A reader writes:
Fine to toss the lion's share of blame for "Going Rogue" at the feet of Jonathan Burnham and Roger Ailes, both of whom have clear-cut mercenary reasons to publish what Claire Berlinski, reviewing the book for "The American Review," calls "a series of bromides, one after the other."
But please save a morsel or two of blame for Adam Bellow, the book's editor and the Anakin Skywalker of conservative publishing. I worked with him years ago at The Free Press, a right-of-center imprint (then owned by Macmillan) that had a reputation for putting out brainy, wonky books by the likes of George Will, Charles Murray and Francis Fukuyama. Adam was not only the son of an American literary titan and Nobel laureate, but, in his own right, a thoughtful, self-effacing intellectual who longed for a smarter, saner conservatism that could challenge the ideological excesses of the resurgent left, newly emboldened by the election of Bill Clinton.
I'm not sure when or where -- or why -- Adam went off the rails.
Of Sarah Palin's book, Ms. Berlinski writes that "no one involved in creating this memoir felt it necessary to make her words memorable. Nor did they make her sound wise, self-aware, thoughtful, adult, educated, or even plausible as a fictional character." Without mentioning Bellow by name, she points out that her editor either didn't notice, or didn't care, that an exchange between Todd and Sarah misquotes what is arguably the most famous passage in the English language. (Todd refers to "darts and arrows" when he almost certainly means to invoke "slings and arrows.") Adam Bellow could have fixed this in two seconds with his red pencil, saving his author from herself -- and I'm fairly certain that his author wouldn't have bristled. (She probably wouldn't even have noticed.) The Adam Bellow of the early 1990s would have done so without hesitation; he would have been horrified, in fact, to let a mistake like this go to print. But the current Adam Bellow was either too lazy, or too preoccupied with other matters, to remember his primary duty as an editor.
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