WRITERS AND POLITICS by Conor Cruise O'Brien


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Conor Cruise O'Brien is a persuasive, cultured, and exasperating spokesman for the New Left. In this collection of random essays which have appeared over the last ten years in such publications as The New Statesman or The New York Review the reader is continually charmed by the intelligence and style of O'Brien's writing and continually dismayed by the slippery politics on which so many of his opinions rest. This is especially true when he deals with certain aspects of the Cold War (e.g. his silly baiting of Encounter magazine, or his brilliant but one-sided discussion of Whittaker Chambers), as well as when he tackles the problems of the UN, the Congo, Ghana, the French Communists, American liberalism, Orwell and so forth. On each of these subjects he is incisive, frequently provocative and always au courant: he was, after all, officially involved in the Katanga debacle and is now Chancellor of the University at Accra. Thus one receives intimate disclosures, sympathetic Understanding and, alas, considerable socialist pussyfooting (the viewpoint expressed in the Introduction is a classic example of this). O'Brien is non, communist not anticommunist, and his insistence on such a stance produces a good deal of Sophistical, certainly self-conscious, reasoning. The ten pieces on Ireland, his native land, are quite fine, and others on Camus and Sartre, or Michelet or some modern literary critics, offer characteristic felicities and faults.

Publisher: Pantheon