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With a Happy Eye, but...: America and the World, 1997--2002 Paperback – September 2, 2003

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fifth collection of conservative pundit Will's columns (The Morning After, etc.) shows his usual erudition (the title comes from Auden), but they seem more outdated this time around. The terrorist attacks figure prominently in an overwrought introduction ("The scream of the incoming aircraft was a howl of negation"), but most of the "current events" addressed the battle between gay activists and the Boy Scouts, pressure on members of the European Union to accept the euro, disabled golfer Casey Martin's fight to use a golf cart on the pro tour feel like curious relics of a pre-September 11 world, and his longstanding complaints about the wickedness of Oliver Stone and the decline of civilization on liberal college campuses come across as cranky grumblings. He gets in plenty of digs at Bill Clinton: "not the worst president the republic has had, but... the worst person ever to have been president"; he even finds occasional fault with George W. Bush (though the worst adjective he can think of to describe Bush's initial waffling over the Enron scandal is "Clintonian"). The final chapters are heartfelt memorials to Will's father and to columnist Meg Greenfield, but one wishes that Will had applied the level of sustained reflection they show to a fuller analysis of one or two subjects, such as the contested 2000 election or the war on terrorism, instead of the jumbled impressions offered here.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book is the seventh volume of Will's collected columns, essays, and addresses to be published since 1978. Given his fame as a syndicated newspaper and Newsweek columnist (he won the Pultizer Prize for commentary in 1976) and as a television personality (he has served as an analyst with ABC News since the early 1980s), readers come to this work with high expectations that are not disappointed. In this book, Will describes contemporary Americans as "naive optimists." Within the context of the Clinton years, the 2000 elections, and the shadow of 9/11, he opines on the inevitability of war, the necessity of the death penalty, the need for the military to remedy moral values, the fundamental flaws of a (liberal) intelligensia "too short on certitude," and his impatience with a society "too squeamish to call evil by its right name." An accomplished essayist, Will provides a model for writing that dismisses alternative viewpoints, and though his writings are valuable to readers across the political spectrum, they may leave liberals spluttering. Recommended for general collections in high school, public, and academic libraries.
Jean S. Caspers, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743243846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743243841
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,303,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy S. Burnich on November 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have never been a big fan of George Will. I had only known him as the lone conservative at the end of Newsweek Magazine. Then I saw him on Leno or Letterman and figured that someone that articulate saying things I don't like to hear must be worth reading.
I was right. "With A Happy Eye But . . ." is a glorious romp through some selected republcan rantings worth reading. Although I still do not agree with a lot of what he says, I did find that I agreed with a lot of it as well. My favorite sections of the book (and he has several by topic) were Justice and Injustice, The World, and People. I found those to be the most enlightening and most enjoyable. His section on campaign finance reform was also eye opening but the jury is still out on whether he totally convinces me or not.
Be sure to have a dictionary handy because every third essay he indroduces a new five dollar word that he will most likely use 3 to four times in other essays that follw. He uses words and phrases like crackerjack prizes - until the novelty has worn off.
All in all, a satisfying read, absorbing, and contentious.
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Format: Hardcover
George Will has written a lot of books, and this is definitely ... one of them.
What that means is that if you already have an opinion of George Will, "With a Happy Eye, But..." probably won't change it much one way or the other. His politics are much the same. His long-time concerns are still in the front of his mind. And his voice (self-assured if you like it, pompous if you don't) is as distinctive as ever. Will's fans will want to add this book to their collection. If you're not a fan, the columns here collected may not convert you.
This title helps cement Will's reputation as America's leading spokesman for (as I once heard Buckley described) "conservatism of a sort." The columns include his argument that "Capitalism is a Government Project" (p. 222), his endorsement of General Sherman's war of extermination against the South as a model for defeating terrorism (p. 71), and his defense of "the seamlessness of cultural memory" (p. 184). I was glad to see his memorable and important "Clinton's Legacy: An Adjective" (p. 237) printed here in its entirety, not in the bowdlerized form in which it appeared in several newspapers.
Given the time span this book covers (1997-2002), I was surprised there aren't more columns about the three central events of the era: impeachment, the 2000 elections, and September 11, 2001. Will wrote a lot more about them at the time, of course, but only a select few columns made the cut into this book. As in any collection, a lot of ground is covered, from politics to pop culture. Over time, many of the "news hooks" these columns are based on will fade -- if they haven't already faded -- from memory. But even then, the real value, Will's ability to articulate his principles, will stand out all the more.
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By A Customer on September 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Publishers Weekly editorial book review printed here by Amazon shows how the extreme hard core left wing detests the popularity of books with a straight-forward, consevative view. However, this book will join Coulter's and Hannity's as a best seller and for good reason - it is well written and provides a view of recent events that is not presented by ABC, CBS, NBC or many daily newspapers. This is an interesting and well written book for anyone, regardless of your political perspective. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
George Will's seventh collection of columns covers the period from 1997 to 2002, and the opening essay that Will wrote describes the prosperous "holiday from history" that Americans enjoyed until 9/11/01, when the terrorist attacks injected big, consequential questions back into our political discussions.

This collection includes more than just columns--there are a couple of commencement addresses, as well as a great speech Will delivered at Princeton concerning cultural literacy and the importance of reading.

As has been the case for decades, ethical and moral questions have abounded in American life, and some of the columns the author wrote around the turn of the century addressed issues such as stem cell research, privacy, abortion, and school prayer. Will devoted several columns each to education and to the free speech issues involved in the fight over campaign finance reform.

American conservatism lost a giant in 1998 with the passing of Barry Goldwater, and Will wrote a column remembering the Arizonan's contributions to conservatism and to the nation. Some of the other people that Will devoted columns to during these years include Princess Diana, Vince Lombardi, C.S. Lewis, John Adams, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and James Madison.

Five of Will's year-end columns are here as well, rounding out yet another great collection of writings by one of American conservatism's indispensable thinkers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
George Will's "With a Happy Eye But...: America and the World, 1997-2002" is a collection of select George Will columns during the turn of the century. (There are also a few longer pieces in the book, such as the text of a few commencement speeches he made during this time.) Most of the columns cover the hot issues of the day - Clinton's impeachment, Kosovo, partial birth abortion, education, 9/11 and terrorism - especially where those intersect with George Will's pet issues, such as campaign finance reform. There is also a collection of his "biographical" columns on famous or interesting personalities, such as Patrick Moynihan and author Patrick O'Brian. Still, reading these columns, written to advocate positions and influence readers, one can see that George Will often over-stated his position or overplayed his hand (missile defense really did not end up being the most important issues of the 1990s), but this is also a nature of the columnist.

I was also disappointed that the book did not include any of George Will's columns on the 2000 election fiasco. I remember that Will's columns during the post-election fight were, as usual, cogent, insightful, and stinging. I wanted to keep a contemporary account of this debacle, but none of these columns made the book.

Despite these minor drawbacks, anyone who is even moderately a George Will fan or a political junkie should buy this book both as a collection of his columns and a snapshot of America at the turn of the century.
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