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Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline Hardcover – September 2, 2008

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Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline + Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses + Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; First Edition edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566637953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566637954
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this essay collection, British writer Dalrymple (Life at the Bottom) lays out a case for the decline of Western civilization, finding its symptoms lurking in everything from multiculturalism to the delusions of honesty by political leaders. Although less of a lovable curmudgeon than plain ferocious in his ire, the author's forays into literary criticism are appealing if amateurish; a former prison doctor, the author is most cogent when on his own beat, analyzing the criminal justice and medical systems. Predictably pessimistic on the political front, the author has sharp words for his fellow Brits (They are educated by the state, the state provides for them in old age and has made saving unnecessary or, in some cases, actually uneconomic; they are treated and cured by the state... they are housed by the state.... Their choices concern only sex and shopping). He saves his worst condemnation for Muslims: ([Muslim men] satisfy their sexual needs with prostitutes and those whom they quite openly call 'white sluts' ); his pieces on terrorism and suicide bombers abound with ugly stereotyping from which this otherwise entertaining book never fully recovers. (Oct.)
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Mr. Dalrymple illuminates with great clarity and precision some of the most difficult problems of our times. (The Washington Times)

Beautifully written, insightful, and often sad. (Neofusionist)

Brilliant essays. (Conservative Book Club)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 34 customer reviews
The writing style is "English" - erudite, elegant.
J. Mcgregor
If everyone read it with an open mind and listened to these words, we might -- just might -- have one more chance to save ourselves.
R. Stern
I recommend you read this essay if you are interested in the topic and learning more about Dalrymple's work.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Stanley H. Nemeth on October 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Theodore Dalrymple's newest book, a collection of essays chiefly written for the magazine "City Journal," documents beneath the author's trademark wit and irony the sad decadence of contemporary Britain and the resultant loss of "Britishness," a grand tradition of civility and "common decency."

"Britishness," as Dalrymple understands it, once widespread throughout the English populace, though, of course, never universal, was a set of manners marked by "tolerance, compromise..., gentlemanly reserve, respect for privacy, individuality, a ready acceptance and even affection for eccentricity, a belief in the rule of law, [and] a profound sense of irony...." Principal famous - and diverse - models of this behavior Dalrymple convincingly identifies as Dr. Samuel Johnson, Joseph Conrad (the Pole become properly assimilated Englishman), and, his economic views notwithstanding, the incomparable George Orwell.

The loss of "Britishness" began with the post-World War Two decline of British power in the world. Politicians, careerist bureaucrats, and a growing "progressive" intelligentsia hastened its demise. Proponents of the welfare state, for instance, inadvertently or by design, encouraged a formerly self-reliant populace to adopt a sense of entitlement and expect the government to be responsible for its happiness or lack of same. Crime was redefined by police department bureaucrats eager to show its reduction. It was no longer an attack on the safety and welfare of the law-abiding but now an understandable reaction against oppressive external forces, and therefore more deserving of therapeutic reponse than of punishment in the form of lengthy jail sentences.
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110 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on October 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a disclaimer, I think that Dr. Theodore Dalrymple possesses one of the most important and insightful minds in all of conservadom. He's one of five men whom immediately command my attention whenever I discover that they have authored a new article or essay. I've read most of what this retired English psychiatrist has written since 2001 due to my having a subscription to The New Criterion (since that time). I've also devoured all of his City Journal pieces since the new millennium began. Therefore, I figured that I would simply skim this book; a notion that lasted until I got to page 2. At that point, I gave it my full focus as the opinions of Dr. Dalrymple are unlike those you will find elsewhere.

In these pages our narrator acts like a private Oxford Don instructing us both on the ways of humanity and the world. The one thing that the political left will never understand is that the doctor's detached voice is drenched in compassion and kindness. He offers us reality which is far more empathic than any gesture you'll receive from a utopian. Dr. Dalyrmple is appalled by what his native Britain has turned into but never lets his emotions interfere with the telling of the truth. His entire oeuvre is rooted in common sense but accentuated by erudition. Dr. Dalrymple thinks many of the same thoughts that the rest of us do but is better able to elucidate them due to his superior intelligence and breadth of experience.

The strongest essays here are "The Roads to Serfdom" [how pertinent this could be after next week's election], "A Murderess's Tale," "In the Asylum," "Multiculturalism Starts Losing Its Luster," and an analysis of A Clockwork Orange called "A Prophetic and Violent Masterpiece.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By on November 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Liberals ... have destroyed the family and any notion of progress or improvement. They have made a world in which the only freedom is self-indulgence, a world from which -most terrible of all- prison can sometimes be a liberation."

A keen observer and one who can write so concisely, and express himself this well, has to be treasured by anyone who enjoys the art of reading: "I miss, for instance, the sudden illumination into the worldview of my patients that their replies to simple questions sometimes gave me." This simple idea would have cost me a whole to explain. The author has now retired from his psychiatric work in the slums of Britain, and has moved to the hardly safer land of France.

I specially enjoyed the chapters on Anthony Burgess's The Clockwork Orange, the futuristic story that proved so true in today's Britain. One of the sentences that describes in a nutshell the state of the Western world is: "So thoroughly have we drunk at the wells of collectivism that we see the state always as the solution to any problem, never as an obstacle to be overcome. One can gauge how completely collectivism has entered our soul -so that we are now a people of the government, for the government, by the government."

And how about this one for the state of our education system: "The intelligent are not taught what they could learn, while the unintelligent are taught what they cannot learn."

Dalrymple pinpoints the hypocrisy of the left, and how easily they get away with it among our modern bread-and-circus lovers: "One consequence of the liberal intelligentsia's song march through the institutions is the acceptance of the category of Thoughtcrime.
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