Books & Culture's Book of the Week: Strange Bedfellows

Christopher Hitchens and Christopher Caldwell collaborate on a collection of political writing. Has the millennium arrived unnoticed?

Left Hooks, Right Crosses: A Decade of Political Writing
Edited by Christopher Hitchens and Christopher Caldwell
Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books
352 pp.; $16.95, paper

Americans—those who care about politics, anyway—are often divided into two groups: a Left and a Right. The Left does a lot of marching, reads alternative weeklies and The New York Times, supports Democrats for public office, and accuses the right of nefarious motives and vast conspiracies. The Right, for its part, reads The Wall Street Journal editorial page, tends to vote Republican, and believes as an article of faith that the media is controlled by liberals.

Yes, these are stereotypes—stereotypes that are partly undermined by comparing the editors of Left Hooks, Right Crosses: A Decade of Political Writing—but they nevertheless contain grains of truth. Co-editor Christopher Caldwell writes in his introduction: "An evangelical drill sergeant in Texas who votes Republican and a gay social worker in San Francisco who votes Green can be fairly said to occupy opposite ideological poles." However, he continues, "Since September 11, 2001, the two of them should also realize that they are interchangeable American archetypes in the eyes of all their country's enemies, and many of its friends." Or, as George Orwell put it during World War II: "My country left or right."

This patriotic sentiment is shared by Orwellphile co-editor Christopher Hitchens, the left-wing British expatriate who recently gave up his column in The Nation because of its belligerence to the Bush Administration's "war on terror." That Hitchens was likely bound by contract to his former magazine's press, Nation Books, goes a long way toward explaining why the "Left Hooks" half of the book (the ...

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