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Please Don't Remain Calm: Provocations and Commentaries Hardcover – April 17, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Partisan political writing generally enjoys the life expectancy of a weather report, but this collection of Kinsley's trenchant commentary is worth preserving. Kingsley has assembled 127 essays on the American political scene from the Clinton administration to the present. He eschews deep analysis in favor of poking fun at the foibles, evasions, contradictions and hypocrisies of American public figures and the media that feed off them, with occasional detours into his personal life. Inevitably, some pieces show their age, but readers will relish his skewering of the 2000 and 2004 elections. Kinsley is irresistible when he steps back from reporting to pose his trademark provocative—often humorous—questions: Why is it admirable for scientists to love science and businessmen to love business, but political candidates must proclaim how much they hate politics? Is Pat Robertson anti-Semitic or simply nuts? Does President Bush really believe his claim that all Muslims and Jews are going to hell because they don't accept Jesus? While essays from recent years naturally feel more relevant, every essay in this collection sparkles with Kinsley's trademark brand of wit. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Successor to Kinsley’s previous collection, Big Babies (1995), this volume gathers the best since then of the liberal pundit’s commentary, which appeared in Slate, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Readers who believe President George W. Bush is a liar, stupid, or, in a typically backhanded Kinsleyism, “not a complete moron” can relive Bush’s iniquities. It was stem-cell research that provoked Kinsley’s sarcastic absolution of Bush from the Bush-is-dumb trope, but whether he advocated tax cuts, privatizing Social Security, invading Iraq, or appointing conservative judges, Bush and his policies come in for rarely remitting criticism from Kinsley. Politics dominates these pages, which occasionally give way to observations on journalistic ethics, the Internet’s impact on journalism, and now-forgotten headlines, for instance, the gambling addiction of moralist Bill Bennett. The Washington whirl also makes way for two personal pieces, which discuss his Parkinson’s disease and recent brain surgery. Health problems aside, Kinsley seems in fine fettle for continuing the liberal brief on the American scene. --Gilbert Taylor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066548
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Though they may read like opinion or satire, these sparkling essays are first and foremost, journalism: they inform. Michael Kinsley commands more facts than Al Franken's whiz-kid team of Harvard student researchers, wields a sharper rhetorical scalpel than either Lewis Lapham or Christopher Hitchens, and affects a gentler, warmer tone than even Garrison Keillor right as that scalpel goes in. Kinsley's magazine "The New Republic" lost me when it took that screeching right turn in the 90's; his appearances on NPR, with their magisterial equanimity, can come off as bland or even mealy-mouthed; but this collection is his triumph: the product of a broad, sober, splendid intellect confronting our absurd, horrid politics without once losing touch with reality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Macrae on July 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Highly respected, Mr. Kinsley's provocations are a great read, like listening to a wry familiar crack wise and witty about the various political confusions in American life. By turns insightful and hilarious its irreplacable in the serious national study.
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By Rohan Shankar on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy reading political material, but I prefer well reasoned thoughts that are based on analytical thinking. All too often the material is so partisan and biased that the book is better used as a doorstop than an article of enlightenment. I'm afraid this book falls into that category.
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