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Peace Kills: O’Rourke at His Best

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Peace Kills

A Riot.

O’Rourke delivers some of his best stuff in Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism. In this book, long-time traveler and heavy drinker turned fake family man P.J. O’Rourke writes about his visits to Terrorist hot-spot Egypt; he discusses nation building in Kosovo; he walks in recently conquered Baghdad; and he takes on hippie protestors marching in Washington D.C.

P.J. O’Rourke has authored numerous works of this kind; they’re basically the observations of a storied traveler pretending to be a serious journalist in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Some of his other work in the arena includes Holidays in Hell and All the Trouble in the World. It almost makes the reader wonder what P.J. did to make his assignment editors so angry. That’s what also makes most of his works so much fun, O’Rourke approaches deadly situations with humor and pith.

In the funny department, this is O’Rourke’s best work. His opening essay discusses why Americans hate foreign policy. This essay has got to be the best work ever for P.J. It is so dense, nearly every sentence brings either a thought or a laugh, and despite how funny the essay is, O’Rourke finds truth. Americans do hate foreign policy, and we should. O’Rourke also dissects the stances of other nations, and makes a humorous case for unilateralism.

However, O’Rourke doesn’t live up to expectation. The final essay of the book, the climax, his description of conquered Iraq, is a huge letdown. I doubt it’s for any fault of O’Rourke’s, he just wasn’t exposed to anything more exciting than aid-truck queues. This is still a must-read, and it beats any of O’Rourke’s other travel tales of mayhem.

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About Marty Andrade

  • Rick Johnson

    Rarely has reading O’Rourke ever been a
    letdown. He is consistently funny and/or
    thought provoking. Even though I don’t
    agree with a lot of his political views,
    he puts them across in such a way as to
    at least get me thinking that being a
    Republican isn’t necessarily a bad thing
    or evil incarnate.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Is there a difference between PJ OR pre-clinotn or pre-9-11 and post-clinton or post 9-11.

    I used to read him in Rolling Stone (before it became Playboy in the early 1990s) and despite rolling my eyes at exaggerations he was very funny.

  • http://www.communistvampires.com Thomas M. Sipos

    Back in the 1980s, I tried to get through REPUBLICAN PARTY REPTILE, but aside from his essay on Hollywood culture, I found the book to be BOOOOO-RIIIIING!

    O’Roarke came across like some sophomoric pre-adolescent eating his own boogers in a desperate attempt to shock his elders. Just trying too hard to be funny.

    And yet, there was also a dishonesty to his writing, a pulling of the punches so as not to offend. Like he wanted to enjoy a reputation for being outrageously offensive, but without actually offending anyone who might hurt his career.

    Mostly I remember his saying he was a Republican who like to drive fast while having oral sex and doing drugs and alcohol. It was like he was saying, “See, I’m not really a Republican, I’m actually quite liberal in my attitudes, so please don’t hate me Rolling Stone readers.”

    There are a lot of shock jock pundits who take on attitudes for career reasons, but don’t really mean it. Morton Downey was one. I suspect Ann Coulter is another. By being extremely and offensive, she turns herself into a clown who will no longer be taken seriously. After that, she knows she can safely cash-in by saying anything, and still be forgiven.

    Ayn Rand called it the “court jester syndrome.” Court jesters were permitted to say anything, even to the monarch, and be forgiven because they’d already established themselves as a fool.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    In this book, long time traveler and heavy drinker turned fake family man…

    Is it only in the book that O’Rourke has these characteristics? (I have never read his stuff, either in Rolling Stone or his books.) He sounds like a conservative HST.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    O’Rourke is a moderate conservative and generally just level headed. He’s a former hippie who turned right politically not so much on social/moral issues, but on economics and libertarian issues – pretty much like me. For an idea of his background read Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut. For a look at his general philosophy I’d recommend Eat the Rich.

    Anyway, if you want to read O’Rourke at his absolute best, the book reviewed here isn’t it, though it’s still a good read. Go look for a copy of Holidays in Hell for something relatively a-political and showing off his skills and insight beautifully.

    Dave

  • Nick Jones

    I remember him writing for National Lampoon in the early Seventies, where his favorite topics were teenage girls, liquor, and fast cars – especially all three at once.

  • http://damsite.blogspot.com david mazzotta

    DrPat:

    PJ replaced HST at the Foreign Affaris desk at Rolling Stone some years ago. They are actually exact opposites, although they professed mututal admiration.

    HST looked at the normal world through the eyes of a whack job. PJ looks at a whacked world through the eyes of a normal person.