A wide-ranging book of interviews with famous conservatives.
This otherwise evenhanded collection opens on an off-putting, confrontational note. In Prelutsky’s (Conservatives Are from Mars, Liberals Are from San Francisco, 2006) introduction, he claims that many New Yorkers, Californians and MSNBC fans “have never actually met a real life conservative.” (On the back cover, he claims that no group of Americans is as “vilified” as conservatives and accuses “the left-wing rabble” of calling them “fascists” and “racists.”) But readers who push past these partisan broadsides will find an often compelling selection of interviews featuring a broad range of voices from the right. Prelutsky impressively scores Q-and-As with real Republican heavyweights, among them former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He also includes fun cameos by conservative entertainment icons, such as Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, actor Scott Baio and Saturday Night Live alum Victoria Jackson. Refreshingly, the author doesn’t dwell on overtly political topics, and he’s not looking to bait his subjects into Democrat-bashing—though some of that does occur. Instead, he asks these accomplished people everyday questions, with the modest aim of getting to know them better. Hence we learn that former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling’s favorite books are the Lord of the Rings trilogy and that the late commentator Andrew Breitbart loved the Wes Anderson–directed 1996 movie Bottle Rocket. Such facts accomplish the author’s goal of humanizing his subjects, but Prelutsky unfortunately asks the same questions over and over. He opens almost every interview by asking about the subject’s father’s occupation and ends most by asking which historical figures the subject would invite to dinner. (He also repeats questions about movies, books and other subjects.) Such a strategy may strike readers as reminiscent of a high school journalism class, and one can’t help but think that Prelutsky might have gotten better responses if he’d better tailored his questions to each of his interlocutors.
Intriguing, though often repetitive, interviews with figures of the American right.