29 March 2006


I'm an intellecutal snob who reads high-toned magazines that often print reviews of not just one book, but some little cluster of two or three books. Usually, they will be books on closely related subjects—say, Rennaisance Danish painting and Rennaisance Danish poetry, they reflect different sides of the same movement, blah blah blah. Occasionally they will go for something craftier, looking for insight that comes out of a comparison of tangentially-related books—say, a book of Rudyard Kipling's poems and a book about the war in Iraq, you can compare the ideas of the British Empire and the American Empire, ho ho ho.

These latter efforts can be intellectually thrilling, either because they provide real understanding or because they just make the reviewer look very, very clever. More often they're really just a portmanteau article that doesn't gain much from the juxtaposition. And sometimes the joint-review technique seems forced.

But via Big Media Matt, I learn of a review that outdoes 'em all: Mike Ames' "Black metal nation: What do Norwegian dirtheads and Richard Perle have in common?", a joint review of Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind and An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by David Frum and Richard Perle.

I'd put it more in the "make the reviewer look very, very clever" category than the "provide real understanding" category ... but it isn't entirely without insight.

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