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A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Political Corruption and American Cultureby Alexander Cockburn
Synopses & Reviews
Alexander Cockburn was without question one of the most influential journalists of his generation, whose writing stems from the best tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Menchken and Tom Paine. Colossal Wreck, his final work, finished shortly before his death in July 2012, exemplifies the prodigious literary brio that made Cockburn’s name.
Whether ruthlessly exposing Beltway hypocrisy, pricking the pomposity of those in power, or tirelessly defending the rights of the oppressed, Cockburn never pulled his punches and always landed a blow where it mattered. In this panoramic work, covering nearly two decades of American culture and politics, he explores subjects as varied as the sex life of Bill Clinton and the best way to cook wild turkey. He stands up for the rights of prisoners on death row and exposes the chicanery of the media and the duplicity of the political elite. As he pursues a serpentine path through the nation, he charts the fortunes of friends, famous relatives, and sworn enemies alike to hilarious effect.
This is a thrilling trip through the reefs and shoals of politics and everyday life. Combining a passion for the places, the food and the people he encountered on dozens of cross-country journeys, Cockburn reports back over seventeen years of tumultuous change among what he affectionately called the “thousand landscapes” of the United States.
"Cockburn, a radical journalist and Nation columnist who died in July 2012, casts a jaundiced, jolly eye on passing scenery in this stimulating if erratic miscellany. In these short, sharp pieces, Cockburn (Corruptions of Empire) covers 18 years of U.S. politics and history, from Monicagate through Occupy Wall Street; recounts travels through America; eulogizes family and friends (and damns nemesis Christopher Hitchens for 'constant public drunkenness and brutish rudeness'); and expounds his idiosyncratic version of left-wing politics. Cockburn issues his usual scabrous denunciations — of American military adventures, Wall Street, every Democrat from the Clintons to the 'slithery' Obama, and of anyone who was spineless enough to vote for them. Meanwhile he embraces gun culture and conservative populism, which he finds more temperamentally congenial than the politically correct left in the U.S. Cockburn's stylish prose is full of erudition, ribald gossip, and pithy insight, but under hard scrutiny, it's not always convincing, reliable, or coherent. He calls Gerald Ford 'America's greatest president' and swats down dubious conspiracy theories only to float his own. (He blames ex-New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's call-girl scandal on a right-wing plot.) No matter, Cockburn's gleefully contrarian punditry makes for an entertaining read. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Alexander Cockburn was one of the most influential journalists of his generation. As the Atlantic noted, he was a towering figure who "would say all the outrageous things his bland counterparts lacked the wit, courage, erudition, or épater-spirit to utter on their own."
In A Colossal Wreck, written prior to his death in July 2012, Cockburn reveals his great literary spirit, incisive reading of the situation, and campaigning vim into a single volume that will undoubtedly be seen as his masterpiece. Whether ruthlessly exposing the hypocrisy of Washington from Clinton to Obama, pricking the pomposity of those in power, or tirelessly defending the rights of the oppressed or silenced, Cockburn was the most gifted contrarian of his generation.
About the Author
Alexander Cockburn was the co-editor of CounterPunch and the author of a number of titles, including Corruptions of Empire, The Golden Age Is in Us, Washington Babylon and Imperial Crusades. Brought up in Ireland, he moved to America in 1972 writing for the Village Voice, the Nation and many other journals. He died in July 2012.
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