07 May 2012

Review: The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas
The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas by Jonah Goldberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liberal Fascism is an essential book for me. While Jonah Goldberg is probably viewed by most as a humorous ideological columnist, it showed a lot of academic chops and resulted in a book that was more necessary than I think a lot of people expected. The Tyranny of Cliches is a follow-up that, while having no chance of coming close to the heights or relevance of Liberal Fascism, has enough quality moments to warrant space on my bookshelf.

Goldberg is truly at his best when he's working with information as opposed to working with ideology. With a book like The Tyranny of Cliches, however, the battle is over ideology, so a good portion of the book ends up being bogged down in the type of ideological stuff that I've been hesitant to read in book form as of late. When it comes to discussions of history and information, however, this is where Goldberg truly shines, as he's able to dissect the argument he's fighting against with a lot of skill and nuance.

The book does feel overlong, in part because the overarching theme of the book doesn't lend itself to an extended narrative or chronology. That's not a bad thing in some cases, but it can result in some tiring passages, especially if the topic of the moment is less interesting than other. This is, in part, a complaint about not liking what the book is as opposed to how the book executes it, but it should be noted nonetheless.

No one else is doing it quite like Jonah Goldberg right now, and it's to be commended for it. I still recommend Liberal Fascism first, but this is also worth your time for some conservative rebuttals to the arguments that too often make it into the public sphere.

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