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Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Essays and Provocationsby Henry Fairlie
"All...is written with a tinge of regret. I came greatly to like Henry the man (without illusions) and to admire Fairlie the writer (with reservations). But journalism is a funny thing. It is, after all, journalier, or ephemeral, so that what seems best on the day it appears will often not last, and vice versa." Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Harper's Magazine (read the entire Harper's review)
Synopses & Reviews
Henry Fairlie was one of the most colorful and trenchant journalists of the twentieth century. The British-born writer made his name on Fleet Street, where he coined the term "The Establishment," sparred in print with the likes of Kenneth Tynan, and caroused with Kingsley Amis, among many others. In America his writing found a home in the pages of the New Yorker and other top magazines and newspapers. When he died, he was remembered as "quite simply the best political journalist, writing in English, in the last fifty years."
Remarkable for their prescience and relevance, Fairlie's essays celebrate Winston Churchill, old-fashioned bathtubs, and American empire; they ridicule Republicans who think they are conservatives and yuppies who want to live forever.
Fairlie is caustic, controversial, and unwavering — especially when attacking his employers. With an introduction by Jeremy McCarter, Bite the Hand That Feeds You restores a compelling voice that, among its many virtues, helps Americans appreciate their country anew.
"A native British wit expresses an adopted American ebullience in this sparkling collection of political journalism and commentary. Fairlie (1924 — 1990) migrated from London to the U.S. in the 1960s, where his writings in the Washington Post, the New Republic and elsewhere both celebrated and pilloried the American scene. The unstuffy Brit applauds America's informality, its gadgetry, its abundance and vastness, and its personification in a cowboy-poet named Hooter he meets in a Mankato, Minn., bar, but he's appalled by its politics. An avowed Tory in Britain, he discovers conservatism's Reaganite version to be 'narrow-minded and selfish and mean-spirited'; he duly eulogizes FDR, attacks George F. Will and denounces government bashing as 'the sneer of patronizing and vaulting privilege at the needs of ordinary people that can be served only by government.' Whether stomping on the 'dangerous insects' in the Washington media corps or defending his beloved Scotch whiskey against the Perrier water fad that prompted 'the abandonment of... a wholesome and convivial liquor for a suspect Gallic product,' Fairlie's elegantly pugilistic prose still feels fresh — and surprisingly relevant to today's politics. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"McCarter offers Fairlie in full, as far as is probably possible." Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
"Henry Fairlie was always an inspiration: a rebel, a Tory bohemian, an Oakeshottian, a conversationalist and a merry drunk. He cared more about America than most Americans and wrapped it in a Burkean passion few can equal. This book brings him back to life 7mdash; and reminds me why we need his like today just as urgently as ever." Andrew Sullivan, senior editor, The Atlantic
About the Author
Born in England, Henry Fairlie (1924 - 1990) was a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines including the Washington Post and the New Republic. He was the author of The Seven Deadly Sins Today and other acclaimed books on politics and culture. Jeremy McCarter is a senior writer at Newsweek. He lives in New York.
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