Monday, December 17, 2012

Gil Troy

Gil Troy is  Professor of History at McGill University. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, The New Republic, and other major media outlets. His books include The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction, Leading from the Center, Morning in America, and Why I am a Zionist.

Troy's latest book is Moynihan's Moment: America's Fight Against Zionism as Racism.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the author what he was reading.  His reply:
Right now, I am reading student papers – but as soon as I finish that task, I have two unfinished books waiting – which is rare – and one new book pending. The unfinished work of fiction is Watergate: A Novel by Thomas Mallon. I confess, part of my initial motivation was to be able to say “yes” when I was asked “have you read it?” But I find it fascinating and infuriating all at the same time. I detest Oliver Stone. I hate what he has done in blurring the line between fact and fiction, especially in his contemptible, self-important, distorting JFK and Nixon movies. Mallon is guilty of the same crime, and you read each sentence wondering what is true, what is based on some kind of research, and what is speculative. But, unlike Stone, Mallon’s approach is so endearing, so charming, I remain more entranced than enraged – and am curious to see how it ends. (Please don’t ruin it by saying what President Nixon might do as his administration implodes!) The book, however, is an e-book on my iPad, so I tend to reserve that for plane rides when I do not have too much work. Therefore, it is hanging, but given my familiarity with the characters, it is not difficult to pick up the thread.

The other unfinished book is David Mamet’s The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews. Whereas Mallon’s novel is langorous, Mamet’s book is furious. Mamet has some of the same manic energy that Daniel Patrick Moynihan had – and Mamet’s ire is directed at a favorite Moynihan target, all varieties of leftist radicals who are so busy proving they are tolerant they end up tolerating the intolerable, including the intolerant who don’t tolerate their own kind. Mamet, like Moynihan, is a remarkable wordsmith, and summons all the powers of the English language and centuries of civilization to defend civilization from inner rot, appeasers, doubters, those who, as my mother said, “are so open-minded their brains fall out.”

Finally, the book I am waiting to read is the historian James Patterson’s Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America. I have always been a 1968 man myself. And part of my motivation in writing Moynihan’s Moment was to zero in on a great defining moment. Jim is one of the great historians of this generation, so I am curious to see what he does with 1965, and the first three pages drew me in – the year starts with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society hopes, but it is in many ways, the year that Vietnam escalates out of control, the year of Watts, very much a defining year – so I am intrigued and anxious to learn.
Visit Gil Troy's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue