DISCRIMINATIONS by Dwight Macdonald


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A critic of literature, politics, cinema and culture, Macdonald is a celebrated master of the complete and detailed debunk. Among the series of ""impostures and vulgarizations"" he's taken on pro bono publico are Webster's Third New International Dictionary, the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1963), the fifty-volume set of Great Books. In this retrospective collection of pieces published over the span of his forty-year career he fulminates against file Warren Report, Alger Hiss, Norman Cousins (""midcult""), Tom Wolfe, Henry Luce (a former employer, when Macdonald apprenticed at Fortune) and his magazine empire (""masscult""), Hemingway, McLuhan and Mary Poppins. In more constructive moments he pays tribute to Norman Thomas (""the conscience of America"") and Norman Mailer. His commitment to negativism can lead to overkill however, as in 1941, during Macdonald's Trotskyist period, when he wrote: ""The Germans are guilty merely of doing consciously and systematically what other imperialist nations do under cover of a smokescreen of hypocrisy."" Or to curmudgeonry, when Macdonald dismissed U Thant and Buckminster Fuller out of hand for being ""the two most eminent global bores I can think of."" Yet if this presumptive stance detracts from the critic's credibility as social historian, the caustic wit it unleashes is always scrappy, original and stimulating.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1974
Publisher: Grossman