From Publishers Weekly
Syndicated columnist and CNN commentator Charen offers a moral indictment of those public figures-politicians, entertainers and professors-who, she says, stubbornly refused to see communism for what it was: a brutal, dictatorial death machine. Throughout the Cold War, some public figures and activists cheered the Communist movement and berated America for its capitalist ways. Famous actors traveled to Cuba to smoke a cigar with their favorite dictator; posters of Che Guevara, Castro's military leader, adorned college dorms during the '60s; the Soviet Union was praised and defended for its social progress. Charen particularly singles out the media as having played a significant role in distributing tendentious if not false accounts of world events. One example tells of Katie Couric's visit to Cuba in 1992. Upon her return, according to Charen, Couric raved about Cuba's "terrific health-care system," but uttered not a word about the men and women detained in Cuban prisons. The author highlights the kind of historical revisionism and self-hatred that marked some of America's most noted public figures and warns that the lessons learned from communism are just as relevant today. The tragedy of September 11, Charen says, has produced a cadre of left-leaning pundits who wasted no time in blaming America for the violence perpetrated by terrorism. Charen is operating as a polemicist here, and some readers will object to her tarring all liberals with the same brush. But there is a strong market for conservative polemics today, and many readers will cheer Charen on.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Political gab-show regular Charen does a bang-up job of summarizing one of the Right's oldest complaints: that left liberals--whom she distinguishes from anticommunist liberals such as Vietnam-era U.S. senator Henry Jackson--never saw a communist regime they didn't like. She opens the indictment at the cold war's end, which left liberals wouldn't report as a free-world victory because, she says, they idolized Mikhail Gorbachev, overvalued communist full employment, and were (and are) knee-jerk anticapitalists. In subsequent chapters on Vietnam and its aftermath, liberals' love affair with Stalinist Russia, and the overturning of Grenada's and Nicaragua's revolutionary regimes, Charen quotes one liberal's embarrassing statement after another and juxtaposes them devastatingly with the tolls of death, imprisonment, and impoverishment in communist states. She is wonderfully convincing until she comes to the Elian Gonzalez affair and the war on terrorism, where principled conservatives may demur that the Clinton administration did the right thing--returning Elian to his father--very poorly, and that the present administration is reacting wrongly to what are crimes, not casus belli. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved