Sunday Bookchat

May 3, 2008

Winger lies never die — they just get churned over and over.

Most of the time the lies resurface in Ann Coulter columns or the memoirs of aging conservatives, where they are seen by no one except other cultists. But every now and then, one of those lies trips up a gullible naif who thinks he’s discovered some gem of truth. So it was when Paul Berman, assigned to review Myra McPherson’s All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone for the New York Times Book Review two years ago, chose to resurrect a hoary conservative slander against I.F. Stone, the iconoclastic independent journalist whose self-published I.F. Stone’s Weekly remains a lodestone to anyone who values hard-hitting investigative reporting.

From 1953 until his retirement in 1971, “Izzy” Stone exposed the rotten underbelly of McCarthyism, challenged the lies behind American involvement in Vietnam, and covered the growth of the civil rights movement. For these offensives, conservatves repeatedly accused Stone of being a stooge of the Soviet Union, and Berman decided to recycle those repeatedly discredited accusations in his NYTBR piece. Joe Conason and Eric Alterman quickly debunked Berman’s essay, but the sandbagging could only have hurt the topic of Berman’s article, McPherson’s deeply researched biography of a journalist whose memory should bring shame to the pack of pretenders now infesting our airwaves and news pages.

McPherson’s fine book is now out in paperback– buy a copy and give Paul Berman heartburn. While you’re at it, you can read Stone himself. If you have any regard for hard-hitting journalism that emphasizes truth over spin, reporting over access, and skepticism over knee-bending acquiesence to authority, then I.F. Stone is your man.

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Laila Lalami looks at the critical back-and-forth over The Second Plane, Martin Amis’ collection of vapid rants about Muslims and terrorism, and asks why nobody’s bothered to ask any Muslim writers to talk about the book. Interesting question! Incidentally, Lalami’s first book, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, would make a fine beach book this summer. Since it concerns a group of Moroccans trying to get across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain, it is literally a beach book. And a very good one at that.

* * * * *

Catch up with the chat about Arianna Huffington’s new book, Right Is Wrong, at the Firedoglake Book Salon.  Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World will be the focus of this week’s TPM Cafe Book Club at Talking Points Memo.

* * * * *

An NRO blogger sees the handiwork of liberal conspirators in the way books are shelved at the local Barnes & Noble. If you wannabe a kid’s book author, you have to get as famous as Ginger Spice. And John Scalzi helps locate the coolest spot in your local bookstore.

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One Response to “Sunday Bookchat”


  1. [...] Sunday Bookchat May 4, 2008 I.F. Stone and a right-wing lie that won’t die, books about Muslims that Muslims aren’t allowed to review, and a Space Girl abandons music for literature. Read all about it. [...]


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