Sean Gabb reviews William Safire on Eloquence

I’m feeling bitchy today. Here is a review I wrote many years ago. It still brings a twisted smile to my face.

My own estimate of the book, I regret, is less flattering to Mr Safire’s vanity. I find it perhaps as worthless a performance as has yet been reviewed in these pages. It is defective alike in scholarship and in taste. I am astonished at the time and money wasted on its production. If I felt the least concern for the environment, I might shed tears for the acres of forest cut down to supply the press on which it was printed….

via Free Life 19, November 1993, Sean Gabb Reviews \.

10 responses to “Sean Gabb reviews William Safire on Eloquence

  1. All i needed to read was that Mr Safire thought that the Emperor Justinian was in Rome to know that his opinions on historical matters are not worth paying any attention to.

    How the devil did such nonsense get past an editor?

  2. Beat me to it, CH. Such a mistake is totally unforgivable.

  3. William Safire was a distinguished columnist and writer. He died a few years back. He was the quintessential Washington insider, and he could be very funny and insightful concerning American political life.


  4. Tony Horlicks, I love the way you use the phrase a ‘quintessential Washington insider’ as if it were some sort of compliment, rather than the insult it should be.

  5. Anyone who relies on Wikipedia to make their point is a fool.

  6. But I wasn’t making ‘a point.’ I was providing background.


  7. @C H
    Tony is a very old friend. He likes sometimes to take what people might think are contrarian positions on things, to see what you will do next.

    But often, he actually believes what he is saying and can argue for it. So you have to decide which statement represents what….

    I don’t think the leftists actually have the sort of problems we libertarians do, at all. They just go out and kill, as ordered. A much simpler way to change the world (although, of course, wrong…)

  8. I have Sean’s original review copy of the book. He presented it to me with a most theatrical flourish, while announcing its complete worthlessness. I was so deeply touched by his generosity that I came close to weeping.

  9. Oh, did I give it to you? I thought I’d dumped it in a charity shop or sold it for the price of a tenth of a pack of ciggies. You really should throw it out after all these years.