From a reader:
I’ve finally figured out what I find so unsatisfying about the complaints of Tomasky and others. It seems to me that the standard practice when reviewing a book that is allegedly derivative or unnecessary is to recommend the acknowledged authoritative book on the subject. Funny that in all the reviews I’ve read of LF I haven’t seen a single one that suggested an alternative book to read on the subject of Progressivism and fascism. To me that says that those amongst the left who do know about this history don’t want it talked about. Not because it’s old hat or too boring, but for the same reason you don’t talk about your grandparents locking Crazy Aunt Mabel in the attic; it’s too embarrassing and shameful.
Condolences on the passing of Mr. Buckley.
Me: This is a very good point. Since I can say with pretty much total certainty that there is no other single book that comes close to collecting all of these facts in one place, you would think some honest liberal reviewers would say “Goldberg’s all wrong on his interpretation of the facts, but these things are worth knowing.” Fred Siegel — who is very critical of the book — made this point at our Hudson panel. He says he tries to get his liberal friends to at least read the eugenics chapter because so much of this stuff is unknown. Of course, Tomasky says otherwise. But Tomasky’s just making a fool or a liar of himself when he suggests that the history in my book is common knowledge to your average liberal. Where would they learn this stuff? In college? Nope. In high school? Nope. In his magazine? Nope. So unless there’s a prairie fire of interest among rank and file liberals to read up on the darker side of their own history that nobody has noticed or documented, I think the “we already know this” claim is unalloyed nonsense intended, at least in part, to keep people from knowing this history.
It’s similar to the critics who say the book is terribly written. Tastes vary, of course. But I’m pretty confident that my prose isn’t terrible, never mind nigh-upon impenetrable. So when critics say it’s such a chore to read, my assumption is that what they’re really doing is begging their comrades not to even crack the spine. It’s just another way to say “nothing to see here folks.”