Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empireby Published 10 Oct 2007
|Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.pdf|
|Publisher||Grove Press, Black Cat|
Smells Like Dead Elephants is a brilliant collection from Matt Taibbi, “a political reporter with the gonzo spirit that made Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O’Rourke so much fun” (The Washington Post).
Bringing together Taibbi’s most incisive and hilarious work from his “Road Work” column in Rolling Stone, Smells Like Dead Elephants shines an unflinching spotlight on the corruption, dishonesty, and sheer laziness of our leaders. Taibbi has plenty to say about George W. Bush, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and all the rest, but he doesn’t just hit inside the Beltway.
He gets involved in the action, infiltrating Senator Conrad Burns’s birthday party under disguise as a lobbyist for a fictional oil firm that wants to drill in the Grand Canyon. He floats into apocalyptic post-Katrina New Orleans in a dinghy with Sean Penn.
He goes to Iraq as an embedded reporter, where he witnesses the mind-boggling dysfunction of our occupation and spends three nights in Abu Ghraib prison. And he reports from two of the most bizarre and telling trials in recent memory: California v. Michael Jackson and the evolution-vs.-intelligent-design trial in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Equally funny and shocking, this is excellent work from one of our most entertaining writers.
Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire Reviews
My first reaction when I read Matt Taibbi was that
he's a little too similar to H.S. Thompson, right down
to the syntax.
On the other hand, I could think of worse things to be than
similar to H.S. Thompson. You literally cannot do politics better than 'Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail'. But you sure can try, I suppose.
I could probably pay a handsome sum to have Thompson at his prime writing about the Bush years, but since he's dead, I guess Taibbi would be the next best thing.
As it is, I love the way Taibbi savages all the idiots we have for leaders, and does it so effortlessly. There really is a severe lack of acknowledgment for the sheer absurdity in so much of the writing and coverage of what has happened to this country, and I love when it happens.
The thing that struck me about this book is the fact that the stories were written in 2005-2006 and here we are, six to seven years later dealing with the same issues and worse. Which only goes to prove, I guess, that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Most of the politicians come off in a bad light - not a big surprise, but I didn't realize just how underhanded they are. There are exceptions - Representative Bernie Sanders is one who deserves a medal and/or sainthood.
Matt Taibbi is a pissed off but thoughtful writer and he covers everything from the Michael Jackson trial to the Jack Abramoff scandal to the aftermath of the levee failures in New Orleans. The last story is titled, The Worst Congress Ever, but it's dated November 2, 2006. I'm wondering how Mr. Taibbi would categorize our latest Congress?
I'd appreciate this collection of anti-Bush-government-follies essays much more if Matt Taibbi didn't use such disgusting, msogynist language to describe the disgraceful actions of the lawmakers and lobbyists who were running our country into the ground between 2000 and 2006.
Maybe if he hadn't essentially called them all BIG FAT UGLY GREEDY WHORES, or NASTY SLOPPY SLUTBAG SELLOUT CUNTS, I might've been able to focus on Taibbi's on-scene reporting, like when he participated in day-one post-Katrina boat rescues, or managed to spend three nights in Abu Ghraib post-scandal but pre-shutdown.
Too bad Taibbi's essays are so filled with his "trademark" lazy, unnecessary ugly talk. He and his fans can call it "attitude," but I find it revolting, distracting, demeaning, and tedious. Anyone can string some he-man woman-hating curse words together; grown-up writers don't have to lean on them to assert their personal style.
Originally, I ordered this book because I appreciate Taibbi's insight when he contributes to Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO. This collection of his columns from Rolling Stone did not disappoint. He's a careful thorough journalist who writes with a very entertaining tone; his dry sense of humor offsets the really bad news that his stories convey about some of the most evil-doings in the White House and Congress during the Republican reign. His explanation on Enron, his deliniation of the machination of the House Rules committe, and his extensive description of Jack Abramoff's corruption, in particular, provided helpful information to events that I knew were bad, but more horrifying than I'd realized. I had a hard time putting this book down, so I was excited to pre-order his newest book, The Great Derangement, which I am now reading and cannot put down either. I'll have a review of it as well.
Episodes or dispatches from the disasters of Bush’s second term. Taibbi retains interest whether reporting on the corrupt do nothing congress, or where the thin veneer of civilization is wiped away to reveal the uncaring face of reality. For these later parts his trip into post-Katrina New Orleans with Sean Penn is piece of reporting worthy of Heller or Thompson, a piece of apocalyptic comedy equal parts satire and deadly serious, and three surreal days in Abu Ghraib.