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Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Essays and Provocations Hardcover – June 23, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0300123838 ISBN-10: 0300123833 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300123833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300123838
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,496,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A native British wit expresses an adopted American ebullience in this sparkling collection of political journalism and commentary. Fairlie (1924–1990) migrated from London to the U.S. in the 1960s, where his writings in the Washington Post, the New Republic and elsewhere both celebrated and pilloried the American scene. The unstuffy Brit applauds America's informality, its gadgetry, its abundance and vastness, and its personification in a cowboy-poet named Hooter he meets in a Mankato, Minn., bar, but he's appalled by its politics. An avowed Tory in Britain, he discovers conservatism's Reaganite version to be narrow-minded and selfish and mean-spirited; he duly eulogizes FDR, attacks George F. Will and denounces government bashing as the sneer of patronizing and vaulting privilege at the needs of ordinary people that can be served only by government. Whether stomping on the dangerous insects in the Washington media corps or defending his beloved Scotch whiskey against the Perrier water fad that prompted the abandonment of... a wholesome and convivial liquor for a suspect Gallic product, Fairlie's elegantly pugilistic prose still feels fresh—and surprisingly relevant to today's politics. (June)
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"If you doubt that political essays can induce something like ecstasy, I have three names for you. George Orwell, of course. Dwight Macdonald. And Henry Fairlie—who, with this book, may finally get his due."—Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor, The New Yorker
(Hendrik Hertzberg)

“Henry Fairlie was always an inspiration: a rebel, a Tory bohemian, an Oakeshottian, a conversationalist and a merry drunk. He cared more about America than most Americans and wrapped it in a Burkean passion few can equal. This book brings him back to life—and reminds me why we need his like today just as urgently as ever.”—Andrew Sullivan, senior editor, The Atlantic
(Andrew Sullivan)

"In 32 timely and relentlessly witty essays, ranging from the political ('A Cheer for American Imperialism') to the whimsical ('The Importance of Bathtubs'), Fairlie proves why he was widely considered to be one of the best multidisciplinary journalists of the last 50 years."  — The Village Voice

(The Village Voice)

“McCarter offers Fairlie in full, as far as is probably possible."—Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
(Sean Wilentz)

"I read Bite the Hand That Feeds You. And I'm better and wiser for it. . . . It would have been nice to have had Henry Fairlie around during the Cheney presidency. It's a comfort to have the next best thing." — Tim Heffernan,

"Happy is the occasion when a publisher sees fit to gather and gift-wrap a bouquet as fragrant and resplendent as Henry Fairlie's political journalism.  A Grub Street transplant, Fairlie brought to America a fluency in history and prose, a jagged wit, a newcomer's affection for the New World, and a set of self-destructive life-style habits charming only in hindsight. We could use more of his kind. . . . This smartly edited collection gets him at his best. . . . Fairlie's take-down of George Will is a real joy."  —The New Yorker
(The New Yorker)

"One of journalism's great iconoclasts."--The Daily Beast
(The Daily Beast)

"Written in (almost) unfailingly superb English, [Fairlie's essays] retain their appeal mostly because they display a sort of romantic Toryism and yet contain a celebration of American individualism. . . . The word 'raffish' might have been coined for him." —Christopher Hitchens, The New York Times Book Review
(New York Times Book Review)

"Jeremy McCarter of Newsweek has done a judicious job assembling the contents. . . . It all remains fresh and reading through it is like attending a circus."—James Boylan, Columbia Journalism Review
(James Boylan Columbia Journalism Review 2009-08-01)

“And buy Jeremy McCarter's wonderful new collection of some of Henry's greatest pieces — journalism at its finest and crispest and bravest.” — Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish ( blog)

(The Daily Dish (The Atlantic blog) Andrew Sullivan 2009-07-04)

". . . Fairlie brought to America a fluency in history and prose, a jagged wit, a newcomer's affection for the New World, and a set of self-destructive life-style habits charming only in hindsight. . . . This smartly edited collection gets him at his best."  —The New Yorker
(The New Yorker 2009-09-11)

“Display[s] Fairlie’s wit, fluent prose, principled conservatism and love of the United States.”--New  York Times Book Review
(New York Times Book Review)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Gill on September 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his day Henry Fairlie was well known and highly regarded as a journalist. While this current collection of essays is a bit uneven, it is a good introduction to the man and his work, and several of the essays, particularly his take-down of George Will, are worth the price of the book. There is also an excellent introduction that locates him in time and place.

Fairlie called himself a Tory, admired Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt enormously, had a almost romantic but clear eyed affection for America, despised American conservatism (see his piece on the 1980 Republican convention), drank and smoked too much, womanized, and spent his last years living in his office at the New Republic. He died before he should have, and left, not unusual in a journalist, an uneven body of work. He was a journalist, not a theorist, and had no grand ideas on politics or society. Like other writers of similar inclination though he had a strong sense of what worked, in the England of his day and the America he came to in his 40s.

Would that he were alive today. In the era of Sarah Palin and John Boehner we desperately need him.
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