(By Tucker Carlson) (2021)
An anthology of magazine pieces by Carlson, author of the fairly recent Ship of Fools, serves not so much as exhibits for an argument against the decline of journalism; rather, as the author points out in an introduction, they are historical markers from times when political differences were perhaps more nuanced, less toxic and bellicose than our present discontent. Or, to put it another way, it is “a collection of nostalgic writings that underscore America’s long slide from innocence to orthodoxy.” (We’re not so sure about innocence, but still).
From abortion issues to cancel culture, from the hubris of Washington activist lawyer John Banzhaf and short grabs about James Carville, Ron Paul, John McCain, George W. Bush and lesser mortals such as Mike Forbes and Bob Smith, to trips to Liberia with Al Sharpton or to Iraq with U.S. contractors, Carlson is always witty, folksy and very often on target. His piece on Trump in January 2016 correctly identified his electoral appeal, and came to the heterodox conclusion that he could win (something this column also concluded a few months later).
Off politics, he also has some reflections on the amusingly perverse (Hall of Lame, telemarketers, the aesthetic of British Colonialism), the quirky (The Self-Revealers, Potato-cannons (and other dangerous toys), the maître d’ of “The Palm” in D.C., the elusive ‘Derek Richardson, working a summer job at a baked bean factory), or the moving things in life (the sad decline of Hunter S. Thompson, One Man’s Treasure). Whilst there are no deep insights here (it is magazine journalism after all), the collection is easy to read and a good general snapshot of thirty years in society, well worth a look.