Blog post

"The best version of our angry selves"

Clara Heyworth 9 December 2010

Over at Time Out Chicago—where the books coverage is oh so much better than here in New York, sigh—Books Editor Jonathan Messinger has bigged up The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe-Thrower of Baghdad in a delightfully well-formed four-star review which opens with what we think are spot-on remarks about Verso:

If someone asked us to name a publisher in this country that's most likely to righteously piss off the self-righteous (if we had a dime for every time ...), we'd pick Verso in a heartbeat. Few presses provide as important contrarian commentary on history and current events.

Of the subtitle's Shoe-Thrower of Baghdad (aka Muntazer Al-Zaidi) and his "Why I Threw the Shoe" Messinger writes,

Iraqi Al-Zaidi, for a clearly impetuous shoe-thrower, is fairly reasoned in his explanation, stating, "I am free. But my country is still a prisoner of war."

and he notes that a similar clarity "shines through a great many of [the book's] pieces":

Though we tend to think of dissent as a rabble-rousing affair, the best and most effective pieces combine passion with a surprising amount of level-headedness.

Messinger isn't sure such "level-headedness" could be attributed to 15th-century Vietnamese aristocrat Le Loi, who said,

Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out.

but that is certainly one of Verso's favorite quotes from the book (if we were forced to choose.) 

For Messinger, "reading the book is like encountering the best version of our angry selves." And what could be better? There are myriad things to be angry about in America at present—Glenn Beck just one of them, so if this book is destined to "give [him] an aneurysm," we would struggle to hold back a cheer.

Visit Time Out Chicago to read the review in full, and to enjoy their fine books coverage.

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