Threats of Pain and Ruin Paperback – 1 Jun 2014
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Sparklingly funny, unflinchingly realistic, and profoundly wise, these brilliant meditations on our postmodern predicament by the Montaigne of our age impart urbane pleasure and enlightenment on every page.
—Myron Magnet, author of The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817
No one else writes so engagingly and so candidly about the world as it is, not as the politically correct would have it be.
— Dr. Charles Murray author of Coming Apart and The Bell Curve
Dr. Dalrymple's eye alights on a topic; his mind dissects it; his imagination embroiders it; his judgment delivers an appropriate verdict, usually condemnation; and his sensibility ensures that all these activities are conceived, argued, and expressed wittily or sadly but always beautifully.
— John O’Sullivan author of The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister
Another brilliant collection from our age’s answer to Dr. Johnson and George Orwell. A feast of wit, insight, admonition, and plain old common sense.
— Roger Kimball, author of The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art
About the Author
Theodore Dalrymple is a former prison doctor and psychiatrist. He has been arrested as a spy in Gabon, been sought by the South African police for violating apartheid, visited the site of a civilian massacre by the government of Liberia, concealed his status as a writer for fear of execution in Equatorial Guinea, infiltrated an English communist group in order to attend the World Youth Festival in North Korea, performed Shakespeare in Afghanistan, smuggled banned books to dissidents in Romania, been arrested and struck with truncheons for photographing an anti-government demonstration in Albania and crossed both Africa and South America using only public transportation. He is also the author of more than two dozen books and innumerable essays.
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This collection is published under the auspices of the New English Review where, apparently among other places, the essays appeared. They are typically Dalrymple - insightful, entertaining, conservative in outlook, and gracefully-written.
It cannot be said that all are, or pretend to be, weighty or important. Dalrymple's substantial pieces appear elsewhere than on small British web sites. The subjects here - there is no common theme - include, for example, the activities of birds, the repulsiveness of slugs, and the problems of laundering socks. He also returns to such old favorites as the pleasures of antique book stores; several essays discuss books he has found there. Some of these topics he has written about before; others do not immediately seem worthy of his intellect or our attention. All please nonetheless.
If there is a criticism it is that the reader does sometimes get the impression of a writer in desperate need of a subject. That is the nature of writers: they are driven to write and will seize on an unworthy subject rather than have none at all. The Introduction tells us that the editor of the New English Review allows Dalrymple to write about whatever he pleases. The moral is perhaps that editorial discipline is not always inappropriate.
There are a few typos, generally of the sort that eludes software. Technology has taken much labor out of the publishing process, including some that might better have been retained. On the other hand, it has also taken out much of the cost, allowing us such as this: a rewarding collection of small essays written for a small market.
My favorite writer! Anthony Daniels is his real name. I once thought I'd bought a book for armchair travel... far from it!
Zanzibar To Timbuktu...was the first surprise. This author paints with words; he's like the invisible man...he has walked through some scenes which should have evaporated him; yet he lives to tell most interesting things. Endless variety of subject; whatever catches his fertile mind. Just get his (two) names straight. Never a dull writer!
The ordinary thing (for this author) is that they're all superb. How he manages the necessary humility to avoid knowing best on every subject, heaven knows. Doctoring, most likely.
The worst thing about this collection is that it has an end. (The end seemed to contain a few typos, but what does a tired proofreader signify?)