It was snarky but not exactly in much disagreement, either.
By the way, Philadelphia Inquirer book editor Frank Wilson, links to the review and says:
I downloaded Goldberg’s book on my Kindle because I was curious about a book that had made it on to the NYT best-seller list without ever being reviewing in the Times or most other papers and because I didn’t want to pay the full price for what I suspected might be a screed. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a well-written historical survey of a set of ideas and how they grew. I was also surprised by what I learned about Mussolini.
Anyway, I’ll have some more thoughts on all of this, some of them in the Corner. But as it’s either 4:30 AM, 9:30 AM or 2:30 in the afternoon, according to my body clock, I’ll stop here for now.