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Fools' Names, Fools' Faces Hardcover – September, 1996

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ferguson views his role as a freelance journalist to be "provocative, succinct, and uncompromising" and he is exactly that in these 32 essays reprinted from the New Republic, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. In this funny, invective-filled look at the "talking heads" of American culture, he pulls no punches as he describes being a guest with alleged presidential paramour Gennifer Flowers on the Rolanda talk show; critiques Don Imus's infamous standup routine before President Clinton at the journalists' annual Gridiron Dinner; observes Newt Gingrich's exercise of power on his first day as Speaker of the House; and skewers Robert McNamara over his belated Vietnam confessions. Ferguson, an editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, takes a mordant look at Washington politics that will not go unnoticed in the upcoming campaigns.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Ferguson, an opinion columnist of conservative bent, offers recent pieces intended to ridicule egotists that we call celebrities. Ferguson calls them Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Bill Moyers, David Gergen, and . . . Andrew Ferguson. Yes, he admits to a case of self-promotional vapidity, having been a C-SPAN pundit, declaiming on topics he knew nothing about. If something is fraudulently sententious, such as a state-of-the-planet festival hosted by Gorbachev for 500 celebrities, Ferguson seems to get the assignment. His report's richest irony: Ted Turner reading an article about his own fortune, deaf to a simultaneous speech by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa asking attendees to alleviate the plight of the world's poor! Other objects of Ferguson's satire include the diversity-training industry, self-esteemism, and Washington press dinners, those self-serious affairs that shock jock Don Imus crashed to great, though sophomoric, effect. Readers reveling in the humorous derision of fads and fame will enjoy Ferguson's skewerings. Gilbert Taylor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Pr; 1st edition (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871136511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871136510
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on March 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. BROOKS: Yeah, Andy's not someone who comes out as much as some of the rest of us and just baldly declares something. His--his writing--he's a much better writer than I am, a more supple writer, and his writing leads you in different feints and the power of the writing is sometimes not clear until you read it carefully. -C-SPAN Booknotes with David Brooks, July 2000
Ever since I heard David Brooks praise his colleague so effusively on Booknotes last Summer, I've made a particular effort to search out Andrew Ferguson's stuff in The Weekly Standard. Brooks is absolutely right : Ferguson's essays for the magazine are extremely sly and they conclude with a distinctive kick, as he forcefully drives home a point you may only have been mildly aware he was making. An excellent example is Christianity, Clinton Style (Weekly Standard, September 11, 2000), in which he discusses the then President's pre-Convention public confessional at Willow Creek Community Church. This was the event at which Clinton was supposed to apologize for the Lewinsky mess with sufficient clarity that it would remove the subject as an issue for Mr. Gore in the fall campaign. In his column, Ferguson does not spare Clinton for the transparency and insincerity of the event, but it is only as you read the last sentence that you truly realize that Clinton is only an incidental target : Ferguson's real ire is directed at the brand of New Age Christianity which allows itself to be used in such a manner by a clearly unrepentant serial sinner. But when the realization finally dawns it is all the more devastating precisely because the equation of the obviously repulsive Clinton and the theoretically sacred Church is so surprising.
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Format: Hardcover
Andrew Ferguson is one of the veteran writers at the Weekly Standard and a good friend and peer in satire with P.J. O'Rourke. While O'Rourke, however, is more taken with the sharp biting and often gonzo style of a writing idol, Hunter Thompson, Ferguson is more subtle -- more understated -- but equally effective in his own right.

All in all Ferguson is a very very good writer and the collection of pieces in this book provide a good starting point -- reading his more recent WS work and his columns for Bloomberg is also recommended.

Ferguson is not an ideologue and his book pokes fun at all stripes (that is Newt Gingrich in clown makeup on the front).
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Format: Hardcover
Political humor is fleeting and the essays in this collection span the decade between 1986 and 1996. Who now remembers Gennifer Flowers, William J. Bennett and "The Book of Virtues," or Donald J. Trump?

Actually Andrew Ferguson remembers Gennifer Flowers quite well as he devotes two essays to her, and he seems to be fixated on other blonde bimbos as well, devoting print to Madonna, Mamie Van Doren, Marilyn Monroe, Morgan Fairchild and others whose names I don't recall. Here's a political satirist with an obsession, and for a change it's not the current president or the senator from New York.

There are several cheap shots in "Fools' Names, Fools' Faces." Walter Cronkite is savaged in passing, but we are never told why he is lumped into the category of "utterly vacant men." David Gergen is castigated as a "Goggle-eyed melon head" for switching from the saintly Ronald Reagan's administration to the man who did because he could, Bill Clinton. Isn't descending to nasty physical description about the same level of civilized discourse as, "Nah, nah, Johnny wets his bed at night?"

Those two quibbles aside, there's some good stuff in here. Don Imus, the radio host shows up in the essay "Don Imus's Sacrilege," not over his derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team (2007), but over his derogatory comments about the President at a Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner (1996). Admittedly these affairs are set up so that the President can be lampooned, but there are limits, and Imus gleefully trampled all over them. Good for him. I wish the author had given more detail about what Imus had said, but maybe he wasn't invited to the dinner.
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