Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Matthew Yglesias watches Sam Tanenhaus's book review on Jonah Goldberg:
Matthew Yglesias: If You've Got Nothing Nice to Say: 31 Dec 2007 09:04 a: I just hope The New York Times Book Review is as kind to my book when the time comes as they were to Jonah Goldberg (of course, realistically we're all just desperately hoping to be reviewed at all): "Yet the title of his book aside, what distinguishes Goldberg from the Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages is a witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults — no mean feat in the nasty world of the culture wars." Yes, that's right, Liberal Fascism is a step away from the nastiness of the culture wars. The reviewer, David Oshinsky, does concede that Goldberg's main thesis is false but that didn't seem to bother him....
I TA'd for David Oshinsky while doing my grad work at Rutgers, so I may be a little biased (he and I were probably the only two Red Sox fans on campus at the time), but I think MY misses the point a little here. It's pretty standard in writing critiques to point out the things you like about the book first before proceeding on to the problems, and Oshinsky spanks the content of the book pretty thoroughly - basically he says that it's cleverly written and fun to read but completely worthless intellectually.
The ending of the review was puzzling and abruptly shifted tone in a way that was un-Oshinsky-like, though; I suspect it was clumsily edited to soften his ending a bit. Oshinsky himself was an interesting choice for the review, since he's an expert on McCarthyism, and has built a career on the study of people who use terror and bullshit to scare their way into power.