From Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize–winner Will (Men at Work
) serves up an engaging compilation of his columns and reviews from the past five years. Touching lightly on the Bush administration and heavily upon American history, good government, obituaries and baseball among other less schismatic topics, Will is at his most colorful when describing the intrigues and absurdities of great figures in American political history—FDR setting the price of gold from his bed, Churchill imperiously ordering bacon and alcohol from White House staff. Will is, in the late William Buckley's words, the consummate conservative high-priest, who favors historical analogy and tasteful argumentation to partisan moralizing. The columns are uniformly excellent, but they are short-lived pleasures and can become disposable when read one after another—even the grouping by genre cannot obviate this—and these essays would have been better served had they been arranged chronologically. Nevertheless, this is a rewarding book, offering all the riches of a writer in full control of his medium and with plenty to tell. (June)
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In his eighth collection of writings, with the benefit of his characteristic wit and style and a 40-year-career as a columnist, Will offers a broad, insightful, and affectionate look at American culture. He is ecumenical in his admiration of iconic American figures: Daniel Patrick Moynihan is remembered as a Sisyphus “forever pushing uphill a boulder of inconvenient data” and Milton Friedman as the nation’s most “consequential public intellectual of the twentieth century.” Predictably, Will lambastes absurdities committed by liberals—the city of Oakland charging as hate speech an effort to promote heterosexual marriage as the foundation of the “natural family”—but also takes conservatives to task. Will is skeptical of big idea conservatism and nostalgia for Ronald Reagan as a substitute for thinking. In this collection, Will turns his attention mostly to the incredible array of ideas and notions of American life—consumerism, religious fervor, commercial vitality—and so conveys the energy and vibrancy of American culture, society, economy, and politics. In pithy commentary on culture, Will is admiring of the endurance of Harley-Davidson and Brooks Brothers, and critical of political correctness on university campuses and elsewhere. Will’s greatest rhapsody is reserved for sports, particularly his beloved baseball. Will blends journalism, history, philosophy, and analysis so gracefully that readers of any political stripe must admire his effort and his art. --Vanessa Bush