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The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism [Hardcover]

Theodore Dalrymple
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Mar 2010
Western Europe is in a strangely neurotic condition of being smug and terrified at the same time. On the one hand, Europeans believe they have at last created an ideal social and political system in which man can live comfortably. In many ways, things have never been better on the old continent. On the other hand, there is growing anxiety that Europe is quickly falling behind in an aggressive, globalized world. Europe is at the forefront of nothing, its demographics are rapidly transforming in unsettling ways, and the ancient threat of barbarian invasion has resurfaced in a fresh manifestation. In The New Vichy Syndrome, Theodore Dalrymple traces this malaise back to the great conflicts of the last century and their devastating effects upon the European psyche. From issues of religion, class, colonialism, and nationalism, Europeans hold a "miserablist" view of their history, one that alternates between indifference and outright contempt of the past. Today's Europeans no longer believe in anything but personal economic security, an increased standard of living, shorter working hours, and long vacations in exotic locales. The result, Dalrymple asserts, is an unwillingness to preserve European achievements and the dismantling of western culture by Europeans themselves. As vapid hedonism and aggressive Islamism fill this cultural void, Europeans have no one else to blame for their plight.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (18 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594033722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594033728
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 17.5 x 29 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 405,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a former psychiatrist and prison doctor. 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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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flirting with reality 5 April 2010
I can't quite get a handle on what Theodore Dalrymple is trying to achieve in his latest outing `The new Vichy Syndrome- Why European Intellectuals surrender to Barbarism'. I shall begin however by saying that Dalrymple's writing typically has much to recommend it; his deracination of Blairite welfare policies and their ugly social sequelae is at once acerbic, uncompromising and entertaining. Dalrymple's `immorality tales' published for years in the Spectator mined the rich seams of fear and loathing that bubbled beneath the council estate, shopping mall and emergency room of modern Britain. Just as Dickens projected the image of the impish, dishonest but likeable pickpocket into the 19th century British drawing room, Dalrymple forces our reluctant acquaintance with the fat, tattooed, track-suited, grandiose, pregnant for the sixth time, fifteen year old mother of four as she screams semi-literate obscenities into her mobile phone on the way to collect her benefits from the welfare office. Unlike Dickens however, Dalrymple gives us real people and verbatim conversations. Also in contradistinction to Dickens' colourful ensemble of characters, Dalrymple's subjects are almost universally charmless and un-likeable. To read his psychiatric interviews with prisoners and other assorted unfortunates is to be grabbed the scruff of the neck and dragged into the grotesque, hostile, suspicious, impulsive, self entitled and insightless mindset of the denizen of the welfare estate. Dalrymple mugs the bien-pensant with reality. He asks her to put down the Guardian arts review and the Pinot Grigio for a minute to look at the world that she has simultaneously created and disavowed. Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The New Dalrymple Syndrome 3 Oct 2010
By EiNic
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My initial introduction to Dalrymple's writing came only about two months ago when I read his excellent Spoilt Rotten - The Toxic Cult Of Sentimentality. While that particular book succeeds at convincing at least myself of its writer's many virtues and deep insights into today's society, I am somewhat left in doubt concerning this book's agenda. It seems as if Dalrymple has now succumbed to parts of the Left's ongoing doctrine of Holier-Than-Thou PC rhetoric; afraid of appearing "racist"(yes, that tired old word again), he aims at making excuses for, in particular, ill-behaved Brummie youths of Pakistani descent. Apparently, their rotten behaviour has absolutely nothing to do with their Islamic roots, and everything to do with urban life and ghetto gangster mentality. The fact that other, non-Islamic inhabitants of city slums do not practise, say, honour killings does not get any real comment from this superannuated dweller of the French countryside.
Despite Dalrymple's occasionally annoying habit of pointing out his own scholarly achievements, I still find many of his observations to be enlightening, with glimpses of real profundity present at various points in the text. No one can argue with the author's claims that it is indeed good and healthy for all people to enjoy literacy and general academic achievement; hard work and dedication are virtues to be cherished and deserve their proper place in our collective consciousness. It is therefore puzzling to discover that Dalrymple himself has now entered the sphere of dubious grammar; The New Vichy Syndrome is written in deeply pretentious American English, which makes for a most confusing read.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing 14 Oct 2010
By Steven
As someone who thought that 'Our Culture, what's left of it' was a masterful collection of essays I had high hopes for this little polemic and was prepared to excuse its rather hefty price tag. Unfortunately I was let down quite badly. The book doesn't really pursue the intriguing thesis which is stated on the front cover, in fact it's difficult to describe exactly what it does pursue since it lacks a certain coherence.
In addition to the muddled narrative the book also suffers from an excessive use of asterisks, there was usually at least one per page and often the extended clauses were quite long which dramatically sapped any momentum the chapters had managed to build up. He seemed to use these extra spaces mainly to flaunt his achievements or to relate anecdotes, and I couldn't help detecting a whiff of vanity - it would seem Mr Dalrymple has a very high opinion of himself.

The climax of the book seemed to be an account of the Armenian genocide and the role played by the French. This event may rightly be very significant to his hypothesis but for some reason he decides to give a conflated historical account of it (which in a very small book seems very odd). It felt as if he were doing it simply to show off his knowledge of French history or perhaps to reach a quota of words.

If I had to sum up this book in one word it would quite simply be 'strange'. I don't really understand what Mr Dalrymple is trying to achieve here or why he thought it was a good idea to cram the pages full of asterisks. There are snippets of wisdom here and there, but no overarching structure placing them in the context of a logical argument.
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