Peter From-Maidstone

Reader’s Review: Delightfully mean, but not a meaningful delight

Reader’s Review is a new feature here on the Spectator Book Club, and one which is rather self-explanatory. The idea is that, perhaps every fortnight or so, we shall publish a book review by a reader of the website. The first, below, of P.J. O’Rourke’s Don’t Vote…, is by Coffee House regular Peter from Maidstone (his online pseudonym, of course). Our gratitude goes out to him. If you would like to contribute a review yourself, then just email Pete Hoskin (phoskin @ spectator.co.uk) for details.

I wouldn’t normally read, let alone buy, a book with a beaming American on the dust jacket, especially an American wearing a blue blazer. But then I wouldn’t normally buy a book with a picture of anyone involved in politics smiling at me. It just isn’t a laughing matter. Perhaps it is another of those differences between the Americans and the English? Get beyond the cover and there is actually a great deal of interesting and insightful political comment in this latest volume by P. J. O’Rourke.

The various chapters are clearly based on speeches and articles which O’Rourke has produced over the years, and which he freely indicates in his acknowledgements. This results in a degree of repetition of similar ideas and not a great deal of connection between the chapters. Nevertheless, the book is divided into three sections which deal with O’Rourke’s ideas on political theory, political practice and some concluding thoughts.

It seems to me that he is best when talking about political theory, and the first part of the book is the most interesting. He rapidly demolishes any notion that politics is a means of solving the world’s problems, or could ever be. It is all about power, freedom and responsibility.

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