A Colossal Wreck
A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Political Corruption and American Culture
By Alexander Cockburn
(Verso, Hardcover, 9781781681190, 586pp.)
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
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Alexander Cockburn was without question one of the most influential journalists of his generation, whose writing stems from the best tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Menchken and Tom Paine. "Colossal Wreck," his final work, finished shortly before his death in July 2012, exemplifies the prodigious literary brio that made Cockburn's name.
Whether ruthlessly exposing Beltway hypocrisy, pricking the pomposity of those in power, or tirelessly defending the rights of the oppressed, Cockburn never pulled his punches and always landed a blow where it mattered. In this panoramic work, covering nearly two decades of American culture and politics, he explores subjects as varied as the sex life of Bill Clinton and the best way to cook wild turkey. He stands up for the rights of prisoners on death row and exposes the chicanery of the media and the duplicity of the political elite. As he pursues a serpentine path through the nation, he charts the fortunes of friends, famous relatives, and sworn enemies alike to hilarious effect.
This is a thrilling trip through the reefs and shoals of politics and everyday life. Combining a passion for the places, the food and the people he encountered on dozens of cross-country journeys, Cockburn reports back over seventeen years of tumultuous change among what he affectionately called the "thousand landscapes" of the United States.
"It’s alive on every page, this thing; its feisty sentences wriggle … A Colossal Wreck will have a long life among those who care about the crackling deployment of the English language, partly because Mr. Cockburn had such a wide-ranging mind ... His book is a stay against boredom." – Dwight Garner, New York Times
“A Colossal Wreck provides ample evidence for Cockburn's standing as one of the left's most perceptive and entertaining commentators.”—The Guardian
“Alex struck American journalism like lightning.”—Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast
“Always surprising, outrageous, brilliant and yet strangely compassionate. He
weaves together the public and the private with a sustained comic ingenuity
that is matchless.”—Edward Said
“Alexander Cockburn set a high standard of crusading journalism for fifty
years … With his Wildean wit, love of elegant women, penchant for hunting
and fondness for P. G. Wodehouse, Cockburn defied the stereotype of the
disgruntled left-wing scribe.”—The Independent
“Cockburn essentially pioneered the modern persona for which Christopher
Hitchens became much better known: the fancily Oxford-educated leftie Brit
littérateur/journalist who would say all the outrageous things his bland Yank
counterparts lacked the wit, courage, erudition, or épater -spirit to utter on
their own … Cockburn was far more committed and purposeful in his outrageousness.”—The Atlantic