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.