Politics & Policy

Promo time, &c.

Friends, I’m afraid I have a book to flog. At the beginning of December, National Review will bring out Here, There & Everywhere: Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger. The book contains almost 100 pieces, on a great variety of subjects. It’s a little over 500 pages long, with a generous — and, I hope, useful — index. It is dedicated to Bill Buckley. It costs $24.95 — but we’re running an “NRO Special”: $21.95.

If you would like the book inscribed, that’s free. Or — to use an old line — you can have a “rare uninscribed copy”!

To order, please go here.

Maybe I should tell you a little about this book. It’s a grab bag, with eight chapters: “Society,” “Politics,” “People,” “The World,” “Cuba and China,” “Music,” “Golf,” and “Personal.” The pieces were written over the last dozen years: 1995-2007. Most are from National Review, but many appeared in The Weekly Standard, and some appeared in yet other publications. There are speeches, too. (Speeches, but no pontificating — I think.)

What’s in Chapter 1, “Society”? Let’s see: my bit on the honorific “Dr.” A piece on racial identification (boo, hiss!). A piece on rap and guns. A piece on the prevalence of Spanish in America. A piece on the verbotenization of “Christmas” — that sort of thing.

“Politics” contains an account of Election Night 2000, a couple of look-backs at Clinton, a piece on the New York Times, an essay called “The Joy of Tokenism.” (That springs from a visit to “Renaissance Weekend.”)

As for “People,” there are about 20 of them — people, that is. These are profiles of, or interviews with, George W. Bush, Robert Conquest, Natan Sharansky, Phil Gramm, Naguib Mahfouz, Condi Rice, Al Sharpton, Garrison Keillor, Maxine Waters, Bob Shrum, Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Rumsfeld, Cap Weinberger, Rodney Dangerfield . . . You want more? There are more!

“The World” has dispatches from Europe — East and West — and from the Middle East. A lot of Davos stuff; a speech on Solzhenitsyn. “Cuba and China” is what you’d expect. People say, “Why do you write so much about human rights in those countries?” And one answer is — because others do not.

“Golf” is a shortish chapter, but — I like to think — one of the best. I talk about Tiger, Hogan, the movies (Tin Cup, etc.) . . . “Music” contains no criticism — no pure music criticism, or practically none. Instead, these are feature pieces, largely about personalities: Pavarotti, Marilyn Horne, Meredith Willson (the composer of The Music Man), Birgit Nilsson, and so on. There are several dispatches from Salzburg. And there’s even a piece on the music of political conventions and presidential campaigns.

Finally, that chapter called “Personal” — which is autobiographical and (consequently!) often a little offbeat.

Anyway, the book, again, can be ordered here. And do you mind if I throw some blurbs at you? This is a terribly immodest act, but . . . so’s book promotion. The blurbs are from Paul Johnson, Mark Helprin, Norman Podhoretz, Mark Steyn, and Rush Limbaugh. Here you go:

Paul Johnson: “Jay Nordlinger is one of America’s most versatile and pungent writers. He is at home in geopolitics and sociology, in sport and music and literature, and to all these topics he brings an inquiring mind, deep knowledge, and an engaging style. This collection shows him at his wide-ranging best.”

Mark Helprin: “Like all great reporters and essayists, Nordlinger seizes upon the essential details that give a story life in the present and years after. What is most striking about these essays is not their integrity, fearlessness, wit, superb craftsmanship, and the long view they reveal, but that Nordlinger is a man in full. When he writes, ‘For me, the personal transcends the national, historical, and political,’ you know immediately how his portrait of our age has transcended contemporary affairs to read like history. And though always written in pursuit of the enduring and the true, his pieces are so dense in fact and sparkling anecdote that to read them is like opening one present after another. A good man is hard to find: You have found him.”

Norman Podhoretz: “No matter the subject — and what subject has he not touched upon? — Jay Nordlinger writes like the great conversationalist he is. The easy informality of his style never fails to engage and delight, the wide-ranging cultivation it reflects never fails to enlighten, and the energy that propels it never fails to amaze.”

Mark Steyn: “Unlike most of us political pundits, Jay Nordlinger has many other strings to his bow. In fact, most of us don’t even have a bow, but Jay does: You’re as likely to find him at Bayreuth or Salzburg as at a political convention. Or at Augusta National. He has what British politicians term a ‘hinterland’ — a vast array of interests beyond politics that most normal people call ‘life.’ He writes brilliantly about music, and profoundly about golf, and very perceptively about those strange little linguistic tics that seem to pop up out of nowhere and catch the spirit of the age. For his fans, this long overdue Nordlinger reader is a virtuoso display of his rare versatility, on subjects from Rummy to Rosie, Cuba to comedy, ethnic cleansing in Iraq to ‘erotic vagrancy’ in Hollywood. He is a Jay of all trades and a master of . . . well, almost all (we have a few musical differences).”

Rush Limbaugh: “Jay Nordlinger is a Renaissance man, and this book proves it. It’s witty, grabbing, and fun. Nordlinger tackles an array of issues, big and small, with rare humor and insight. He also says nice things about me — which counts for a lot. I couldn’t put it down.”

Is there any other personality like Rush’s? Thank heaven for him.

I’m done book-flogging, for now, but there will be an annoying little ad in Impromptus, for the indefinite future.

Thanks for putting up with this, and now, on to other matters . . .

‐Not long ago, I was reading about Howard Dean. He was saying, “The Republican leaders have made their choice: They want to stay in Iraq and deny our kids health care.” Yup: Same old Dean. Bad, warmongering GOPers vs. Tender Regard for “Our Kids.”

But I was reminded: Dean has gone awfully quiet, for the last three years. Hasn’t he? I mean, awfully quiet — a definite boon to the Democratic party, I’m afraid.

‐A reader alerted me to the student named Stalin González. Yes, Stalin González. Who’s he? He’s a leader of student protests against Venezuela’s strongman Hugo Chávez and his inexorable choking of the country. (You will find an article here.)

Go, Stalin, go!

‐From Stalin to Mao. I wanted you to know about a woman named Mao Hengfeng, who is a political prisoner in China. As the organization Human Rights in China tells us, she was “dismissed from her soap factory job in 1988 when she refused to abort a second pregnancy.” She has been subjected to every abuse by the Chinese authorities — abuses from which we should not avert our eyes, much as we may want to.

You can read about her here. And we ought to remember her type, as we go about our energetic engagement with China.

‐Let’s have a little language. I find that people are overusing the Groundhog Day analogy — I find that I’m overusing it, big-time. I, and many others, keep saying, “It’s like Groundhog Day [the movie] — happening over and over.”

As a linguistic device — a trope — Groundhog Day has become like Groundhog Day!

‐Let’s have a little mail:

Mr. Nordlinger,

The other day as I walked to my car, I noticed a bumper sticker in the parking lot. It read, “I Vote for Children.” My first reaction: Ah, a Democrat. My second reaction: I vote for grownups.

As a bumper sticker, it might not have the same élan, but I like the thought!

‐I’m afraid that Impromptus-ites know me all too well. At the bottom of a thoughtful letter, a reader appended a P.S.: “If you’re ever in Chicago and craving ice cream, Scooter’s, at Belmont and Paulina, has the best frozen custard around.” I immediately checked with some Chicago sources, and they said, “Yes, good, but there are others, too.”

A book on ice cream — particularly shakes — of the United States. You think that would be of interest?


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