From Publishers Weekly
Political correctness is the principal target of this collection of columns reprinted from U.S. News & World Report . Leo contends with our nation’s more prickly social issues: censorship, racism (and reverse racism), sex education. He is most convincing in examining the politics of language, including the “three languages of addiction, victimology, and political evasion,” as well as what he calls “journalese,” “feminese” and even “Bushspeak.” Adding up the various victimized groups in the U.S., Leo notes wryly that “America’s victims exceed 1.2 billion, not bad for a population of only 251 million.” His columns offer an odd sort of moderatism, with a number of essays deserving consideration, if not agreement. However, his disregard for society’s margins seems particularly unenlightened.
From Publishers Weekly
A former writer at Time , Leo developed a following for his satiric pieces for that magazine and other media. Reprinted here are zingers from these sources, aimed at whatever tempted the journalist’s pitiless observations on society. His would-be trendy couple, Ralph and Wanda, debate changes wrought on sexual relations by the feminist movement, these notes alternating with articles such as that about America’s theft of the Soviet national sport. Leo’s attack on “journalese,” singling out oxymorons from the Pentagon (“Peacekeeper missiles,” “build-down”), calls for laughs, cheers and tears. So does his musing on Ronald Reagan who, he believes, sometimes confused the movies with real life.
From Library Journal
The 30 essays that make up Leo’s book first appeared in various periodicals, including Time, where Leo was a long-time senior writer. Name the subject–Reagan’s memoirs, modern journalistic techniques, middle-aged WASPs, sex in the Eighties–and Leo is sure to extract nonsense, delightful, warming nonsense, out of it. Leo finds it very amusing to poke fun at Anglo-American attitudes, but in so doing he never raises his voice or exhibits a trace of rancor. He does not pose or preach, threaten or demand. He simply shows all-too-human people playing their earnest games, prosecuting their common desires, following their strange fancies, and thinking themselves and their games, desires, and fancies so important. This book is for readers who prefer the subtle touch rather than humor pressed home with the whack of slapstick. K. Jason Sitewell (an imperfect anagram for “Well, it’s a joke, son”) was the pen name of an anonymous “put-on artist” who contributed to Golf Digest and Saturday Review , of which Norman Cousins was a long-time editor (and may, perhaps, be Sitewell himself). Sitewell’s contributions, some of which are compiled here, take the form of letters to the editor, essays, book reviews, and “personals.” They range from a not-so-short piece on golf and a tribute to the bagel to a letter on Quebec’s secession from Canada and a call to defeat a House resolution. An occasional dash of humor and a variety of unusual “personals” make the book readable, if nothing more. Pass-up-able.
From Library Journal (On Two Steps ahead of the Thought Police)
If satire and sarcasm could achieve victory against political correctness as easily as trumpets did against the walls of Jericho, Leo would be a modern Joshua. Those who have followed his column in U.S. News & World Report know that the annihilation of what he sees to be pomposities, fakes, frauds, and fatuities is his stock in trade. Leo goes in deep like a sharp, polished knife. The general drift of his arguments are politically and socially conservative; but even liberals should take time out to read him, if only just to discover how formidably armed the opposition is. Leo tells the truth as he sees it. It may not be everybody’s truth, but no one who reads the book will fail to be provoked and/or stimulated. Strongly recommended.