Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Annals of fiction bigotry

From Sarah Murdoch at the Toronto Star, new lows in what passes for nonfiction book reviewing:
You can read what many regard as an excellent, perhaps even the definitive, Napoleon biography, 2014’s Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts, at 976 pages. Or you can read Napoleon: A Concise Biography, by David A. Bell, at 113 pages. If, like me, you would prefer not be buried under a welter of detail about a historical period with which you are only vaguely familiar, you’ll chose the latter.
Imagine a reviewer advising that the Reader's Digest Condensed Books edition of such-and-such a novel is preferable because she prefers "not to be buried under a welter of detail." Somehow an historical illiterate can judge two history titles exclusively on the basis of which is shorter, and still hold a job with a major newspaper.
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