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They Eat Puppies, Don't They?: A Novel Hardcover – May 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In his latest novel of bull’s-eye political satire, Buckley (Supreme Courtship, 2008) skewers our adversarial yet symbiotic relationship with China, along with the corruption endemic to lobbying, weapons manufacturing, and media spin. Walter “Bird” McIntyre, lobbyist for an aerospace behemoth, is instructed to “whip up . . . anti-Chinese fervor” to help secure government funding for a new secret weapon. Hapless and endearing, Bird divides his time between the condo he calls the Military-Industrial Duplex and the country estate he dubbed Upkeep, home to his equestrian wife, Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother, and freeloading brother Bewks, a Civil War reenactor, while writing egregiously clichéd thrillers. Bring on sexy-scary hawk and neocon Angel Templeton, and Bird is in more trouble than he concocts for his tough-guy heroes. Vicious confrontations break out on Chris Matthews’ Hardball, the Dalai Lama is in peril, and the eminently reasonable president of China can talk with his trusted aide only in the bathroom with the water running full blast to foil their enemies’ listening devices. Buckley balances bayonet humor and tenderness in this canny and diverting send-up. --Donna Seaman



"Writing comic fiction about world events demands wit and inside knowledge about Washington. It also requires an ability to see the light side of serious issues like China's treatment of Tibet, the death of beloved spiritual leaders and America's financial dependency on China. These are not funny topics, but Christopher Buckley's new novel about them, They Eat Puppies, Don't They?, is hilarious."— USA Today

"With rising concern about China's military buildup and its economic rivalry with the U.S., perhaps the best course of action is to milk the situation for some laughs. And there are laughs aplenty in Christopher Buckley's sendup.... Creators of great works of satire, such as Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain, don't appear often, but Buckley follows in the footsteps of fellow satirist Tom Wolfe in giving readers a delightful perspective on some of the leading issues and social mores of our times."—Associated Press

"Sun Tzu's Chinese classic, 'The Art of War,' gets quite a workout in Christopher Buckley's latest uproarious political farce, fervently quoted by strivers and schemers in both Beijing and Washington."—The New York Times Book Review

"Buckley is at his searing best.... Buckley knows Washington. He knows satire. He knows Dr. Strangelove and how to ratchet up absurdities. As our antiheroes get closer and the stakes climb, the book mixes outrageousness and plausibility like a dirty martini..... this is a funny book, and there's nothing here to displease the devoted Buckley fan. And perhaps it speaks to his skill with satire that as the world teeters toward war, we find ourselves missing his lobbyist."—The Washington Post

"They Eat Puppies, Don't They? cuts deftly between politburo meetings in China and backroom deals in Washington while skewering D.C. pretensions.... Unlike so many other satirists of Beltway culture, Buckley is both deeply informed and deeply funny."—The Wall Street Journal

"Waggishly amusing... It requires a certain measure of audacity to reward that most whacked of political piñatas, the Washington lobbyist, with his day in the sun. But lobbyists and spin doctors have been good to Buckley (see Thank You for Smoking and Boomsday), who reciprocally accords them a mordant admiration akin to that which David Mamet has lavished upon real estate sharks and card sharps."—San Francisco Chronicle

"A hilarious and page-turning story of political absurdity worthy of Dr. Strangelove himself."—The Daily Beast

"A funny, funny book.... Buckley is that rare combination-a brilliant satirist of the first-order and a laugh-out-loud funny writer. They Eat Puppies, Don't They? is one of his best."—Houston Chronicle

"Sharply hilarious, outrageously fun....Outrageous does not mean implausible, however, and Buckley commands the material so convincingly that the reader stops to ponder if some comic invention wasn't something read in the newspaper last week...They Eat Puppies is smart entertainment, too. And seriously funny."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"World powers get little respect from Christopher Buckley in his latest novel.... And as the title might suggest, there is a lot of humor to be digested...hilarious....The usual disclaimer describes the book as a 'work of fiction,' and one can only hope there are no exceptions to that."—The Oklahoman

"Bulls-eye political satire"


"The title refers to the supposed culinary propensities of the Chinese, but as this novel makes clear, it's said with more than a twist of irony....A lively and politically spirited read."—Kirkus Reviews

"You won't really be fond of any of the characters in Christopher Buckley's satire 'They Eat Puppies, Don't They?' But you will have a ball reading about their shenanigans.—Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

"Christopher Buckley, amuser-in-chief...Buckley's latest foray into international affairs is entertaining and topical. It cuts close to the bone, funny and otherwise."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A well-built addition to Buckley's oeuvre"—Publishers Weekly


"One of the funniest writers in the English language."—Tom Wolfe

"A Benchley with WordPerfect."—John Updike

"An effervescent joy."—Joseph Heller

"Christopher Buckley is the nation's best humor novelist."—Christian Science Monitor

"Christopher Buckley doesn't merely observe the zeitgeist better than anyone else on the planet. He anticipates it-and routinely has a new novel finished at the precise moment when everyone else is about to notice that something is afoot."—National Review

"Each of his novels may be light as air, but bit by bit they're building up into a significant social portrait, the beginnings of a vast Comédie-Washingtonienne . . . At a time of high political absurdity, Buckley remains our sharpest guide to the capital, and amore serious one than we may suppose."—Blake Wilson, New York Times Book Review

"As Jon Stewart proves, Washington is an easy target to satirize with its hypocrisy, ego-powered politicians and endless hot-air emissions. What sets Buckley apart is his ability to mock Washington yet convey a genuine admiration for many of its residents . . . Buckley remains hilarious."—USA Today

"Hilarious . . . full of wry observations on the follies of Washington high life. What makes it laugh-out-loud funny is Buckley's sense of how little you have to exaggerate to make Washington seem absurd."—New York Daily News

"You can't make this stuff up . . . Unless of course you are Christopher Buckley, son of the late William, whose fictional satires are must-reads for those looking to understand our cultural moment, or at least have a few laughs at it. Buckley is a master at cooking up scenarios that are wild without being entirely absurd and populating them with attractive characters."—Chicago Sun Times

"The quintessential political novelist of our time."—Fortune

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Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Robert Stone describes Burning Down George Orwell's House as a "… most enjoyable, a witty, original turn … one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original." Learn more about the author, Andrew Ervin

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446540978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446540971
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Buckley was born in New York City in 1952. He was educated at Portsmouth Abbey, worked on a Norwegian tramp freighter and graduated cum laude from Yale. At age 24 he was managing editor of "Esquire" magazine; at 29, chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. He was the founding editor of "Forbes FYI" magazine (now "ForbesLife"), where he is now editor-at-large.

He is the author of fifteen books, which have translated into sixteen languages. They include: "Steaming To Bamboola," "The White House Mess," "Wet Work," "God Is My Broker," "Little Green Men," "No Way To Treat a First Lady," "Florence of Arabia," "Boomsday," "Supreme Courtship," "Losing Mum And Pup: A Memoir," and "Thank You For Smoking," which was made into a movie in 2005. Most have been named "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year. His most recent novel is "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?"

He has written for "The New York Times," "Washington Post," "Wall Street Journal," "The New Yorker," "Atlantic Monthly," "Time," "Newsweek," "Vanity Fair," "National Geographic," "New York Magazine," "The Washington Monthly," "Forbes," "Esquire," "Vogue," "Daily Beast," and other publications.

He received the Washington Irving Prize for Literary Excellence and the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
After reviewing the last few Christopher Buckley novels, I'm not sure how many new ways I can come up with saying, "Oh my gosh, this guy is funny!" I started laughing while reading the list of players at the front of the novel. ("Winnie Chang, chair, U.S.-China Co-Dependency Council") I chuckled over the novel's opening sentence. ("The senator from the great state of New York had been droning on for over five minutes, droning about drones.") I think part of my appreciation of Buckley's satire is that I'm a native Washingtonian. Buckley gets DC, the way that Armisted Maupin gets San Francisco--but, like the city he writes about, without all the heart.

In They Eat Puppies, Don't They?, Mr. Buckley is returning to several themes we've seen before. He goes after some of the same targets, too: politicians, the media, Hollywood, reality television, pundits, trophy wives, the uninformed populace, and--of course--novelists. Who can blame him? They all make such inviting targets!

The protagonist at the heart of this novel feels familiar, as well. Lobbyist "Bird" McIntyre shares some of the same DNA as the delightfully unrepentant Nick Naylor in Thank You for Smoking. Both men have an unpopular job to do, and they take pride in their work. Bird is a defense lobbyist. After Congress shoots down his employer's latest big budget defense project in the novel's opening scene, he fears for his job. Fortunately, his employer has something even bigger, more deadly, and more top-secret up his sleeve. It's so top-secret that he won't even tell Bird. Instead, he sets Bird up in a shill foundation called Pan-Pacific Solutions, where he is tasked with rustling up some anti-China sentiment to grease the wheels for this next project's appropriations.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew C Wheeler VINE VOICE on September 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Buckley is one of the great humorous novelists of his generation -- that would be the Boomers, for anyone keeping score -- though he's only good for a novel every few years; THEY EAT PUPPIES, DON'T THEY? is only his ninth novel since The White House Mess in 1986. But, like all great humorists, he has his blind spots -- in particular, Buckley has struggled with writing believable female characters, particularly viewpoint characters. His novels are all about politics, which he sees through a subtly right-wing lens. And, except for his best novel, Thank You for Smoking, he's been hesitant to go for the jugular, the way the writer of satirical novels about the US government should, so his books often land softly rather than stabbing into the ground as they might.

Still, he's both authentically funny and well-grounded in actual Washington power politics: even if he does pull his punches some of the time, he knows where to land them so they still do some damage. His books are usually vaguely timely -- Boomsday was about the looming Boomer retirement wave, and what that will mean for the generation struggling to pay for their benefits, while Supreme Courtship anticipated the hearings over Justice Sotomayor in its own twisted way -- but focused on the big picture rather than specific events [1]. And so THEY EAT PUPPIES is his China novel.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Charles Engelke on May 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you liked Thank You for Smoking, you'll like the first third of this book. But after that it falls a bit flat. The characters never really gel, and the situations don't come to much of a resolution. In fact, there are so many promising hints that go nowhere that I wonder if the Kindle edition is missing some content.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arzurama on August 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really like Christopher Buckley, but I'm beginning to feel the same about him as I eventually felt about Chuck Palahniuk. He's going to the same well just a little too often. He's writing about what he knows best, obviously, DC politics and the hangers-on who roil the waters. But I found it really hard to get through this book, and I'm not altogether sure the effort was worth it in the end. I'll confess, part of my distaste originated from the Angel Templeton character...waaaaay too close to Ann Coulter, and Gawd knows we don't need to stroke that woman's ego any further! But aside from the Chinese President Fa and his loyal aid, Gang, there were no sympathetic characters in sight. I guess you don't NEED that for a successful book, but Byrd/Mitt & Myndi/Ann were just asking to be b***h-slapped on every page they appeared. And - NO - I don't buy the final resolution, I think Buckley copped out! I still think "Losing Mum & Pup" is the best Buckley has written. It's a huge deviation from the others but nothing wrong with that!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lee L. on June 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the 7th of Buckley's novels that I've read, and it's the first time that I felt let down afterwards.

Buckley has a style that doesn't change that much from one novel to the next. You can expect some sort of Washington DC-based story populated with characters with funny names engaged in some sort of satirical yet believable plot. It's hard to imagine someone who's not into political satire (or who works outside of DC) feeling the need to read more than one or two of his novels. But since I love political satire and work in DC, Buckley's been a favorite of mine for years.

I hate to admit though, that They Eat Puppies, Don't They? starts of strong and really fizzles at the end. Like his other novels, you have a cast of characters playing out several plot points throughout the book, but as I was getting closer and closer to the end of the book, I kept thinking to myself "how the heck is he going to wrap this all up with the space that's left?" The answer is that he doesn't. Each component to the plot has a really weak ending. It seems as if there was a deadline that he was up against and just had to wrap everything up. Either that or he just got tired of writing the book and didn't care about how it ended.

Up until around page 300, this book is just as good as his other novels, but then when you realize there's no way he can provide closure to the story by the end of the book, it really heads downhill.

Here's hoping this isn't a taste of things to come!
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