- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (May 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385484046
- ISBN-13: 978-0385484046
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,678,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hard Left Hardcover – May 1, 1996
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Kirkus Reviews
Liberal pulpit-pounding from a young master of the exploding what's-wrong-with- America genre. ``People are tired of being preached to, from the Left and Right,'' talk-radio host Smiley observes. That said, he does an awful lot of preaching in this short book, in which he aims to convert his audience to Democratic populism through a mix of folksy exhortation (``well, we'd darn well better raise our voices quickly before the rhetoric of the Right overwhelms us all'') and broad-view oratory (``whites today weren't responsible for slavery. But they have indirectly benefitted from the racial inequality and economic injustice that arose out of it''). In measured moments, Smiley offers sensible observations on the desirability of consensus-building and unification; drawing on his background as a poor black in a largely white area of rural Indiana, near the national headquarters of the KKK, he insists that people of all ethnicities can get along and form an equitable political coalition. He also gives credit where it is due, allowing that when conservatives ``talk about the moral fabric of our country being torn apart and the need for a return to family values, they are right.'' Still, for Smiley the left is the Democratic Party, the right the Republicans, which leaves an awful lot of political territory unexplored, and he is too obviously impressed by his own influence (``the real power in this country today is in the media,'' he avers) to be entirely convincing. Some of his facts are questionable, too--he claims, for instance, that while smoking kills half a million Americans a year, illegal drugs produce only 3,000 deaths, which seems a gross undercalculation. But no matter: Smiley is on a roll throughout this book, and his enthusiasm for his cases bears his arguments along even when pure logic doesn't. In the end, the preaching is directed to the choir, no matter how good the oratory may be. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Tavis Smiley is the liberal's answer to talk radio conservatives. Smiley routinely takes on the political right and beats them at their own game. In Hard Left he presents an impassioned polemic that will shape the Democratic platform and the political debate at the Summer 1996 Democratic and Republic National conventions. Those on the left have a radio personality with fresh ideas to counter the outrageous barbs of conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh who have cowed Capitol Hill and dominated talk radio. Smiley (who is himself an articulate Black man) is particularly harsh on Black conservatives like Ken Hamblin and Armstrong Williams (who he feels have betrayed the Black community). But Smiley isn't afraid to take on traditional politics-as-usual liberals as well. Smiley says it was the liberals' determined refusal to acknowledge the flaws of social programs and policies (from affirmative action to welfare) that gave conservatives the opening they needed to rechart the nation's course. Now, Smiley warns, that course has taken America dangerously close to the rocky shoals of the extreme right. Hard Left is a clarion call for liberal politicians and leaders to pick themselves up off the ground, tear a page out of the conservative playbook, and counter the conservative offensive by tackling the political and racial issues that go to the core of our society. Hard Left is a welcome contribution to today's national political dialogue! -- Midwest Book Review
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Top customer reviews
A number of the 1-star reviewers here complain about "emotional arguments" (since emotion is not a part of humanity to be considered or discussed) or the lack of pages of extensive empirical data are missing the point. It's "Straight Talk" to regular Americans, not a statistical study and presentation. There's no shortage of books you could find in that vein. The form here is conversational, the way people talk to each other one on one. In this form, the book makes its' points well and is worth the read.
Following the general "I'm a liberal, hear me roar" rhetoric which has only grown more virulent with the election (and probable re-election) of Bush, Smiley lets his readers know that angry white right wingers are only out done in their evil destructive ways by those gross and disgusting black conservatives, which, Smiley calls an "oxymoron".
In other words, there really can't be anyone that's both black and a conservative, that would be an illogical construct, probably invented by evil whites, but he didn't actually say that, no, but he did write that they only got to where they are because white conservatives wanted to exploit them. Poor Powell, Rice, Watts, Thomas, Sowell and others.
Smily does have some good things to say. He believes (or at least did in 1996) that we ought to shut down the borders to illegals, deport those that are here now illegally, stop allowing so many immigrants to come here just because of family connections (they should be admitted because they have good work skills he proposes) and finally he proposes sanctions against employers that employ illegals.
Wow, for a minute I thought I was reading a conservative book. Look, now I know why I haven't heard of this guy before today, he'd never make it in liberal politics today, gosh, even a conservative espousing those views on immigration couldn't get elected. He also wrote that we ought to be able to cut down some old growth trees if it would help people and create jobs. Yeah, that'll go over with well with his fellow liberals, putting people over trees, wait, he's a racist and wants to ruin the environment, maybe he's really a white conservative Christian in disguise.
This reminds me of something I learned a good deal about in Tammy Bruce's book The New Thought Police. The left has no room for opposing viewpoints. And, ironically, Smiley, in this book, contends that one of the huge problems of the right is that the right doesn't allow dissension or drifts from the "party" line. It was the GOP that had speakers at its convention that are publicly known for being pro-abortion. Quickly, name the speaker at the Dems convention that is anti-abortion. Perhaps Smileys' contention might have been more true 8 years ago, but today, he's 180 degrees backwards.
I did get some enjoyment out of this quick read (about three hours or so) because it showed me the viewpoints of someone that had a proud "African America Liberal" label. I'm sure some of these viewpoints have evolved since the writing of this book, never the less, it was eye opening.
He believes that a black marrying a white is a betrayal and that nothing could be more harmful to the black community. Then he trashes Partrick Buchanans concerns about the diluting of the European blood in America. I had to laugh. As a white Christian conservative I'd like to think that I'd marry someone that was both a Christian and a conservative because those are my values, but that I'd not give a thought to skin color. I guess that makes me a racist too.
That reminds me of the other funny thing Smiley talked about. He thinks we conservatives are, or would be, angry at Asians if racial preferences were dropped at places like the UC system here in California (because they as a group stand to gain the most ground). God, that's a funny one. All of my Asian friends from high school went on to college and better jobs than me. God bless them. I'm the first to admit they worked harder than me in school, were more dedicated to the idea of college and were more supported by their families (in regard to college). I never once felt the "system" was against me, I made my own choices. I once met a refugee from Iran, a sweet woman that barely escaped with her family, she told me that she was denied entrance to a UC school because Persians are classified as white. It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.
I believe that Smiley makes a great case in his book, a great case for staying a strong conservative and fighting for conservative causes, that is. I do recommend it a little bit, for those that are interested in the feelings of an angry African American liberal that was happy O.J. Simpson got away with killing a couple of whites, this book will fit the bill.
Thanks, but we don't need a liberal limbaugh.
Something fresh is in order.
Why is his opinions so important? Maybe his prose would be worthy if he looked at the whole picture. His writing is his opinion. Readers buy books of quality. This is not quality it is meant to brainwash the mis-informed. This book is written like a mad man wrote it. Read at your own risk. A real waste.
And Tavis Smiley views of his race is a real disgrace.