The Nation magazine is playing a trick on me. I regularly receive a lot of books, since publishers know I review many and they’re hoping I’ll respond by writing up the one they are pushing. Many are conservative books; others histories; others simply by publishers who know I’ve written on a topic that their new book covers.
But until now, Nation Books, an imprint of the Perseus Book Group, has never sent me one of the books by any of their left-wing authors. But two days ago, I received a copy of Peter Dreier’s new book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. Dreier is the E. P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College, and happens to be one of the main characters of Stanley Kurtz’s new book on Obama’s radical redistributionist plans for a second term (he has an entire section).
I know why I received the book. Dreier, a man I have met personally and who is a good friend of a good friend of mine, sent me a nasty e-mail a few years ago. He went bananas after I wrote one of my critical articles about Pete Seeger (one of his heroes in the new book) and told me that not only was I one of the worst people on earth, but that he knew that the only thing that got me up in the morning was the desire to drive to Wal-Mart, shop there, and hence oppress the poor. I responded to him that he should complain to his other great hero, Bruce Springsteen, since just that week the singer had announced that his new CD would be exclusively sold at Wal-Mart! I then got in my car and, to make myself feel good, drove to Wal-Mart and did some grocery shopping.
So the reason I got the book — I know how publishers and their publicity departments work — is that Dreier asked them to mail it to me. Expecting me to take the bait and attack the book, he could then come up with a line for an ad: “The reactionary right-wing writer Ron Radosh hates this book, so you know it has to be good,” or something along those lines. So, indeed, I accept the challenge, and henceforth will make some serious observations about what Dreier has written.