Monday, October 13, 2008

Please Don't Remain Calm

Provocations and Commentaries
Michael Kinsley

Back in the dark ages of the 1990s, Michael Kinsley was Pat Buchanan's punching bag on the CNN news-talk program Crossfire. The show was so archaic in it's format that the two adversaries would often be seen to smile at one another and shook hands publicly on many occasions.

Kinsley left Crossfire to become the editor of a newfangled magazine on your screen called Slate, something invented by Microsoft. He has since written for real newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and even Time magazine.

Please Don't Remain Calm is a collection of some of Kinsley's writings for all of these various publications dating from 1995 up until 2007. I would guess that another collection won't be appearing until some time in 2020. This will give you plenty of time to work your way through this one.

Many of the early pieces are quite clever and stand the test of time better than a stained blue dress. It is interesting to look back and remember how worked up we all were over issues that seem, frankly, to be trivial by today's standards. Midway through the book we are introduced to the misadventures of George W Bush. Things I would rather forget are on almost every page from that point on.

The book's title is derived from a piece written in 2006, reflecting on the actions of the passengers on United Flight 93 on September 11th 2001. Kinsley concludes that, unlike those passengers, he would have followed instructions and stayed in his seat. I'm not so sure. Those were a random group of ordinary people and hey acted as they did. Why not any other random group, even one including a journalist and bon vivant.

Generally I don't consider these collections of editorials as real books, and this is no exception. It was a bit like reading an out of date blog, except for the anachronistic use of paper as a medium of expression. And no YouTube videos.


  1. I think I'll stick to the political blogs and discussions. They are more live wire.

  2. thanks for the review. sounds like a good read.


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