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Anything Goes by [Dalrymple, Theodore]
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Anything Goes Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Sparklingly funny, unflinchingly realistic, and profoundly wise, these brilliant meditations on our postmodern predicament by the Montaigne of our age impart urbane pleasure and enlightenment on every page.
      --  Myron Magnet, author of The Dream and the Nightmare: the Sixties’ Legacy to the Underclass

Theodore Dalrymple is an extraordinary essayist--mordantly funny, profound, and immensely learned. In this new book, all of his considerable talents are on display as he explores the nature of evil, the dark legacy of totalitarianism, the insidious spread of politically correct ways of thinking in free societies, and many other topics. A perfect introduction to Dalrymple's thought.
         --  Brian Anderson, editor of City Journal

Another brilliant collection from our age’s answer to Dr. Johnson and George Orwell.  A feast of wit, insight, admonition, and plain old common sense.
       -- Roger Kimball, author of The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art

--New English Review

After Anders Breivik, a seemingly "normal" individual, methodically gunned down dozens of politically active young people at a summer camp in Norway the Wall Street Journal turned to the most likely person to be able to elucidate the mystery. The Journal interviewed Theodore Dalrymple, prison doctor, psychiatrist, essayist, author of over a dozen books, most of them puzzling wryly and trenchantly over the human condition and the ways in which the social engineers who have sought to improve it have made matters far, far worse.  Readers of this book of essays will not be surprised that Dalrymple offered no easy "explanation." For the  subject to which  this eclectic group of essays repeatedly returns  is evil, its fascination for us, its permutations, and ultimately its mystery, which Dalrymple believes is never likely to be resolved.

On the other hand, a few weeks later, when  rioters smashed their way through a number of British cities, Dalrymple did not hesitate to identify the "root cause." Again in the Journal--this time in an op-ed "Barbarians Inside Britain's Gates"-- Dalrymple zeroed in on the intellectuals, politicians and bureaucrats who fostered a sense of entitlement in a large segment of the population subsidized by the government in a near permanent condition of unemployment augmented by criminal activity. Such activity, up to and including murder, meets ludicrously small punishment (if any) by the criminal justice system.  Those who defend themselves are more likely to wind up on the wrong side of the law. Anyone who had read these essays  as they appeared over the last few years in New English Review (or indeed his articles in National Review, City Journal and elsewhere chronicling the British underclass) would have known such riots were in the cards.

The reader of this book is in for an intellectual feast for Dr. Dalrymple takes us on multi-level tours all of them thought-provoking. There is a tour of Europe with reflections on everything from art to arsonists, the joys of borderless travel to the losses that come from the neglect of cultural identities.  And then there is the tour of the dysfunctional politics of Western societies, with their efforts to make life free of pain which wind up making it empty of purpose, with terrible consequences.  Finally there is the tour of the soul, its mysteries, the evil which so many pretend does not exist but manifests itself in ways small and great--Dalrymple, who spent years in Africa, gives us a glimpse into Rwanda's heart of darkness wh - --Family Security Matters

After Anders Breivik, a seemingly "normal" individual, methodically gunned down dozens of politically active young people at a summer camp in Norway the Wall Street Journal turned to the most likely person to be able to elucidate the mystery. The Journal interviewed Theodore Dalrymple, prison doctor, psychiatrist, essayist, author of over a dozen books, most of them puzzling wryly and trenchantly over the human condition and the ways in which the social engineers who have sought to improve it have made matters far, far worse.  Readers of this book of essays will not be surprised that Dalrymple offered no easy "explanation." For the  subject to which  this eclectic group of essays repeatedly returns  is evil, its fascination for us, its permutations, and ultimately its mystery, which Dalrymple believes is never likely to be resolved.

On the other hand, a few weeks later, when  rioters smashed their way through a number of British cities, Dalrymple did not hesitate to identify the "root cause." Again in the Journal--this time in an op-ed "Barbarians Inside Britain's Gates"-- Dalrymple zeroed in on the intellectuals, politicians and bureaucrats who fostered a sense of entitlement in a large segment of the population subsidized by the government in a near permanent condition of unemployment augmented by criminal activity. Such activity, up to and including murder, meets ludicrously small punishment (if any) by the criminal justice system.  Those who defend themselves are more likely to wind up on the wrong side of the law. Anyone who had read these essays  as they appeared over the last few years in New English Review (or indeed his articles in National Review, City Journal and elsewhere chronicling the British underclass) would have known such riots were in the cards.

The reader of this book is in for an intellectual feast for Dr. Dalrymple takes us on multi-level tours all of them thought-provoking. There is a tour of Europe with reflections on everything from art to arsonists, the joys of borderless travel to the losses that come from the neglect of cultural identities.  And then there is the tour of the dysfunctional politics of Western societies, with their efforts to make life free of pain which wind up making it empty of purpose, with terrible consequences.  Finally there is the tour of the soul, its mysteries, the evil which so many pretend does not exist but manifests itself in ways small and great--Dalrymple, who spent years in Africa, gives us a glimpse into Rwanda's heart of darkness where friendly, normal people turned into remorseless monsters on a dime.

In one of these essays Dalrymple talks of an internet correspondent  with whom he struck up a friendship and the words well  describe Dalrymple himself: "He wrote of this and that, often of modern follies that he dissected with detached amusement rather than bitterness, for of course he had experienced a lot of folly in his time and he knew that life continued, usually with enjoyment, in spite of it."  For Dalrymple writes not only of evil and folly but of Shakespeare and fine art, of book collecting and of globalism, of religious faith (he is a respectful non-believer) and of moral ambiguity.  It is the range of his interests and the wit, style and knowledge he brings to his subjects that makes literary critic  Roger Kimball call Dalrymple "our age's answer to Dr. Johnson and George Orwell."

-- Rael Jean Isaac --Family Security Matters

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a former prison doctor and psychiatrist. He has been arrested as a spy in Gabon, been sought by the South African police for violating apartheid, visited the site of a civilian massacre by the government of Liberia, concealed his status as a writer for fear of execution in Equatorial Guinea, infiltrated an English communist group in order to attend the World Youth Festival in North Korea, performed Shakespeare in Afghanistan, smuggled banned books to dissidents in Romania, been arrested and struck with truncheons for photographing an anti-government demonstration in Albania and crossed both Africa and South America using only public transportation. He is also the author of more than two dozen books and innumerable essays.


Product Details

  • File Size: 637 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: New English Review Press (August 22, 2011)
  • Publication Date: August 22, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005II64VS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,525 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As must be obvious by now, I read everything by Theodore Dalrymple that I can find. This latest collection of his essays touches on a wide variety of subjects, including some that I have wanted to write about myself. Right up there, near the top of the list, is what I consider the major literary scandal of the twentieth century, the story of that oh-so-pretentious nincompoop Norman Mailer and how he managed to free the convicted murderer Jack Abbott, after which Abbott went and killed again --- this time a totally innocent waiter in a restaurant in a totally stupid argument. Of course, Mailer was very strange about stabbing people: he almost stabbed his wife to death ("but that's OK because he's a WRITER you see!")

A few samples of the Dalrymple wine to whet your appetite:

"There is no end to the oddness of humanity. I once had a patient who injected herself with blood that she took from an HIV positive friend of hers. She wanted the illness, too: why should her friend have all the attention?"

"I am reminded of the story of the Indian civil servant whose desk was piled high with files that were so old than no one ever looked at them, or ever would look at them. They were cluttering up the office terribly, and he asked his boss whether he could throw them away. `Yes,' he replied, `provided you copy them in triplicate.' "

"So resentment allows you to dream on about all you would have achieved if things had been different (better, of course, for no one dreams of how little they would have achieved had things been worse)."

This last thought seems particularly accurate to me: after all, no one lies around dreaming about how everything could have been worse, and how he might have been a total failure in life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second book I have read by Theodore Dalrymple. The first was In Praise of Prejudice. That book impressed me as interesting in theme but poorly argued (I have posted a review of it).
This is a much better book. Not because Dalrymple is any less of a misanthrope or because he now actually backs his arguments up with evidence or arguments. If anything, both of those qualities are even more apparent.
But this format- a collection of essays posted on the New English Review website during what seems to have been the years of George W. Bush's presidency- is much the better for displaying the charms, wit and learning of the author.
My opinions are very different from TD's (as I will call him from now on) but this book has convinced me that he would be a very interesting person to know and talk with on occasion.

Why? Because he is learned. He has an obvious and thorough knowledge of English literature and of much contemporary work in several languages. He frequently mentions books I have never heard of that sound of interest.
He is funny and frequently self-effacing. He tells some very funny stories throughout the book.
He is honest. He has studied the whole of his self including much that he admits is not admirable. This is really the only sense that one can make sense of Magnet's blurb that Dalyrymple is the Montaigne of our age but it is an important one.
He loves books. So do I. His essays on the love of books (like the one On Bibliophilia and Biblioclasm) were a delight for me to read.

Most importantly, he writes about many important themes and has some nice insights to offer on them.
I offer the example of the essay, A Strange Alliance. TD relates the story of a young friend who is thinking of joining the Catholic Church.
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Format: Hardcover
A Master Work - by a True Master of Many Good Works

Superlatives must fail, and fall panting by the wayside in the effort to catch up to Theodore Dalrymple; whose latest book "Anything Goes" has provided such a Masterful Compilation of chaptered essays on the themes of Probity, Evil, Self Knowledge and the Limits Thereof - as to place him Atop the First Rank of Living Authors; and may The Good Doctor continue in said status for a long healthy time.

I first became aware of his works when author Kathleen Parker quoted him (Frontpage-2005) in her book "Save the Males". I was profoundly impressed with his insights, and the economy with which he brilliantly conveys them - particularly as they grow ever more relevant over time and the attendant abuse by the power elites.

<<"Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.
When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity.
To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed.
A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.
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