REVIEW: Pick Up Burt Prelutsky's New Book

As a columnist and blogger, I get sent a lot of books from authors who hope that I’ll write a review praising their stuff. I try my best to read as many as possible, and I decline to review those that aren’t quite worthy of praise.

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One book I received recently was Burt Prelutsky’s hilarious take-no-prisoners compilation with intro by Bernard Goldberg, Liberals: America’s Termites or It’s a Shame That Liberals, Unlike Hamsters, Never Eat Their Young. The title pretty much says it all – Prelutsky isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, and his short book is chock full of hysterical one-liners and RPG attacks on the left. I don’t agree with all of it, but it sure makes for fun reading.

Prelutsky on movies: “The 60s, the decade during which I did most of my reviewing, was notable for very young, very untalented, essentially illiterate British and American directors who gave new meaning to self-indulgence.” Whew.

On the education system: “How is it that Americans who lived hard scrabble lives 150 years ago could read, write, do math problems and quote at length from Shakespeare and the Bible, while today, in spite of ‘Sesame Street,’ pre-school, Operation Head Start, computers and mind-numbing hours of homework, millions of youngsters entering college can do none of those things? And four years later, may of them still can’t! Really, what is there about being a grade school teacher, a social worker or a professor of English Literature, for that matter, that requires a major expenditure of time or money?”

On liberals: “The thing I find hard to deal with is the remarkably high opinion of themselves that all liberals seem to have. I mean, almost without exception, they regard themselves as civil, sophisticated, and open-minded; in short, all the things that right-wingers aren’t and can never hope to be … It’s the same folks who … give standing ovations to the likes of those blithering nincompoops, Barbara Boxer and Robert Byrd, people whose every utterance sounds like the incoherent ramblings of a drunken lunatic.”

There’s a lot of good information here, too, particularly about the TV industry, in which Prelutsky worked for decades (he was a writer on M*A*S*H, among other things). His chapter entitled “Hollywood Would Rather Make Trouble Than Movies” is a terrific expose of just what goes on behind the scenes. One episode is particularly instructive. A few decades after M*A*S*H went off the air, Prelutsky attends a luncheon with some of the other writers. When he announces that he’s a conservative, one of the other writers literally gets up and walks away “so quickly, you might have thought I’d just acknowledged being a leper.” Then the M*A*S*H producer chimes in: “You’re George Bush!” Any outspoken Hollywood conservative faces this sort of shock and awe on a regular basis.

There’s another issue that gets very little press coverage but deserves scrutiny: age discrimination in Hollywood. Once you hit 50, you’re out of the business. Prelutsky sums it up: “Some people might find it ironic that Hollywood’s liberals, who are still inflamed over a blacklist that took place 60 years ago, not only condone it in their hometown, but practice it every single day of their lives.”

It’s enlightening stuff, and it’s worth perusal. How are we going to beat Hollywood at their own game if we don’t learn their rules?

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