The Corner

Hondo

One small thrill of reviewing books–in addition to the small thrill of receiving a generally small paycheck–is seeing the publisher use your words to promote a worthy book that you’ve written about favorably. I once grabbed a new paperback off the front table of a store, held it before my wife, and declared, “I wrote that!” She gave me a funny look, wondering why I hadn’t told her before then about authoring a whole volume. So I pointed to the handful of words written in tiny print above the title: “Engrossing! Mesmerizing! Whoopee! — National Review.” Or somesuch. Well, I didn’t quite rate the cover of the new edition of Hondo, the classic Western by Louis L’Amour, but I was happy to see something I’d written in the Wall Street Journal appear near the top of the press release announcing a hardcover line of Louis L’Amour Legacy Editions. “L’Amour is popular for all the right reasons. His books embody heroic virtues that seem to matter now more than ever. … L’Amour falls into the grand tradition of Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.” Go here to read the full piece. Go here to buy a new Hondo–something I won’t have to do, because the publisher graciously sent me a copy. That’s perhaps the final small thrill of book reviewing: the free books.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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