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With Charity Toward None: A Fond Look at Misanthropy Hardcover – February 1, 1992


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What If? by Randall Munroe
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, find hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (February 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312071248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312071240
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Misanthropy, as defined here: "If ever you meet someone who cannot understand why solitary confinement is considered punishment, you have met a misanthrope." Sounding a war cry, King ( Lump It or Leave It ) slings as many Molotov cocktails at her brethren as she does at the enemy, occasionally leaving the reader hard put to distinguish the good misanthrope: former president Nixon was wrongly perceived as a hypocrite, although he was actually only trying to hide his misanthropy, argues the author; misanthropes Ty Cobb, Irving Berlin and James Gould Cozzens, on the other hand, are dismissed as merely boring. Such distinctions are crucial to King, who considers misanthropes with "naked intellect" like Flaubert society's true friends because they hold us to the highest standards, while "tender misanthropes," like Rousseau with his sensibilite and, in our own day, Oprah, Donahue and Geraldo, encourage us to discount dignity and character. Also bristling this snarling misanthrope's fur are affirmative action--"favoritism for blacks"--and feminism. Citizens of King's designated "Republic of Nice" and probably even those in the "Republic of Mean" are likely to return their own anger to this diatribe, while the stateless will dismiss King's posturing as dyspepsia manifest.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Queen bee of the it's-not-really-all-in-fun division of barbed humor, King (Lump It or Leave It, 1990, etc.) restrains her vaunted bawdiness a little here and presents an impassioned survey of the general condition of aversion to the whole of humanity. Forget about making nice, says the author. As cleverly irritable and cheerfully disrespectful as ever, King eschews descriptions of such easy paragons of political incorrectness as H.L. Mencken or W.C. Fields to make her point. She does, however, trace the proud history of misanthropy with unmanicured thumbnail sketches of several other leading exponents, drawn from real life and from fiction. Dian Fossey, Ty Cobb, and Coriolanus, with their famed contumely; G. Gordon Liddy and Louis-Ferdinand C‚line, led by their demented different drummers; Rousseau and Bierce and the heroines of long-forgotten potboilers--all are trotted out, snarling. The ``real'' Richard Nixon is finally identified as Alceste, MoliŠre's misanthrope in the dewlapped flesh. And don't forget Timon of Athens or Irving Berlin of Broadway, meanies both. Not one to shortchange the customers, King offers a nice assortment of one-liners. On dying alone: ``I'd rather rot on my own floor than be found by a bunch of bingo players in a nursing home.'' A closet misanthrope's fantasy (which she predicts will catch on): ``involuntary euthanasia.'' Is a misanthrope a natural-born grouch, simply a realist, or just a curmudgeon with a short fuse? Gadfly King never quite decides. While working it all out, though, she whacks organized feminists, affirmative activists, goody-goodies, and everybody else with impartial ferocity. Following Groucho, who intoned the noble anthem of misanthropy so long ago, whatever it is, she's against it. She's got a point. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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I learned a lot and I laughed a lot.
Paul J. Mantyla
If you have had too much PC or have had it up to here with cloying sentimentality, or you just had too much "other people", get this book.
Aristotle
Florence King is brilliant, she is one of my all time favorite people.
Stephen A. Skubinna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Walter Hearne on November 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
I disagree with the NY Times--this book's covers are not too close together. It is of perfect length for a nice antisocial weekend. Kudos to King for introducing the reader to less obvious misanthropes. I learned that Diane Fossey was a savage, Ayn Rand was an obsessive-compulsive Fuhrer-in-waiting, and Ty Cobb was just a bully. People often confuse misanthropy with psychosis. King is sharp enough to make the distinction. I would bump into her and exchange vulgar insults anytime.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
The "failed Southern lady" sets off into history, searching out other members of her own kind. This results in some intriguing character sketches of people like Ambrose Bierce, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dian Fossey, and other famous people-haters. She verges on preciousness in places, as in the interweaving of Nixon's career with a poem by a French courtier. But the book is full of her acidic well-readness, and is endlessly quotable. The introduction is a great exposition--maybe the only one in popular literature--one what makes and what does not make a misanthrope. Enjoy your bitters!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The Sanity Inspector on September 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
I resubmit my review, to link with my current list.
The "failed Southern lady" sets off into history, searching out other members of her own kind. This results in some intriguing character sketches of people like Ambrose Bierce, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dian Fossey, and other famous people-haters. She verges on preciousness in places, as in the interweaving of Nixon's career with a poem by a French courtier. But the book is full of her acidic well-readness, and is endlessly quotable. The introduction is a great exposition--maybe the only one in popular literature--one what makes and what does not make a misanthrope. Enjoy your bitters!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Aristotle on July 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. If you have had too much PC or have had it up to here with cloying sentimentality, or you just had too much "other people", get this book. If you like Dorothy Parker, H.L. Mencken, Ambrose Bierce, Grouch Marx, etc., you will love this book. Miss King spares no one and pulls no punches.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
Miss King's most cogent point about misanthropes might be missed if the reader revels only in the humor of With Charity Toward None: Misanthropes are truly the humanitarian sort. With the exception of Rousseau, most of them mind their own business and leave well enough alone. They also "live and let live" in the truest spirit. What a blessing if the rest of the "altruistic", "people-person" types would only do the same. Miss King presents an unexpected primer on how to treat people by using the inversion of the expected lessons on doing good for others.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
How can a book about misanthropy be joyful and life-affirming? Because Florence lets you know you're not alone. It can be pretty discouraging when everyone you know wants you to smile and be optimistic at all costs. Florence's devastations of the incompetent are the very definition of "catharsis." Mencken, whereever he is, must be green with envy.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Skubinna on February 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
Florence King is brilliant, she is one of my all time favorite people. It's unjust to characterize her narrowly as an author or commentator or critic... therefore the all inclusive "people." In a perfect world, she would live on one side of me and Camille Paglia on the other, and P. J. O'Rourke would drop by often and I would just sit and listen to them. Like Ms. Paglia, Miss King arrows right past the phoney facades and self justifications too many of us use and lays bare the basic hypocrisy most of us disguise as deep concern and high principle. No self serving politician would dare presume to "feel her pain," she'd snap him off at the ankles and rightly so. In her acerbic prose and painfully accurate observations is a simple creed: leave people alone, don't meddle, and don't claim higher motives than you in fact possess. She is a libertarian in the best possible sense, in the "Mind your own business, keep your hands to yourself" mode proposed by P. J. O'Rourke. Plus, she's funnier than a... oh, I don't know, it would depend on how much you valued whichever particular ox she was goring. Actually, I suppose we can be glad so many of us are pompous, self serving frauds, or else we'd be deprived of the delight in watching Miss King deftly and mercilessly dissect (vivisect?) such humbugs. She's in no danger of running out of material, let's just hope she doesn't get tired of exploiting it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Blue Sage on April 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I appreciate Miss King's book more and more with each passing year, particularly since reading Anneli Rufus' Party of One. Miss King's fond look at misanthropy is scholarly, witty, and exhilarating. Those who don't "get it" can go join the other watery moles in the corner.

With Charity Toward None is highly recommmended for desert islands or that solitary cabin up near the Canadian border.
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