cover image American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008–2020

American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008–2020

George F. Will. Hachette, $32 (512p) ISBN 978-0-306-92441-5

Washington Post columnist Will (The Conservative Sensibility) discourses on politics, history, fashion, and science in this erudite and eclectic collection of his published columns. Will’s eulogies of conservative leaders, including presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, National Review editor William F. Buckley, and political commentator Charles Krauthammer, are particularly rich and insightful. Noting that Krauthammer was in medical school when a diving accident paralyzed him from the neck down, Will writes that “medicine made Charles intimate with finitude... the fact that expiration is written into the lease we have on our bodies.” Will also skewers President Trump (“Cry-Baby-in-Chief”) and Republican lawmakers who “gambol around [Trump’s] ankles with a canine hunger for petting,” and dismisses calls by progressives and right-wing populists (the “Cassandra caucus”) for economic reforms to better protect American workers as a desire to “liv[e] free from the friction of circumstances.” Elsewhere, Will dives into the debate over the authenticity of a photo from the Spanish Civil War and laments the popularity of jeans among American adults. Though his dismissals of climate change and economic inequality feel out of touch, Will is a consistently provocative and articulate opinion-maker. Fans will delight in this expansive survey of his recent judgments. (Sept.)