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Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses Hardcover – May 12, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Dalrymple writes a clear and considered prose that makes him formidable indeed. (David Pryce–Jones Book Review Digest)

Theodore Dalrymple has succeeded (once more) in publishing a book that is both thoughtful and absorbing. (Paul Hollander New York Sun)

The brutal, penetrating honesty of his thinking and the vividness of his prose make Theodore Dalrymple the George Orwell of our time. (Denis Dutton, Editor Arts and Letters Daily)

His gift for storytelling will keep readers turning pages. (The Christian Century)

Theodore Dalrymple is the best doctor-writer since William Carlos Williams. (Peggy Noonan)

There is so much learning and unconventional wisdom in it that you want to make the reading last. (Norman Stone)

Theodore Dalrymple is the Edmund Burke of our age.… Our Culture, What's Left of It is not simply an important book, it is a necessary one. (Roger Kimball)

Dalrymple's moral courage shines through the most. Compelling reading; highly recommended. (Library Journal)

Engrossing. Dalrymple is intelligent, witty, uncommonly perceptive about human affairs, and scathingly honest about human folly. (Edward J. Sozanski The Philadelphia Inquirer)

It's rare for someone to produce a work on social issues that is so readable. (Kevin Walker Tampa Tribune)

Insightful....[Dalrymple is a] profound British social critic. (Thomas Sowell, Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University Nationally Syndicated Columnist)

Striking. Most collections of essays are lackluster affairs, but Dalrymple's is an exception. (Jacob Heilbrunn The New York Times)

Penetrating analysis and literary eloquence make the book a worthy read for anyone concerned with the fate of civilization. (Andrew Martin Courier–Journal)

The manner in which Dalrymple wields his critical scalpel fixes our attention…he makes no promise to fix our condition. (Jay Martin Antioch Review)

It's rare to find such a morally coherent, historically informed and human account as Our Culture, What's Left of It. (Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse Town Hall)

Whether you find Dalrymple refreshing or infuriating will depend on your political point of view. Dalrymple calls them as he sees them, and there is not an ounce of political correctness in him. (Bruce Ramsey The Seattle Times)

Ridiculously prolific and a favorite of bloggers.... He's one of the very best social critics of our age. (Brothers Judd)

The book is elegantly written, conscientiously argued, provocative and fiercely committed...measured polemics arouse disgust, shame and despair: they will shake many readers' views of their physical surroundings and cultural assumptions, and have an enriching power to improve the way that people think and act. (Richard Davenport–Hines Times Literary Supplement)

Theodore Dalrymple makes a devastating diagnosis of liberalism's recent ills. (Randy Boyagoda Globe and Mail)

Dalrymple has acquired a following on the sarcastic right; if anything, the thoughtful left should be reading him." (Geoffrey Wheatcroft Newstatesman.Com)

Terrific.... Dalrymple is direct and his judgments are so true. (Stanley Crouch New York Daily News)

An unexpectedly moving illustration. (Stefan Beck The New Criterion)

[This book] depicts the crucial problems in western culture in beautifully rich prose. (Gregory L. Schneider Topeka Capital–Journal)

Dalrymple is able to say things with an authority few have. (Michael Platt Society)

The sobering, fiery and ominous truth. (Stanley Crouch Tulsa World)

This highly intelligent and perceptive writer never hesitates to 'tell it like it is'. (Angela Ellis-Jones Salisbury Review)

These bracing essays horrify, irritate, enlighten, amuse. They also stir you to remember, as Dalrymple puts it, what we have to lose. (Roger Kimball New York Sun)

Read the words of a man who has been on the street...who brings a vast intelligence to his conclusions. (Stanley Crouch Independent)

A clear-eyed assessment of the human condition at the beginning of the 21st century. (H. J. Kirchhoff Globe and Mail)

Surgically incisive essays by a British psychiatrist who deserves to be considered the George Orwell of the right. (Charlotte Observer)

Dalrymple paints a chilling portrait of what is happening these days in France. (James K. Fitzpatrick Wanderer)

Another classic book...by Theodore Dalrymple. (Thomas Sowell, Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University Post Chronicle)

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a psychiatrist and prison doctor who treats heroin addicts. He writes a column for The Spectator of London, contributes frequently to the Daily Telegraph, and is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal. He lives in France.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; First Edition edition (May 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566636434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566636438
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.3 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels in real life) has been viewing the bottom of British culture for many years as a psychiatrist and social commentator. As a psychiatrist, Dalrymple practiced in a prison and at a hospital in Birmingham, England. Nearly all his patients are from what can be fairly considered the "lower class" in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.

These are the people who have been destroyed by the well-intentioned, but intellectually empty theories of the socialists and social reformers who believed they were delivering people from want, but in fact created a true dystopia. By making sure everyone could have a roof over their heads, food on their tables and changes in their jeans without lifting a finger, but by taking from the fewer and fewer productive people in English society, an underclass was created. With no reason to exert themselves and a popular culture that literally urges an endless regime of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (or its equivalent), Dalyrmple has witnessed the destruction of English character.

Rampant alcoholism and drug use; increasing illegitimacy; children raised without any form of parental supervision or guidance; the destruction of traditional mores and respect for law and more; a refusal to see the dangers of failing to insist upon the assimilation of foreign, even hostile, immigrants and more are contributing to the deterioration of English society. By implication, Dalyrmple makes it plain that this same kind of social destruction will soon infect and ultimately destroy all the Western nations.

Dalyrmple offers no nostrums, no cures or panaceas. He is a reporter, not a reformer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Theodore Dalrymple is widely traveled with an incredible exposure to other cultures. One of his essays concerns the problems of Africa and is the best thing I have read on that sad state of affairs.

I am also a physician and have a good acquaintance with city hospitals in America. Things have not got so bad here but some of the trends are not good. My British friends do not believe that it is as bad there as Dalrymple describes but one, a famous surgeon in London, has expressed alarm at the number of young women medical students who are converting to Islam. These are not the children of immigants. What an educated women would see in Islam is a mystery to both of us.

This book of essays has already predicted the subsequent riots in France. His picture of the inner cities of England is worrisome. These children who are living such self-destructive lives are not the great grandchildren of slaves. They are the products of progressive education and the welfare state. Some of the same pathology he sees can be found in "blue state" cities in the US where wealthy progressives live in guarded enclaves while violent slums occupy most of the rest of the city.

Other reviewers have complained that Dalrymple does not offer solutions. We in America have an advantage here. We are still the most religious society in Christendom. Traditional values hold sway in "red states." We have an active conservative movement demanding school vouchers for poor children trapped in hellish schools. Some trends here are reversing the pendulum from license back to sanity. Rudy Giuliani used the "broken window" theory of civic governance, mentioned by Dalrymple in one essay, to get control of New York City. Home schooling and vouchers offer an alternative to progressive education.
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Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to write a review of this book without appearing ridiculously gushing. It contains some of the most profound literary, cultural and political comment that exists, and is rooted in extensive experience as a prison doctor in the UK and elsewhere which most left liberal pundits would avoid like the plague. Extreme independence of mind, sharp observation and deep humanity all combine to produce a truly indispensable book.

Addendum: Mr Bourne in his review grabs the wrong end of many sticks. Perhaps he should play fewer computer games (see his other reviews) and get out more often. He claims that "penury and depredation" existed before the welfare state: so what?

Contrary to what Bourne says, Dalrymple does not blame modern art for the failure of civilization. However, he does link the nihilism of Brit Art with the dominant cultural ethos of modern Britain, which is hardly controversial, an ethos which is apparent throughout popular culture, all the universities and even the dumbed down BBC. Dalrymple understands, on the basis of his experience of the world, and his profound knowledge of the cultural and scientific heritage of the West, now routinely denigrated in...the West, that culture is all important. Once that's gone, we are lost.

Dalrymple is criticised for relying on "personal experience" with little data. This criticism is often made of Dalrymple by people who have no or little experience of anything, and therefore do not value experience. It is also made by people who seem to think that only pseudo-scientific sociologists wearing white coats and armed with meaningless charts and graphs, can offer an "objective" view of society. This is a deeply philosophically illiterate view.
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