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Forgive Us Our Spins: Michael Moore and the Future of the Left Hardcover – August 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
No, this is not yet another demolition job by a petty critic of Michael Moore, exposing to horror his errors and contradictions with the aim of toting up his moral worth. Nor is it a hagiography of Moore as working-class hero.
It is interesting to see Jesse Larner actually defending Moore from various right-wing silliness. Larner agrees with many of Michael Moore's values, perhaps more than Moore himself, because he pays close attention to how well they are served in the changing American climate. But after much research, Larner does not find Moore to be a useful or honest advocate of these values.
Larner is a great story-teller, with a keen eye for telling events and humorously appalling details. Moving along through a hundred compelling and verified incidents, Moore's story unfolds with balance and perspective, and not a single trace of malice. Larner does not rub his hands with glee when he discovers that Moore is an American success story who keeps his place through calculation and a chillingly self-regarding coldness, and that his written and movie work is distinguished not only by playfulness, but by considerable lying and cheating. Up to now, when others have found inaccuracies and willful distortions in his work, Moore has brushed them off as right-wing vilification or says his movies are made to be only entertainment. But Moore makes serious claims for his work; he wants above all to be taken seriously, and Larner grants him his wish more fully than he himself could imagine.
One of the book's charms is that Larner indefatigably informs himself about the subject-matter of each of Moore's movies in turn.Read more ›
So it was with interest and a degree of relief that I read Jesse Larner's biography-cum-political commentary - a critique from the left - on Moore and the American left. I'd bet it will stimulate a lot of thinking and discussion among people hungry for a genuine approach to developing progressive American positions.
Larner writes in a fluent, accessible style - and while documenting some of Moore's less savory approaches to both film-making and politics, he maintains an appreciation for Moore's strengths that's a nice counterpoint to the unsubtle and dishonest behaviour he details.
Finally, the book offers thoughtful (though depressing) insights into the current position of the American left.
Larner is persuasive in delineating some of Moore's deceptive methods. Example: Contrary to the whole implication of "Roger and Me", Moore did indeed interview Roger Smith of GM - and at length. As Larner suggests, this and other misrepresentations (like the obvious distortion of depicting happy Iraqi children in Saddam's Iraq, pre-war) serve to give ammunition to the Right and detract severely from his cause.
But in the end I was disappointed with this book since it fails to give Moore enough credit for the enormous success he has had in shining light on injustice in our country. At the end, my clear impression was that Larner basically supports our war in Iraq and can't forgive Moore for "Fahrenheit 9/11".
So read this book, if you wish, but then do as I did and also read "Citizen Moore" by Roger Rapoport, another liberal. Rapoport also describes Moore's shortcomings, but he does the great service of quoting both people who know Moore, like Ralph Nader, and Moore himself at great length. He editiorializes very little and lets the reader sort out for him/herself the strengths and weaknesses of this very talented and complicated man.
But this book is not really about Michael Moore. It is about us. It is about a political debate that "is couched in terms of blind ideology"; about a culture that prefers the simple, emotionally satisfying story about "good and evil" to an honest analysis (or even an assessment of our own interests). In such a political culture, when the time is right (and after the 2000 Election, 9/11, and the Iraq War the time was very right indeed), a Michael Moore, an Ann Coulter, and many, many others find a receptive audience, can become quite wealthy and can come to "represent their" side in the popular imagination, at home and abroad.
And that, as Larner points out is destructive indeed. It is destructive in the first instance to "their side" but in the long-term it is destructive to the whole point of politics which is supposed to be about reasonable, pragmatic compromise. And so I highly recommend that you read this book. Not so much for what it says about Michael Moore but for what it says about us.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I finished reading this book before the recent revelations that the insurance industry coordinated an attack on Moore. Read morePublished on July 11, 2009 by Tom Markus
Is it possible to be a liberal and still not like Michael Moore? Yes, and Jesse Larner shows how. Larner shows Moore to be a deceptive, dishonest propagandist. Read morePublished on August 26, 2008 by J. Davis
Jesse Larner has a great knack for describing the ebb and flow of American life, as wonderfully illustrated by his earlier book on Mount Rushmore. Read morePublished on November 3, 2006 by Paul Willen
Forgive us our Spins is not just a book about Michael Moore. It is a book about the state of the left in America. Read morePublished on September 22, 2006 by N. Thompson
An exceptional read. The author uses Michael Moore as a lens through which to identify how political dialogue has been co-opted by strident theatricality on both the right and the... Read morePublished on September 9, 2006 by Regina Walker