Books by P.J. O’Rourke

Patrick Jake O'Rourke (born November 14, 1947) is an American political satirist, journalist, and writer. Born in Toledo, Ohio, he was educated at Miami University (Ohio) and Johns Hopkins University. He confesses that during his student days he was a le


BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"As with most of O'Rourke's books, a mix of the smart and the throwaway but fairly entertaining throughout."
Noted wisenheimer O'Rourke (How the Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016, 2017, etc.) serves up a fan's notes on "a blood sport that I greatly enjoy"—namely, the dismal science of economics. Read full book review >
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? by P.J. O’Rourke
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: March 7, 2017

"It's not Hunter S. Thompson, and O'Rourke has been funnier, lots funnier—but then again, it may just be that our current political situation is no laughing matter."
Tossed-off bons mots on "this obnoxious political spectacle, the election of 2016." Read full book review >
THE BABY BOOM by P.J. O’Rourke
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Jan. 7, 2014

"'Our genius is being funny,' writes the author of his generation, but such genius is in short supply here."
What should have been easy picking for the satirist isn't nearly as funny or perceptive as his best work. Read full book review >
HOLIDAYS IN HECK by P.J. O’Rourke
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Red meat for his fans, unlikely to convert new ones."
The prolific cultural commentator offers a miscellany of (mostly) travel pieces, a follow-up of sorts to his collection of war journalism, Holidays in Hell (1988). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: June 1, 2009

"A joy ride for those who crave a Corvette Stingray or care about torque; others may want to get out at the next light."
Hard-edged humorist O'Rourke (On the Wealth of Nations: Books That Changed the World, 2007, etc.) certifies his American manliness with a gathering of automotive reveries, most of them originally published in Esquire, Rolling Stone and Car and Driver. Read full book review >
ON THE WEALTH OF NATIONS by P.J. O’Rourke
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 10, 2007

"An entertaining alternative to the heavy lifting required in confronting Adam Smith firsthand."
The opus magnum of the Scottish philosopher who defined free-market economics, usurped by O'Rourke as a matrix for social commentary and humor. Read full book review >
PEACE KILLS by P.J. O’Rourke
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 1, 2004

"From far away and within the Beltway, thoughtful pronouncements from one possible candidate for the office of Secretary of Moral Guidance and Public Relations (soon to be established)."
The senior satirist of the right returns to dissect foreign policy and—Lord help us—he seems to have moments of distinct sanity. Never mind the purposefully Orwellian title. Read full book review >
THE CEO OF THE SOFA by P.J. O’Rourke
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"Conservatively speaking, O'Rourke's current patchwork is not up to his previous entries. But as Dave Barry's goofy, evil twin, he's still funnier than Pat Buchanan or Arianna Huffington."
O'Rourke (Eat the Rich, 1998, etc.), sharpest of the right-wing comic writers—not a populous gang, to be sure—this time stays at home to deliver his caustic, frequently malevolent commentary. Read full book review >
EAT THE RICH by P.J. O’Rourke
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 8, 1998

America's leading right-wing humorist (not a very crowded field, admittedly) turns to that dismal science, economics. There's no need to find your college notes, however, since Samuelson had it all wrong, according to Prof. O'Rourke (Give War a Chance, 1992; All the Trouble in the World, 1994; etc.). The libertarian comedian first offers a succinct primer on the workings of Wall Street that is largely accurate and entirely fun. It's a difficult subject: "One minute we're loading our possessions on top of the Ford and fleeing the dust bowl. The next minute we're buying dust futures on the Chicago Commodity Exchange." So reporter O'Rourke travels, tax deductibly, to divers parts of the world to determine why some places prosper and some just stink. Albania, ruined by avarice and pyramid schemes, is awful. Sweden is a pleasant place but too socialist to make it, according to our dubious analyst. Cuba is a mess; Tanzania, another mess; Russia, a puzzle (and a mess); Hong Kong, a prime example of capitalism (but destined to be a mess); Shanghai, clean (but a financial mess). The author disses the Third World—and the Second, too—wonderfully, and concludes, like many before him, that the free market is a moral device like no other. Well-defined rules may be necessary, but laissez-faire is the ultimate answer. A nature lover chained to a tree will save one tree, says O'Rourke; a financial pirate, however, provides "schools, roads and U.S. Marines, not to mention Interior Department funding to save any number of trees and the young idealists chained thereto." (We are not told who, save the idealist, is going to divert enough from the leathernecks and the clear-cutters to save those trees). It's all selective blarney, of course, and a funny, pungent paean to the glory of free enterprise as well. (First printing, 150,00; $150,000 ad/promo; author tour; radio satellite tour) Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 12, 1994

Rolling Stone's token Republican and the H.L. Mencken Fellow of the libertarian Cato Institute, O'Rourke (Give War a Chance, 1992, etc.) has written his most sustained and well-argued book yet. O'Rourke touts the glories of free minds and free markets as we currently enjoy them in the US, despite, in his view, the current administration's effort to undermine both. He systematically looks at the issues that supposedly dog our times, combining a glance at the scholarly literature (goofing on academic prose) with fieldwork (getting sauced on five continents). There's lots of typical O'Rourke yuks: the near-libelous name-calling; the international search for good booze and pretty women; and the admitted attacks of ``troglodyte dyspepsia.'' While earnest college kids hug trees and whine about being victims, the rest of the world, in O'Rourke's eye, is determined to get rich. In Bangladesh, he considers the nature of population growth; in Somalia, the course of famine; in the Amazon, the fate of the environment; in the former Yugoslavia, the consequences of multiculturalism; and the roots of poverty in Vietnam. What's behind it all? Politics, says O'Rourke. Often the left-wing sort. In O'Rourke's jaundiced view, the ``moral buttinskis'' of the world continually demonstrate their contempt for the most obvious solution: unfettered capitalism. And he details the wonders of Third World markets by visiting the bustling bazaars of Saigon. What better way to study foreign entrepreneurship than searching for the best bars and restaurants? Only the Somalis, with their intense hatred, really get him down, as do a number of mush-brained environmentalists he schmoozes with at the Earth Summit in Rio. The perfect antidote to revolutionary tourism, O'Rourke's raucous narrative suffers from one conceptual flaw: Like many right-wingers, he forgets that regulation, reform, and butting in led to so many of our current freedoms. (First printing of 150,000; $150,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: April 1, 1992

Flush with the success of his gonzo attack on big government- -last year's Parliament of Whores—the self-proclaimed ``Republican Party Reptile'' here collects his recent articles, mostly from Rolling Stone and The American Spectator. O'Rourke finds a certain singularity of purpose in his ongoing fight against evil, which he defines loosely as communism, Iraq, and liberals. Hardly as bully or bellicose as his title suggests, these essays nevertheless take no prisoners. At his best when goofing off across the globe, O'Rourke reminds us that most of the world isn't worth visiting. Not East Berlin after the Wall came down; not Russia before and after the failed coup; and certainly not Northern Ireland, with its ``acceptable level of violence.'' In Nicaragua, O'Rourke celebrates the defeat of Ortega and his North American sympathizers, those ``Birkenstock Bolshies.'' In Paraguay, during their elections, he discovers an unlikely outbreak of democracy and freedom. And in the Persian Gulf throughout the war, he notices that it's the first conflict ever covered by sober journalists. For all the governmental silliness, O'Rourke finds lots of good cheer and patience among the enlisted men. And his post-Vietnam sensibility emerges in liberated Kuwait City, which looks like ``the fall of Saigon with the film run backward.'' The domestic enemies here include: politically correct rock-and-rollers; Lee Iacocca (``conceited big-mouth gladhanding huckster''); Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter (``prissy old ratchet-jaw hicks yammering away about nothing''); and the Kennedys (``a large and dirty family''). O'Rourke treats Dr. Ruth rather gently, while he declares ``the sexual revolution is over and the microbes won.'' Other essays chart his turn from the radicalism of his youth; celebrate cars over people; condemn drug testing; and call for a new, improved McCarthyism. O'Rourke is an antitourist of revolution, a capitalist John Reed who delights in breaking every ``rule'' of journalism, especially staying sober. You don't have to share his peculiar, right-wing politics to love his fuel-injected prose—but it helps. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 20, 1991

Is there anything funny left to say about our government? O'Rourke seems to think so, and here offers a fractured civics lesson in support of his notion that ``freedom is its own best punishment.'' It's hard to disagree with O'Rourke's contempt for the ``boring'' business of ``giving money to jerks''—the main business, he says, of government these days. But his gonzo libertarianism, while suited to the pages of Rolling Stone (where much of this first appeared), is mainly a disguise for lots of familiar right-wing nostrums. Fortunately, O'Rourke bolsters his tired rhetoric with his own brand of inspired anti-reporting, and also with lots of good old name-calling. No civic booster, O'Rourke celebrates our ``national mindlessness'' and our exceptional interest in ``the pursuit of happiness.'' Washington, though, seems dedicated to robbing its citizens, and then doling out the spoils to whoever sticks out his hand and shouts the loudest. O'Rourke's highly selective fact-gathering takes him to the South Bronx with Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa in order to understand urban poverty; to the D.C. ghetto on a crack bust to witness the war on drugs; to the Department of Transportation to appreciate the folly of bureaucracy; and to Afghanistan (almost) to see US foreign policy in splendid disarray. A stint aboard a missile cruiser reveals his weakness for big weapons—''This is the way to waste government money.'' O'Rourke saves his best shots for ``the Perennially Indignant'' among housing advocates and environmentalists, and kicks around the slimier players in the S&L scandals. But the ``special interest'' group he really slams is us, since all of us manage one way or another to stick our snouts into the government trough. If nothing else, O'Rourke has well earned his place among American humorists as the cracked voice of rock-and-roll Republicanism. Read full book review >