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Forgive Us Our Spins: Michael Moore and the Future of the Left Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 18, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (August 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047179306X
  • ASIN: B005Q8KB5A
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,726,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After the left's electoral defeat of 2004, filmmaker and all-around provocateur Michael Moore has been an easy target. In his second book, Larner deftly argues why Moore is also a just target. For liberals who never liked Moore but couldn't figure out why, the book provides essential and definitive muckraking, and the reasons why Moore has attained such prominence within America's conflicted self-image. Larner, a staunch liberal whose rage at much of the current administration's policy is palpable, also despises "political work that emphasizes emotional appeal over factual content" from either side. Moore, he argues, is similar to Anne Coulter in producing journalism of false pretext and sleight-of-montage, sabotaging his own credibility and, by proxy, that of the causes he espouses. Hence, the book is foremost an assiduously researched and impassioned exposé of the foibles that have rendered the left so vulnerable to attack. Some will undoubtedly read it as the revolution's devouring its own children. But Larner's undertaking is admirably unflinching: a call for nuance and evenhandedness from liberals who would revile that same reductionism in the right. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Dedicated liberal Larner is definitely unhappy about would-be cinematic Leftist standard-bearer Michael Moore and his documentaries Roger and Me, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Bowling for Columbine. Larner argues passionately and convincingly that Moore's rollicking, pointed excursions in cinematic invective do his ostensible cause--promotion of liberal candidates and issues--more harm than good through obvious sins of omission and commission that conservatives use to disparage Moore's causes even more than him. Lerner maintains that Moore has become the equivalent of the Right's braying infotainers, inviting comparisons with Ann Coulter and other fast-and-loose cannons the Left despises. Despite such criticism, Larner betrays a bit of discomfort for pillorying a fellow-traveler in the epilogue, in which he pointedly, and probably ineffectually, challenges "decent and sincere traditional conservatives" to "take on [their] own team's excesses," mentioning Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly, in particular, as deserving targets. Probably best not to hold one's breath waiting for that to happen--which, however, doesn't detract from the compelling thrust of Larner's screed. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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A unique and important book.
Regina Walker
It is interesting to see Jesse Larner actually defending Moore from various right-wing silliness.
Ron Weis
It should be read by anyone who is concerned about the state of American politics today.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ron Weis on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
FORGIVE US OUR SPINS: Michael Moore and the Future of the Left, by Jesse Larner. FIVE STARS*****

No, this is not yet another demolition job by a petty critic of Michael Moore, exposing to horror his errors and contradictions with the aim of toting up his moral worth. Nor is it a hagiography of Moore as working-class hero.

It is interesting to see Jesse Larner actually defending Moore from various right-wing silliness. Larner agrees with many of Michael Moore's values, perhaps more than Moore himself, because he pays close attention to how well they are served in the changing American climate. But after much research, Larner does not find Moore to be a useful or honest advocate of these values.

Larner is a great story-teller, with a keen eye for telling events and humorously appalling details. Moving along through a hundred compelling and verified incidents, Moore's story unfolds with balance and perspective, and not a single trace of malice. Larner does not rub his hands with glee when he discovers that Moore is an American success story who keeps his place through calculation and a chillingly self-regarding coldness, and that his written and movie work is distinguished not only by playfulness, but by considerable lying and cheating. Up to now, when others have found inaccuracies and willful distortions in his work, Moore has brushed them off as right-wing vilification or says his movies are made to be only entertainment. But Moore makes serious claims for his work; he wants above all to be taken seriously, and Larner grants him his wish more fully than he himself could imagine.

One of the book's charms is that Larner indefatigably informs himself about the subject-matter of each of Moore's movies in turn.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Susan Berlin on November 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I saw Michael Moore's Columbine, I was made very uneasy by his manipulative use of certain scenes - for instance, his interview with Charlton Heston followed by the elaborately self-serving placement of the photo of a murdered child. And while I certainly agreed with Moore's anti-gun lobby position, I thought his `explanations' for American violence were simple-minded, to say the least.

So it was with interest and a degree of relief that I read Jesse Larner's biography-cum-political commentary - a critique from the left - on Moore and the American left. I'd bet it will stimulate a lot of thinking and discussion among people hungry for a genuine approach to developing progressive American positions.

Larner writes in a fluent, accessible style - and while documenting some of Moore's less savory approaches to both film-making and politics, he maintains an appreciation for Moore's strengths that's a nice counterpoint to the unsubtle and dishonest behaviour he details.

Finally, the book offers thoughtful (though depressing) insights into the current position of the American left.

Susan Berlin
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Pietsch on March 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this look at Michael Moore because the author, like me, shares many of Moore's liberal/left views, yet, as the title suggests, he also is bothered by both Moore the person and Moore the filmmaker. I wanted to find out why.

Larner is persuasive in delineating some of Moore's deceptive methods. Example: Contrary to the whole implication of "Roger and Me", Moore did indeed interview Roger Smith of GM - and at length. As Larner suggests, this and other misrepresentations (like the obvious distortion of depicting happy Iraqi children in Saddam's Iraq, pre-war) serve to give ammunition to the Right and detract severely from his cause.

But in the end I was disappointed with this book since it fails to give Moore enough credit for the enormous success he has had in shining light on injustice in our country. At the end, my clear impression was that Larner basically supports our war in Iraq and can't forgive Moore for "Fahrenheit 9/11".

So read this book, if you wish, but then do as I did and also read "Citizen Moore" by Roger Rapoport, another liberal. Rapoport also describes Moore's shortcomings, but he does the great service of quoting both people who know Moore, like Ralph Nader, and Moore himself at great length. He editiorializes very little and lets the reader sort out for him/herself the strengths and weaknesses of this very talented and complicated man.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Inna Tysoe VINE VOICE on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jesse Larner's book is a refreshing page-turner and (despite his occasional lapse into outright silliness over blogs) largely right on the money. It is refreshing because here is someone who believes in social justice; believes in unions; is outraged at Caterpillar because it is a union-busting company (don't hear that very often, do you?); offers the most plausible explanation of how the 2000 Election was stolen before a single voter walked into the voting booth I have ever heard--and who is outraged at Michael Moore.

But this book is not really about Michael Moore. It is about us. It is about a political debate that "is couched in terms of blind ideology"; about a culture that prefers the simple, emotionally satisfying story about "good and evil" to an honest analysis (or even an assessment of our own interests). In such a political culture, when the time is right (and after the 2000 Election, 9/11, and the Iraq War the time was very right indeed), a Michael Moore, an Ann Coulter, and many, many others find a receptive audience, can become quite wealthy and can come to "represent their" side in the popular imagination, at home and abroad.

And that, as Larner points out is destructive indeed. It is destructive in the first instance to "their side" but in the long-term it is destructive to the whole point of politics which is supposed to be about reasonable, pragmatic compromise. And so I highly recommend that you read this book. Not so much for what it says about Michael Moore but for what it says about us.
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