May 4, 2010

Intellectuals fly again!


As noted earlier in this MobyLives post, Ron Rosenbaum wrote in Slate that Melville House ‘s Flight of the Intellectuals by Paul Berman, harkens back to the glory days of the lefty intellectual battles that raged across the pages of Partisan Review and Dissent Magazine.

And in this review in the New York Times, Dwight Garner (who would not have been out of place referee-ing those battles) agrees, “Those Partisan Review fights got serious, and so does this book.”

Berman’s contention in Flight of the Intellectuals, that Western intellectuals and journalists have been remiss in thoroughly knowing their material when it comes to Islamic extremism, and thereby creating intellectual alliances that are against their own Enlightenment principles, is indeed a contentious one. And many major journalists, academics and newspapers take it on the chin, in Berman’s telling. Including the New York Times.

All of which makes Garner’s praise of the book in the Times that much more welcome. He declares that “this bracing and volatile book is an important one and devastating in its conclusions about the secret history of some Islamists….”

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.