So the editors at The American Conservative have finally decided to liberate that review of my book from their firewall. You’ll recall that the reviewer—John Derbyshire, who’s a contributing editor at National Review—didn’t like the book at all. But here’s one concession he does make to it:
On the positive side, The Reactionary Mind at least does not snarl or sputter. It is a thoughtful, even-tempered sort of book. The old maid tendency that dominates liberal polemic in the U.S.—the shrieking, clutching at skirts, and jumping up on kitchen chairs that one gets from a Joe Nocera, a Maureen Dowd, or a Keith Olbermann—is quite absent. For this relief much thanks. Nor is the book as immaculately humor-free as most leftist productions….
…he really seems to harbor very little malice.
Now here’s how the editors at The American Conservative summarize the review on the front page of their website:
John Derbyshire slogs through Corey Robin’s liberal polemic.
Now I know I’ve complained a bit about reviewers not reading my book. But editors not reading the reviews they run in their pages? That’s a new one to me.
Update (4 pm)
Alan Koenig, who is a grad student of mine—and a far closer reader of texts than I—points out that in his last graf, Derbyshire does call The Reactionary Mind a “book of early 21st-century American liberal polemic.” So perhaps Derbyshire doesn’t read his own prose either? Or am I just under the sway of a peculiar definition of polemic?