Far from Complete: Great Books Missing in the Kindle Format
■ The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana, by Peter Hitchens: Written by the conservative brother of the late Christopher Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain starts with one of the best juxtapositions imaginable to explain today’s England, and the culture it replaced. Hitchens compares the sober stiff-upper-lip response of British citizens to the 1965 death of Winston Churchill, to the mawkish insanity that swept the nation from top to bottom, when Princess Di was killed in a car accident in 1997. Diana was photographed looking glamorous in receiving lines next to Eric Clapton and George Michael; all Churchill did was win World War II. Examining the intense contrast of the British people to these two deaths is the first step to understanding how radically British culture had changed. Given how America’s own culture is changing (even as we were impacting Britain’s), England's horrific recent welfare riots, and President Obama’s seeming urge to transform America into England, this book seems more timely than ever.
■ Coloring the News: How Political Correctness Has Corrupted American Journalism, by William McGowan: In 2010, McGowan wrote Gray Lady Down, a devastating indictment of the decadence and intellectual sloth that transformed the New York Times from a paper that in the early 1970s was praised by no less than William F. Buckley for its straight-shooting lack of bias, to its current far left incarnation. But over a decade ago, McGowan wrote Coloring the News, which explored the corrosive effect of political correctness on the news industry in general. Or as former Timesman John Corry noted in his 2001 article on Coloring the News in National Review:
Liberal delicacy has its moments. Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., once paid the Most Reverend Prophet Alpha Omega Bondu $12,000 in state funds to drive the evil spirits from a Haitian psychiatric patient who had hacked his girlfriend to death. The Rev said the patient was afflicted by seven evil spirits, and that he had chased away four. Alert to cultural sensibilities, however, the New York Times declined to call this an exorcism; it reported that the $12,000 had been spent on "religious counseling."
As an example of journalistic malfeasance, that may not be much; by Times standards it's nothing at all. But it does hint at the problem: Whole groups and classes of supposedly oppressed people — voodoo priests among them — must be presented sympathetically in news coverage. Few in our major news organizations admit this, however, and even if they acknowledge the existence of P.C. journalism, they seem to believe it is practiced only by others. In fact, however, virtually everyone obeys the rules of the dominant P.C. culture, and makes news judgments accordingly. A dissenting judgment will be dismissed automatically as uninformed or wrongheaded, but it may also be denounced as a sign of racism, misogyny, or homophobia.
Think of Coloring the News as the liner notes for Tom Wolfe’s recent Back to Blood. Political correctness has only accelerated in newsrooms in the years since, making Coloring The News’ absence in the Kindle format another disappointment.
■ American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, edited by Bruce Frohnen: Published in 2006, this is a mammoth 1000-page tome, with entries on everyone who was anyone in the conservative movement, from pioneers and fellow travelers such as Albert Jay Nock, William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Ayn Rand, all the way to Jonah Goldberg, all the way to Pat Buchanan. It’s a useful bookshelf reference, but given its size, rather unwieldy. Why not give it an update to reflect newcomers since the original version was released (Breitbart, Palin, Allen West, the Tea Party, etc.) and offer it up electronically?
■ It Didn’t Start with Watergate, by Victor Lasky: One of the best political books of the 1970s, and a useful counterweight to so much of the reporting from that era, which acted as if corruption in Washington began with the arrival of the Nixon Administration in 1969. Used copies are available via Amazon, but this really ought to be in Kindle format, as a reminder of how little has changed inside the trench warfare of the Beltway, in the decades sense. I know I’d reference it early and often in blog posts.
■ Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, by Paul Harrington: OK, this last title is included just for fun –- but I really would like to own a copy on Kindle, if only to keep my copies of the original book free from spillage. For reasons known only to themselves, Hot Wired, the mid-1990s Internet spin-off of Wired magazine, had a superb cocktail-oriented sub-Website, run by master mixologist Paul Harrington. The site featured beautifully written descriptions of the featured drinks, handsome illustrations of the drinks in context, a searchable menu, and definitions of the some more obscure terms of bartending. Unlike many cocktail-themed Websites that seem to think that alcohol began when James Bond or (more recently) Don Draper ordered their first Martinis and Old Fashioneds, Harrington traces the lineage of many of the best drinks back to Prohibition, the 19th century, and in some cases, even earlier.
Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, the 1998 hard cover compendium of the Website’s contents (portions of which can still be accessed via the Wayback Machine), now goes for insane prices on Amazon. But its publisher would sell lots of new copies if they updated it for the Kindle, especially if there were plenty of hyperlinks added to easily maneuver around the book.
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Well, that’s my list of books that are missing on the Kindle -- at least for now. I’d love to look back in a year and find all of these titles available electronically, and this entire article thus rendered obsolete. In the meantime, though, what books would you like to see in the format? Perhaps Amazon or those who own the copyright to them will read this article and its comments section, and respond accordingly.