WITH A HAPPY EYE BUT... : America and the World, 1997–2002

George F. Will, Author . Free Press $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-684-83821-2

The fifth collection of conservative pundit Will's columns (The Morning After, etc.) shows his usual erudition (the title comes from Auden), but they seem more outdated this time around. The terrorist attacks figure prominently in an overwrought introduction ("The scream of the incoming aircraft was a howl of negation"), but most of the "current events" addressed —the battle between gay activists and the Boy Scouts, pressure on members of the European Union to accept the euro, disabled golfer Casey Martin's fight to use a golf cart on the pro tour—feel like curious relics of a pre-September 11 world, and his longstanding complaints about the wickedness of Oliver Stone and the decline of civilization on liberal college campuses come across as cranky grumblings. He gets in plenty of digs at Bill Clinton: "not the worst president the republic has had, but... the worst person ever to have been president"; he even finds occasional fault with George W. Bush (though the worst adjective he can think of to describe Bush's initial waffling over the Enron scandal is "Clintonian"). The final chapters are heartfelt memorials to Will's father and to columnist Meg Greenfield, but one wishes that Will had applied the level of sustained reflection they show to a fuller analysis of one or two subjects, such as the contested 2000 election or the war on terrorism, instead of the jumbled impressions offered here. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/08/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-7432-4384-1
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