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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name?
We live in an age in which one of the most odious incarnations of Groupthink prevails in the guise of a sort of pompously irrelevant, ultra-conformist and self-serving progressivism. Cohen is unpopular in some quarters. He's unpopular with the more nauseating school of moral relativists and with people whose point of view is a dismaying collection of second-hand,...
Published on 31 Mar 2009 by Stephen M. Harris

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars waiting for the etonians
I like the drift of this collection of articles but I am uncertain of where the writer is coming from. Obviously from the left but he lacks the self awareness and honesty he demands from others. Supports the invasion of Iraq for humanitarian reasons but does not mention 300000 deaths and the resulting chaos left behind. His reasons for taking his stance are undeclared. I...
Published 12 months ago by rexyrooster


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars waiting for the etonians, 23 Aug 2013
I like the drift of this collection of articles but I am uncertain of where the writer is coming from. Obviously from the left but he lacks the self awareness and honesty he demands from others. Supports the invasion of Iraq for humanitarian reasons but does not mention 300000 deaths and the resulting chaos left behind. His reasons for taking his stance are undeclared. I remain a member of the liberal left despite his diatribe against them.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name?, 31 Mar 2009
By 
Stephen M. Harris (bristol) - See all my reviews
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We live in an age in which one of the most odious incarnations of Groupthink prevails in the guise of a sort of pompously irrelevant, ultra-conformist and self-serving progressivism. Cohen is unpopular in some quarters. He's unpopular with the more nauseating school of moral relativists and with people whose point of view is a dismaying collection of second-hand, predictably and consistently irrational off-the-shelf bigoted rants that you can hear being spouted from atop any soapboax in Hyde Park [or, if you like, in a lecture by Germaine Greer or Professor Terence Eagleton] any day of the week. Not that you'd want to subject yourself to a barrage of cant and meaningless twaddle, but that's what's largely on the menu.

Unlike the output of the people who dislike Cohen, Nick's flawless writing is rational, humanist, sane and logical. Moreoever, it provides a vast amount of entertainment. I have lots of books of articles I might have read in the press. Waiting for the Etonians belongs with this small quantity of superior books - Orwell's collected works being an example - and these are the only ones to keep. Who cares if you have read bits and pieces before? The best writing is always worth re-reading. Nick's book is priceless.
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm..., 28 April 2009
I generally have a lot of time for Nick Cohen: I'm one of those socialists who is aghast at the way the post 9/11 'left' has lost its moral compass. However, I've just got this book, and the first chapter I turned to was the one on fox-hunting. Even though I know - sadly - he shares his hero Orwell's loathing for sandal wearing vegetarians, it's an issue I'd have thought would still push many of his buttons - a wealthy elite using PR spin and massive media and political influence to remain above the law, even -hilariously - using cultural relativism - a Euston Group bugbear - to bring the likes of The Guardian on side ("we are an oppressed minority group, so our culture must be respected!"). Alas, no -none of this gets a mention! Instead, he swallows the Countryside Alliance line wholesale (pest control? Is that why they have articifial earths? Is that why they caught hares in Norfolk for the Waterloo Cup in Merseyside? Is that why they introduced foxes to Australia? C'mon!). He then goes on to 'argue' that, because someone has defected from an anti-hunt group to a pro, that 'proves' the anti case was bad and the pro is in the right: by that reasoning, George Galloway and a large chunk of the middle-class so-called Left's move from Left to Theocratic Right 'proves' that feminism and gay rights are a mistake! Blimey! It's a chapter so devoid of intelligent analysis, facts or reason, that it makes me wonder about the factual accuracy of chapters where he's discussing something I know less about! Yes, I'll read the rest of the book - but cautiously.
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54 of 74 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the cover beware!, 30 Jan 2009
I'm bewildered how Nick Cohen and his publishers got away with selling and promoting this book without violating some kind of truthfulness law. Basically it's a reprint of his articles in various papers over the last few years - yet absolutely nowhere on the front cover does it say that, nor did it in the Observer when the first article was published, under the guise of it being 'an extract from the book'. It really does feel like a huge con.

When I got the book home and started reading it I was angry to discover I had been duped - I don't buy books to read recycled articles, many of which I've already read in the Observer.

So buyer beware - this isn't anything other than a bunch of old, sometimes out-of-date, articles reprinted.

The problem with writing short pieces for newspapers is that, sometimes, they're not as crafted as beautifully as they would be for a full-length book. Many of these pieces feel like they've been rushed off to hit a deadline and squeezed down to a specific number of words to fill a predetermined space slot.

Whilst I agree with Nick Cohen on much of what he says (and I never thought I'd say that, but in the light of the global slump that's taken place over the last few months I, like many on the left, am now feeling very foolish and want to re-assess) if he had written the book that he says he has on the cover, I suspect he would have had a much more successful tome on his hands.

I would urge his publishers to get one of their staff to rewrite the copy on the cover, should it go into reprint, to make clear exactly what the hapless buyer is actually getting.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope, 25 Jan 2013
By 
Gavin Russell (Horsham, England) - See all my reviews
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As a disenchanted Tory, this book (and What's Left)have knocked me out with great truths and revelations that I could sense over the years but have been able to articulate and argue only in the most incomplete way - a tiny voice in a terrible wilderness. The suspension of judgement amongst our Liberal/Left has flowed through everything they have had power over, to my enormous frustration. Now that Nick has given me the key, I feel so vindicated and informed. Testy intellectuals will have no problem in dusting me off but now I know that I was right all along. Nick Cohen is vital to us all!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radical preaching, 10 May 2010
By 
J. Jenkins (Dudley Port, England) - See all my reviews
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I started reading Nick Cohen's essay collection when 'Waiting for the Etonians' was a pretty fatalistic declaration. Cameron had a huge lead in the opinion polls and leftists were wondering where it all went so wrong. The post-electoral wrangling still looks likely to annoint fresh faced Dave, although the ballot didn't see the wholesale rejection of Labour many expected.

Waiting for the Etonians paints the left as a pretty much spent force, with Cohen observing the successes of the Tories largely through the prism of what he sees as the left's failings. The biggest bone of contention for most readers is likely to be what Cohen sees as the Left's retreat into moral relativism in the face of extremism and totalitarianism. As someone who supported the Iraq War, it's a view I have some sympathy with. However I think Cohen's argument is compromised in a couple of ways.

Firstly, he insists on viewing fundamentalism as exisiting in a vacuum, he states it is too easy to 'pretend that Islamism is is merely a reasonable, if bloody response to be legitimate concerns that could be remedied if we elected wiser leaders'. But seeing fundamentalism as a theology that attracts followers partly due to social and political problems that can be remedied is not the same as being an apologist for it's most vile tenets.

Secondly, such is the violence of the Left's betrayal for Cohen that he often resorts to hysterical, venomous dismissals of detestable 'liberals' who 'boast of their independence of mind (yet) turn into a gang of screeching children' when confronted with a contradictory opinion. It's a hectoring, rhetorical approach unlikely to win many new converts. It's a shame, as I suspect Cohen's views on Islamism are largely on the money.

I felt physically relieved to get to the later chapters, where Cohen gets stuck into banks, consultants and corporations. I realise it isn't Cohen's job to make me feel comfortable, but I at least felt the previous chapters had been written by a man who remains a leftist, albeit one with a major grievance, rather than someone now keen to dismiss the entire left as an outdated irrelevance.

Elsewhere, Cohen writes convincingly and appositely on the current trend to try to identify criminality in those yet to commit a criminal act, and the medicalisation of social probelms, despite the odd lapse into tabloid unpleasantness, (mentally ill Barry George is 'a nasty piece of work').

At his very best though, as when spending time in an immigrant staffed London kitchen, Cohen does indeed recall the Orwell (sorry to bring up that name again) of Down and Out in Paris and London and the like, and it is with subtlety and empathy that he makes his arguments most convincing.
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16 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Paradox of Cohen., 11 May 2009
By 
Mr. M. Goold (Nottingham) - See all my reviews
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I've admired Cohen for some time, as a journalist who has been a scrutineer of the seismic yet underreported shifts in political thought for many years. I have often been knocked ideologically from a previous stance to a more, and I use this phrase in the spirit he would not balk from , Orwellian sense of reality. He has been a careful analyst of the workings that drive policy, skillfully dissecting the underlying, unspun, motives behind the mechanics of the post-1997 watershed that have now left us in the state we find ourselves in now, the Brownian Immobility.

The Etonians are indeed waiting in the wings, ready to return us to a hierarchy that even Macmillian would have been surprised by. But the blame he apportions to a 'liberal' intelligentsia: the anti-war feelings, the hubris that refused to admit during the boom years, the sense that Israel is solely a battleground between agenda-hidden anti semites and a rather Bushist 'freedom-lovers', has slipped into the realms of US shock-jocks, Hitchens-lite (and when I say Hitchens, take your pick, both work)and Rob Liddle-friendly daftness. The hubris, sadly, is centred round Cohen.

His stance on the Iraq invasion was convincing, but has ultimately proved to be his undoing. Like many supposedly left-leaning writers, he tried to sex it up with the romanticism of the International Brigade, without acknowledging that one was an ideological, direct response against tyranny and the other was a gung-ho, ulteriorally-motivated act of aggression. The defence of Israel, portrayed as a war between a marginalised standard bearer of democracy against a malign fundamentalist opposition is the type of polarising opinion that has led to the extremist postions now apparent in both states. Throwing in the tired accusations of anti-semitism to anyone who dares oppose his position is frankly offensive.

I shan't be as cruel to dwell on his performance at the Orwell Prize Shortlist, a journo deserves to make the most of free booze, but Cohen, like David Arranovitch, like Christopher Hitchens, like Mel Philips, is on the slippery slide of tired leftist hack who after years of seeing his opinions get refused entry into the concensus has a mid-life crisis and decides to subvert again, by attacking his 'own'. As such, he is coming across these days as convincingly as the middle-aged, middle-class, middle-management idiot who woos his secretary with his freshly-bought Ferrari.

New blood is needed in left-leaning journalism. Let it flow.
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13 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5-star, 23 Feb 2009
By 
Edward West "Ed West" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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I think the sub-title gives it away that it is a collection of essays. I've read most of the Observer ones already but well worth re-reading. if I was of a Hindu persuasion I might believe that Cohen is George Orwell's reincarnation, so inciteful are his words. he's also one of the few writers who can appeal to both left and righties.
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17 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and insightful, 2 Feb 2009
Just to correct the silly one star review. Aren't reviews meant to be on content alone, not packaging? As content, yes it is collected articles from the New Statesman, the Observer, and others. But they do have a coherent theme and they are nearly all brilliant analysis, written with great skill and passion. Unless you have read all Cohen's pieces and committed them to memory, this is essential!
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A latter day George Orwell, 15 Mar 2009
By 
Alexander McKay (Edinburgh UK) - See all my reviews
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Once again Nick Cohen blows the cobwebs from the hypocrisy of the British Left and says what was crying out to be said.
Orwell would have approved, I can offer no geater compliment.
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Waiting for the Etonians: Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England
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