There are few things I enjoy as much as a really skillful critical evisceration. Bravo.
Pachauri sounds like an excellent case study for Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed
Yet again Walter Russell Mead performs a selfless humanitarian service: reading this clot of codswallop so we don’t have to.
I will never read “Return to Almora”, but I am glad I read this review.
Awonderful piece of writing, Walter Russell Mead. Thank you.
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Here’s the link to the Amazon page for the book ($32 new, $14 used):
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The Peace Prize is handled by the norwegians, we swedes are not to blame!
It’s great when you think the review is better than the book, isn’t it?
A coworker returned home to India soon after this book was released. (Not Almora, and with a round trip ticket.) I asked him to pick up a copy if it was convenient. I figured it would be nice to balance my climate library with a soft porn curio.
I still haven’t finished it, but I can assure everyone this review is far better written than the book. It has humor, pathos, insight – of course I’m referring to the review.
I even learned something. There’s a UN review of the IPCC coming out? That may well be another piece of fiction worthy of a Walter Russell Mead review.
What a superb piece of writing! – Russell Mead I mean, not the blessed Pachauri !
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Sanjay is clearly what in the fiction business is called a Mary Sue character. Not a parody at all.
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Doesn’t this sound just a little bit like the story of Obama?
This is the most brilliant critical review that I have ever read of anything. It is so wonderful that I struggle even to find a way to say “thank you”. But, THANK YOU!
I’m always amused when members of the “enlightened elite'” write novels. They tend to prove that the authors are, indeed, vapid individuals, detached from reality and often confusing their fantasies with same.
Thank you, sir, for this review. Having read both Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” and most of Carlos Castaneda because I was told they were “worthwhile books by worthwhile people”, I can avoid this one. Thereby saving myself from the thought I had after both the Foucault and Castaneda experiences; namely, “well, there’s ten hours of my life I’ll never get back’.
The “Sanjay” character sounds like a textbook Mary Sue, or in this case Gary Stu. Mary Sue / Gary Stu storiestend to be roundly loathed for just the reasons laid out in this review: the main characters are shallow, underdeveloped, and clearly no more than a vehicle for the author’s wish fulfillment. It is true that most beginning writers go through this “Mary Sue” stage, but they tend to grow out of it in their teens. Apparently, however, Pachauri hasn’t done so. What this says about him may be imagined.
“. . . the Peace Prize he shares with Al Gore is probably all the Swedish love that Pachauri can expect.” Nifty line.
Your description here reminds me of how I felt when, upon the 4th attempt, I finally made myself read through Atlas Shrugged, certainly the worst English-language novel I ever read, by someone whose enthusiastic honesty was as banal and horrifying as that which you describe in this post. I am sure Pachauri is not being clever, but is just being Pachauri. I can barely believe you spent so much time on this thing, Walter. Wasn’t there ANYTHING better to do?
Can’t wait for the movie.
As an Indian, I am mortified that our government was so incompetent and clueless that it could find no one better than this repulsive buffoon as its candidate to head the IPCC.
This book certainly deserves serious consideration for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Just think, one of the few double awardees. What a coup for the Norwegians.
Dear Mr. Mead: No, no, Churchill only won the Nobel for Literature in 1953. When told he had won, he was overjoyed—until he found it was the Literature prize. He had wanted the Peace prize, and was rather sour that George Marshall won the Peace prize that year. This is a telling comment on the relative worth of the prizes, one that Toni Morrison should consider—but won’t.
Why not just consider the book a treatise on a fool advertising his foolishness? Given the sales ranking, the old quack isn’t going to be rolling in dough from this stuff, so we can buy it in good conscience, and laugh at him.
Thanks for the heads up. An internal investigation is being launched into the possible error; so far the plan is to fire a couple of interns and give senior management hardship bonuses.
“The intellectual vapidity and narcissistic self satisfaction of the book is unsurpassable.” Will probably have to rank that sentence up near Vox Day’s takedown of Sam Harris (“Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.”).
“the Peace Prize he shares with Al Gore is probably all the Swedish love that Pachauri can expect.”
Norwegian, Norwegian, not Swedish.
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Actually Winston Churchill never won the Nobel Peace Prize, only Nobel Prize in Literature (1954, for his 6 volume memoir The Second World War).
Perhaps because Churchill was less talented than Barack Obama?
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I get the profound sense that Mr. Mead has no idea what the word “vapid” means. It means simply flavorless and dull. Maybe he meant to use the word “vacuous,” because the way he uses it implies a lack of substance.
People like Mead end up misusing the word “vapid” because it sounds a lot meaner than it actually is.
Mr. Mead, thanks for reviewing Pachauri’s book, it can’t be that bad if it inspired such a penetrating review.
Thanks, Gregory and others, for catching the minor errors in the piece which we missed. I have fixed the relevant sentence, am packing up my desk, and security will soon be escorting me out of the building… alas, Team Mead is now one fewer.
Editorial Team, Via Meadia
Sam, of course, is just kidding. The loss of a finger that he doesn’t really need and a cut in pay will keep him on the team.
I for one loved it. The only element it was lacking? Giant robots. Kudos Raj!
Wow, when I saw the headline I thought it was an article by our Organizer-in-chief–you know the “vapidity” word (see link from REAL CLEAR POLITICS)
Comment by Just Me – August 23, 2010 @ 9:44 am
Indeed, when I read Professor Mead’s opinion that “The intellectual vapidity and narcissistic self satisfaction of the book is unsurpassable,” two other works by a certain author sprang to mind as very strong contenders for the laurel.
Come on, tell us what you really think.
I have it on good authority that Return To Almora was actually written by Bill Ayers. The protaganist was modeled after Al Gore, and the original title was “Dreams from My Father in Almora”.
Thank you, Mr. Mead. You remind me that though logic is not very much in fashion, that it still has awesome power.
A preening peacock who is to climate science what swami swindler Deepak Chopra is to the study and practice of medicine.
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Thanks so much. You’ve performed a great public service.
To th earlier commenter who said, “As an Indian, I am mortified that our government was so incompetent and clueless that it could find no one better than this repulsive buffoon as its candidate to head the IPCC.”
Don’t feel too bad, look at some of Obama’s appointees.
wow walter. boy, can you trash people! how are your own chicken doing? and how is yale and its boys?
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