Mark is a little under the weather this weekend, and resting up before his live appearance in Toronto this Wednesday. But his excruciating pain momentarily lessened when he read this review of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn by Charles C W Jang in The Dartmouth Review:
If there's one anecdote I can use to illustrate Mark Steyn's writing style and worldview, there's the sinking of the Costa Concordia back in 2012. (The Italian cruise liner had ignominiously tipped over in shallow waters, after which the captain and crew fled, leaving passengers to trample over each other to claw their way out of the capsizing vessel.) Commentary columnist Abe Greenwald had written, "Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won't use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?" In impeccable form, Steyn breezily noted that Greenwald wasn't quite thinking big enough, that the disaster was a metaphor for "the fragility of civilization. Like every ship, the Concordia had its emergency procedures — the lifeboat drills that all crew and passengers are obliged to go through before sailing. As with the security theater at airports, the rituals give the illusion of security — and then, as the ship tips and the lights fail and the icy black water rushes in, we discover we're on our own: from dancing and dining, showgirls and saunas, to the inky depths in a matter of moments."
Mr Jang gives a lively overview of the book's themes, from the small-scale to the big picture:
In other cases, the signs of the age are more literal; he used America's "unending procession of bend signs, pedestrian-approaching signs, stop signs, stop-sign-ahead signs, stop-sign-ahead-signs-ahead-signs, pedestrian-approaching-a-stop-sign-signs, designated-scenic-view-ahead-signs, parking-restrictions-at-the-designated-scenic-view signs, etc." as an indicator of the lapsing culture of liberty in this country, which increasingly distrusts its own citizens in the most mundane of tasks... "On that two-lane blacktop, unlike the despised French surrender monkeys, Americans are not to be trusted to reach their own judgment on when it's safe to pull out and leave Gran'ma eating dust. Odd." Steyn also talks up the decline in our foreign policy, narrating how "for a brief period in the spring of 2003 we were the 'strong horse' and even a dainty little media gelding such as myself" was able to rent a car in Jordan and drive alone through Iraq and be treated tolerably by the locals, where today the border has been seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). "If you had asked me, in that cafe in Rutba eleven years ago … what utter defeat would look like in a single image, it would be hard to beat the scene that now greets you in the western desert: An Iraqi border post staffed by hardcore jihadists from an al-Qaeda spin-off. The details are choice — the black flag of al-Qaeda flies from buildings built by American taxpayers, they drive vehicles paid for by American taxpayers, they shoot aircraft out of the sky with Stinger missiles donated by American taxpayers — and thousands of their foot soldiers are nominally Britons, Frenchmen, Aussies, Canucks, Americans, and other western citizens for whom the open road in Iraq, decapitating as they go, is the greatest adventure of their lives."
Mr Jang says the theme of the book is "the man himself — the conservative, self-described 'nineteenth-century imperialist a hundred years past sell-by date' Canadian Rush Limbaugh Show guest host... But then again, that should be enough reason to pick up a copy." We hope you'll read the whole thing.
~If any Dartmouth Review readers are eager to hear more about The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, Mark will be discussing it in conversation with Heather Reisman at the Bay & Bloor branch of Indigo Books in Toronto this Wednesday. Full details here. For any readers in the Dartmouth College region, it's a zippy 12-hour drive from Hanover, New Hampshire, so treat yourself to a priced-to-clear tank of gas and head on over.
The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is available at all branches of Indigo-Chapters north of the border. Down south you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and even Costco. And, wherever you are, you can be reading it within seconds - via Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks. Or treat yourself to a personally autographed copy direct from the SteynOnline bookstore.