After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery, by R Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

book coverThis book is described as “An insider’s investigation of the state of the post-Bush Conservative movement in the United States today.” Sadly, however, I found that this book fell short of that mark. Perhaps that is due to the author; R Emmett Tyrell, Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of American Spectator and it is my opinion that skews his writing.

To be sure, After the Hangover sounds good according to the front cover. And the drunken elephant looks cute. Turn to the back, and it’s a different story. Hardball’s Chris Matthews – butt of Conservative jokes – gets top billing on the ‘previous acclaim’ list, while Henry Kissinger lingers second to bottom. If that’s an example of Tyrrell’s humor, the joke falls flat.

The book is a fairly easy read. It’s full of pithy one-liners that would make for great media quotes. But you do have to wade through intellectual terms that Tyrell apparently loves to use, including ones he’s made up. For example, he uses his term ‘Kultursmog’ where, quite honestly, ‘mainstream media’ would do just as well.

While Tyrell derides the intellectuals of the left, he doesn’t hide his fawning over those on the right. His friend and mentor Bill Buckley is mentioned so often the book comes across as homage to the late conservative icon. In contrast, however, he doesn’t exactly come across as being enthusiastic towards Sarah Palin who is, undoubtedly, one of conservatism’s movers and shakers of today. There are no mentions of other notable conservatives who are in office today, such as Senator Jim DeMint. Indeed, I got the impression that Tyrell is wishing for a return to the intellectual conservatism of yesterday. He spends enough time on the subject, even though the book is supposed to be about the “post-Bush” era.

The final chapter is titled ‘Planning to Prevail: An Agenda for a Conservative Future.’ I guess this is supposed to be the ‘Road to Recovery’ of the book’s title. Sadly, it’s not so much an agenda or plan for the future, but a description of the author’s own ideas. Some I agree with, some I don’t. Nowhere could I find a plan for conservatives to take back the White House or Legislature. That is a major failing of this book.

If you’re a reader of the American Spectator, or worship at the altar of Buckley, you may well get a lot out of this book. For other conservatives, this book is enjoyable enough, but you may prefer to get your inspiration and guidance elsewhere.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 320

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Disclaimer: I received this book free from publishers Thomas Nelson, as part of their Booksneeze review program. I was not required to, or coerced into, writing a positive review. My opinions on this book are all my own.

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