By Mona Charen
Regnery Publishing, 308 pp, 2003
I was fairly excited when this book first
came out (not excited enough to buy the hardcover, of course - I checked
this out of the library). It was about time that someone held the Left to
account for its blatant appeasement and outright sympathy for the Soviet
Union and communism.
Now that I've read the book, I hope someone
else gives it another shot.
Not that Charen does a bad job, or even
that this is a terrible book. It could have been much better, and, quite
frankly, better written.
In fact, the first two or three chapters
are so bad I almost threw the book away. The introduction contains some
truly horrid sentences. I'll share some examples:
- Page 1, 2nd sentence: "It seems
absurd to pose the question, and yet, the past decade has become so
clouded by revisionism and retroactive self-justification that a
measure of clarity on the matter has been lost." It's okay until
the end, with that unfortunate blend of two prepositional phrases
followed by the weak passive tense verb.
- Page 1, 2nd paragraph, last sentence:
"It is so obviously false that it seems unbelievable that this
theory has slid so smoothly onto the history shelves." Even
allowing for poetic license, I don't think it's possible for a
"theory" to "slide."
- Page 2, 3rd paragraph, first line:
"The end was so abrupt that it gave rise to a kind of vertigo in
the West." Can vertigo rise? I don't remember any vertigo when
the Soviet Union fell, to be honest.
- Page 3, first paragraph, first line:
"As they had one in East Berlin in 1953, in Budapest in 1956, and
in Prague in 1968, the people of Eastern Europe saw the light glinting
through the unlocked door and rushed to pry it open further."
Light cannot glint through a door, but it can glint around the door frame.
One assumes this door was closed, so how could it be pried open
"further?" Had the Commies left a door open?
- Page 4, 3rd paragraph, last sentence:
"But the fall of the Berlin Wall was such an epochal event that
the existence of distractions is inadequate to explain the neglect of
- Page 10, 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence:
"But the record of their actual positions on matters from the
nature of the Soviet system to the need for defense spending, to
aiding anticommunist guerillas around the globe, is available."
Charen does this annoying tactic throughout the book - introduce the
subject, throw in numerous little clauses, then finally add the verb
at the end, leaving it dangling and separated from its subject, so the
reader has to return to the beginning of the sentence to remember what
the subject was so the sentence makes sense.
I could go on, but you get the point.
Luckily, the writing improves by about chapter 3. It's as if the editor
skipped the first few chapters.
Once you get beyond the writing, this isn't
a bad book. Charen methodically examines the atrocious records of numerous
Communist regimes - the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua,
Grenada - and quotes several leftists and Democrat politicians who
excused, apologized for, and aided, against the interests and security of
the United States. Then, after the Soviet Union fell, they tried to tell
everyone that they were cold warriors too! Charen refuses to let them
re-write history in such a dishonest manner.
It is interesting to read quotes from
Democrats twenty or thirty years ago, because they still say the same
things today. Many predicted, for example, a "quagmire" in
Grenada or El Salvador. Where we have heard that word recently?
Charen wonders why the Left behaves this
way, ignoring the countless crimes and horrors committed by Communists
while rejoicing in the far fewer and comparatively mild mistakes made by
the United States, and concludes that the Left hates America. I don't know
if I'd go that far. I think the Left loves socialism, and communism was
the closest real-life system of implementing the worker's paradise. If the
Left had its way, communism would rule the world, and we'd all be
So my thanks to Mona Charen for tackling
this important subject. I just wish it were better written.