Politics and the American Language

Reviews, Rants, and Commentary, 2011-2018
William O'Rourke
ISBN 9781566494038 (paperback)
Published in March 2020
MSRP $18.00
This new collection is O’Rourke’s third volume of a diverse mixture of long and short articles and it extends his reputation as a brilliant social historian and curmudgeonly contrarian. More political than his previous two volumes (Signs of the Literary Times, 1993; Confessions of a Guilty Freelancer, 2012), it additionally serves as an illuminating memoir of his literary generation. These provocative pieces analyze the contemporary turbulent period, from the Obama years to the dawn of the Trump era.

O’Rourke is an acclaimed novelist (Idle Hands) and nonfiction author (The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left) and he has never been shy of tackling big subjects, which he manages with acuity and finesse. He turns his perceptive vision often toward literary subjects, the ongoing abuse of language, but always places the books he discusses in a broader cultural and political context. His depictions of both lettered and political figures, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Daniel Berrigan, Donald Trump, Ken Burns, Bernie Sanders, Flannery O’Connor, are fresh and original. An informative, startling, and entertaining collection.