Not with a Bang but a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline

Ivan R. Dee has just published the newest collection of City Journal essays by Theodore Dalrymple. The book is now available for purchase at Amazon and, I presume, your own preferred outlet.

Not with a Bang but a Whimper collects 19 essays published between 2004 and 2008 and includes many of his most discussed essays from that time, such as “What the New Atheists Don’t See” and “The Gift of Language”. We will be reviewing and summarizing the book in due time. For now, the summary from the book jacket is reproduced below. And why not take this opportunity to buy a print subscription to the publication that made this all possible: City Journal, one of the best and most beautiful magazines in America.

“No writer today is more adept and incisive than Theodore Dalrymple in exploring the state of our culture and the ideas that are changing our ways of life. His brilliant new collection of writings follows on the extraordinary success of his earlier books, Life at the Bottom and Our Culture, What’s Left of It.

In Not with a Bang But a Whimper, he takes the measure of our cultural decline, noting that our current age seems exceptional in the peculiarity of its unease: “Never in human history have people lived such long and pain-free lives; never have so many people, and so high a proportion of people, had so much freedom to choose how to live, what goals to pursue, and how to divert themselves. On the other hand, never have so many people felt anxious and depressed, and resorted to pills to ease their distress. Mankind has labored long and hard to produce a cornucopia for itself, only to discover that the cornucopia does not bring the happiness expected, but only a different kind of anxiety.”

Mr. Dalrymple’s special attention is to the British experience–its bureaucratic muddle, oppressive welfare mentality, and aimless young–all produced by people and programs in pursuit of democracy and freedom. He shows how terrorism and the growing numbers of Muslim minorities have changed public life in Britain and elsewhere. Also in the book are Mr. Dalrymple’s trenchant observations on artists and ideologues, and on the treatment of criminals and the mentally disturbed, his area of medical interest.

The collapse of confidence that many people experience is here stringently articulated by one of our keenest social observers.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.