A World Affairs Expert

>> Sunday, December 13, 2009

Someone recently recommended Tom Bissell's incineration of Robert Kaplan's literary [sic] reputation, and I can now heartily second that recommendation. For my own part, I was of the opinion that Kaplan could account for two of the most embarrassing articles ever to appear in the Atlantic, and that was before I read Kaplan's nostalgic ode to the day when Europeans could manage the gumption to butcher each other in large numbers.

On a tangentially related point (I am in no way attempting a comparison between the two), see Lance Mannion on Matt Taibbi. I will say that I think people are talking past each other on Taibbi's recent piece; the key determinant of whether you like the piece, I suspect, is whether you have a taste for the genre of polemic. It's a genre with its own rules, its own metrics of evaluation, and its own history and purpose. There's something to the idea that close fact checking of such a piece is beside the point; the genre itself tends to leave me cold, and I doubt I'd enjoy the piece very much even if it lacked whatever errors have been identified.


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