The Page 99 Test

“Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” So said the English writer Ford Madox Ford.

Since 2007, the good people at Campaign for the American Reader have been applying this dictum to contemporary authors, asking them to turn to page 99 of their own books and then write about what they read. It’s called The Page 99 Test.

This week Campaign asked me to write about page 99 of The Reactionary Mind, which will be officially published on September 29 but is already available for purchase.

With my contribution, I join the esteemed company of journalists like Jeff Sharlet and Robin Wright, critics like Gerald Early, historians like Stephanie Coontz, Gary Nash, Jack Rakove, and Daniel Rodgers, and philosophers like Patricia Churchland.

Speaking of The Reactionary Mind, it’s too early for reviews, but it’s already gotten some attention.  Writing over at Talking Points Memo, the journalist Jim Sleeper, author of The Closest of Strangers, called it “richly meditative.” And it’s been the subject of a couple of very interesting posts by the blogger Elias Isquith, who says he plans to do more.  I hope to write about Elias’ posts at a later date, once they’re completed, but for now check them out.

The Reactionary Mind also got some fabulous pre-publication blurbs from some of the top scholars in American history (Joyce Appleby and Rick Perlstein), political theory (Alan Ryan) and philosophy (Anthony Appiah). You can find them all here.

My cup runneth…

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