Sunday, May 22, 2005

Theodore Dalrymple : Life At The Bottom

In the Nineties I used to subscribe to a different magazine every year. In no particular order, they were -
  • The Artist

  • The World of Interiors

  • Good Housekeeping

  • The Spectator

  • Country Living

  • Harpers & Queen

  • The Literary Review

  • House & Garden

  • Gardens Illustrated

  • Country Life

I keep the back issues in magazine boxes and from time to time re-read a boxful, finding articles which, for some reason, didn't interest me first time around. It was in The Spectator that I discovered Theodore Dalrymple's acerbic pieces which I liked immediately.

Earlier this week, Michael Allen, to whose Grumpy Old Bookman blog there is a link in the sidebar on the right, wrote a good piece about Dalrymple with several interesting links. When you've finished reading here, go there.

Self-regulation and the decline of civility


A big grocery carton in my workroom is packed with envelopes containing press clippings and miscellaneous info. about
people, mostly writers, whose careers I follow. Looking in the one marked Dalrymple this week, I found a print-out of a seven-page interview
The Spectator in the Breast of Man: Self-regulation and the Decline of Civility in which Peter Saunders, Director of Social Policy Research Programmes at the Centre for Independent Studies talked to Theodore Dalrymple.

Saunders introduced Dalymple as "a psychiatric doctor working in an inner city area of Britain where he is attached to a large hospital and a prison...probably best known for his weekly columns in The Spectator and his essays in the American quarterly City Journal."

Also in the envelope is an email exchange I had with Dalrymple's American publisher Ivan Dee back in 2002 about why there was no British edition of Dalrymple's book Life At The Bottom.

At Amazon. com you will find this synopsis. "This work is an account of life in the underclass and why it persists as it does, written by a British psychiatrist who treats the poor in a slum hospital and a prison in England. Its insight is that long-term poverty is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values, one that is continually reinforced by an elite culture searching for victims. It draws upon eye-opening, true-life vignettes that are by turns hilariously funny, chillingly horrifying, and all too revealing - sometimes all at once.

There are also reviews, one by "policechick from Beds, England" who writes [I have corrected a few typos] -
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book
and read it from cover to cover as if it were a bestseller. Indeed I would say it's the best sociological/criminological book I have ever read. It is not a traditional academic study, in that it is not written in the conventional style of endless quotes and references with a huge bibliography. It is extremely honest and frank, almost too much. Dr Dalrymple does not mince his words and this is one of the books strengths...The author's style is judgmental and opinionated and I loved it and could relate my own experiences in a similar field to everything he has written.
In today's environment age of liberal apologists and with the left-wing trait of re-writing the past, it would be called a right-wing rant by many. I would argue that it is an impassioned plea for change from a person at the sharp end who is articulate and intelligent enough to voice his opinion and isn't frightened to say what he thinks and damn the consequences. A classic, and a must read for anyone in the public services sector of the community.
Bravo Theodore Dalrymple."


Still no UK edition of "must read" book


After checking at Amazon.co.uk, I emailed Ivan Dee who replied -
Dear Ms. Weale, There is still no UK edition of LIFE AT THE BOTTOM, and we are just publishing a new Dalrymple collection, OUR CULTURE, WHAT'S LEFT OF IT. We expect it to do very well--it has a substantial first printing. Although Dutch rights in both books have been sold, I won't be surprised if this new book shares the same fate in the UK as its predecessor. We've had publishers look at these books, but no one has bitten. Is it political correctness, or fear thereof? I can't say. Best wishes, Ivan Dee


Another review at Amazon headed "a classic, which our rulers will determinedly ignore" is by Dr Michael T Pearse from Northwood, Middlesex UK. He wrote -
"This book is a classic! It is beautifully written and engagingly argued...Even our illiberally-liberal elite, one might think, cannot refute the evidence, which Dalrymple presents here, of what their ideas mean for the poor in practice. So we can safely predict that Dalrymple's book will be studiously ignored by the organs of official culture or that, if they are forced to take notice, there will be cheap-shots against him personally. But this is a brilliant, brilliant book! Read it, and see clearly.


Is it possible that people in high places have brought pressure to bear on all the London publishing houses likely to want to bring out Life At The Bottom?

I find this idea hard to swallow...but what other explanation can there be?

A military writer and his literary agent


One morning this week Google alerted me to some "vintage Anne Weale titles" for sale. As readers often ask me where they can buy out of print backlist titles, I went to the site advertising them where, above the list of my titles, were several books by an author with the same surname, Adrian Weale.

I've read about Adrian Weale before and wondered if we might be distantly related.
To find out more about him, I keyed his name into Google which led to a photograph
and bio on the website of his literary agent.

Adrian Weale was born in London in 1964 and educated at the Latymer Upper School, York University and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He served for several years as a military intelligence officer in the regular Army, before
leaving to pursue a career as a writer and historian. Since then he has written eight non-fiction books under his own name, and ghost written several more, primarily for former Special Forces personnel. In addition, he has written widely for the UK national press and is a regular broadcaster on BBC TV and radio, specialising in military and intelligence related subjects.In 2003 he was recalled to the Army for service in Iraq, where he was appointed Chief of Staff for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the city of Nasiriyah,in effect governing a province with more than two million inhabitants. He is currently working on a new history of the SS for Little, Brown.Adrian Weale is married with three children, and lives in London and Shropshire.

Books by Adrian Weale
  • Patriot Traitors, 2001

  • Science and the Swastika, 2001

  • The Real SAS, 1998

  • Secret Warfare, 1997

  • Green-Eyed Boys, 1996

  • Eyewitness Hirosmima, 1995

  • Fighting Fit, 1993

  • Renegades: Hitler's Englishmen

I then explored his agent Andrew Lownie's site where I read
"The website is attracting more and more visitors each month, with last month at an all-time high of 88,407 hits (6,644 unique visitors). One visitor, David
Gatward, says: "This is possibly the most user-friendly literary agency website
I've ever seen; packed with helpful advice, utterly non-threatening and very easy to read. Many people could learn from you! I've worked as an editor and writer for years, so I've seen a lot of the not-so-good!"


Andrew Lownie is one of only two literary agents to go into Who's Who 2005.

There's a lot of good advice for authors on this website and, if you go to the Authors A-Z page, you'll find a link to a party Andrew Lownie gave to mark to launch of the website. There are two pages of photos taken at the party but they don't have captions so visitors, unless they are regulars on the London publishing party scene, won't know who all the people are. I wanted to know the identity of
an interesting-looking
man
talking to a woman in a white or cream top.

Andrew Lownie's site is the work of MP Design, a link leading to the
blog of Michael Pead which, he tells me, is soon going to be merged with his website, at present devoted to photographs. His blog led me to...

The Biographers’ Club...


This club was founded in 1997...now meets on a regular basis at the Savile Club. There are about one hundred and fifty members of which a third are publishers, agents, journalists and film producers and the rest biographers.

The aim of The Biographers’ Club is to provide a forum for biographers to network with fellow biographers and relevant contacts and to meet and discuss various issues connected with the craft of biography...Its members include Michael Holroyd, Philip Ziegler, Frances Spalding, Valerie Grove, Adam Sisman, Kathryn Hughes and Antonia Fraser. Speakers at its monthly lunches and dinners have included Roy Jenkins, Andrew Morton, Jan Morris, Artemis Cooper, Richard Holmes, Gyles Brandreth and Piers Brendon.

It administers the annual Biographers’ Club Prize, sponsored by the Daily Mail and worth £1,000, which is awarded for the best un-commissioned proposal for a biography.

Iris Chang and John Rabe


What is so fascinating about the web is the way it leads us into areas we might never discover via the other media. This morning, after clicking on the Nota Bene link in the left hand sidebar at Arts & Letters Daily, I read an article by Robert Ito in
The Village Voice about Iris Chang author of The Rape of Nanking.

There, I read "Chang turns up an unlikely hero in German businessman John Rabe, a devoted member of the Nazi party who importuned Adolf Hitler to intervene and stop the slaughter, and who personally saved the lives of countless residents of Nanking."

Google then took me to Rabe's page at a site called More Or Less
offering "short biographies and background notes on selected world heroes and killers of the 20th century".

"The 1,200-page diary is forgotten after the Second World War, but will later resurface to furnish proof that the atrocities at Nanjing did in fact occur. It is estimated that more than 250,000 are saved by the actions of Rabe and the other zone
administrators, who are subjected to constant threats and intimidation, including violence, from the Japanese."

Also "Comment: Can a Nazi be a hero? The whole world seems to believe that Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler was a hero because of his work to save the lives of 1,200 Jews. John Rabe played the key role in saving the lives of more than 250,000 Chinese. On this comparison alone, Rabe must rank as a major hero of the 20th Century."

Also "He is well up in Nazi circles and after coming into such close contact as we have for the past few weeks and discover(ing) what a splendid man he is and what a tremendous heart he has, it is hard to reconcile his personality with his adulation of 'Der Fuhrer.'"

Next week


Next Sunday I'll be travelling. I hope you miss me. I shall certainly miss my laptop, but it's probably a good thing to have to live without it for a week now and then.

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