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Some back-cover book testimonials we'd like to see

This morning as I was reading MSNBC liberal pundit Rachel Maddow's new book, "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power," I was struck by one of the testimonials on the back cover. Flanked between predictable praise from NBC's Tom Brokaw and Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi is a shockingly complimentary take from Fox News chief Roger Ailes – an unlikely fan of Maddow's if ever there was one.

"Drift never makes the case that war might be necessary. America would be weakened dramatically if we had underreacted to 9/11," Ailes writes. "However, Rachel Maddow makes valid arguments that our country has been drifting towards questionable wars, draining our resources, without sufficient input and time. People who like Rachel will love the book. People who don't will get angry, but aggressive debate is good for America. 'Drift' is a book worth reading."

Given the antipathy between Fox News and MSNBC, this has to be one of the most unlikely book testimonials in recent history. After reading this stunner, I paused for a moment to consider what other surprising blurbs there must be out there tucked away in the files of America's publishing houses – blurbs that, for whatever reasons, book editors nixed.

One can only wonder.

For example, perhaps President Richard Nixon actually loved Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's "All the President's Men": "A sad but thoroughly engaging work of political non-fiction," Nixon might have written. "I found the story's hero, the president, especially sympathetic and quite brilliant. I also found the story's villainous antagonists – the two bumbling reporters and their hilariously misinformed source they called 'Deep Throat' – to be both evil and comical."

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power And maybe Rush Limbaugh thoroughly enjoyed Al Franken's "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot": "I delved into Mr. Franken's book with some trepidation," Limbaugh could have written. "But as I began reading it I realized that, hey, I know this guy he's writing about, I understand this guy, I like this guy, I love this guy! This book became a part of me because, well, it is me. Terrific tome, with a cleverly ironic title."

Here are some other book blurb shockers that I'd love to find buried in book editors' file cabinets:

  • Hillary Clinton on "Gennifer Flowers: Passion and Betrayal": "It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village idiot to have an affair when you are a public figure. Gennifer comes across in this book as an absolutely sympathetic and genuine figure, with a good figure ... though, needless to say, her choice of men is questionable."
  • Sen. Rick Santorum on Christopher Hitchens' "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything": "Mr. Hutchins makes some very salient points here. I mean, do you know how many wars and atrocities have been because of religion? Christopher is a smart man. It's such a shame that I'm going to heaven and he's going to the other place."
  • Pornographer Larry Flynt on "Strength for the Journey: An Autobiography" by Jerry Falwell: "This book shines new light on a much misunderstood man. What isn't widely known is that while Rev. Falwell and I were bickering in public, we spent many hours in Lynchburh, Va., eating cheese and pork chops and chatting about my love for porn and his love for God. And for the record, he didn't really have sex with his mother in an outhouse – but he did read through several copies of my magazine (Hustler), cover-to-cover and over and over, before deciding it was obscene."
  • Liberal activist Tom Hayden on Ann Coulter's 'Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America": "I want to hate this book. I want to hate the author. But I liked this book. And if you must know, I like the author. I like her a lot. I can't explain it, I wish it would just go away, but I really like you, Ann. Maybe I just want to get back at Jane."
  • Gore Vidal on William Buckley's "Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography": "We've hated each other seemingly forever. Well, to clarify, I've hated him, while he's simply misunderstood and underestimated me. But I must say this book is hard to put down, and it does reveal what we all already know: Mr. Buckley is a brilliant wordsmith – if a woefully misguided, dare I say lost soul."
  • Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Benjamin Netanyahu's "A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations": "Benjamin makes a strong, reasoned case, he is a formidable leader and adversary. I am proud to know this man, and I sincerely hope he is visiting America or on vacation somewhere in Europe when we get those nukes and bomb Jerusalem."
  • The Rev. Jimmy Swaggart on Xaviera Hollander's "The Happy Hooker": "Wow, this is a really stunning and stimulating read, I wish I'd known her. No, wait, can I rewrite that?"
  • George Wallace on "The Autobiography of Malcolm X": "I must admit that this book kept me turning pages. It's an exciting account of a very interesting and complex man. I never said black people can't write – I just said they shouldn't be allowed to attend our colleges."
  • Former Vice President Al Gore on former President George W. Bush's memoir "Decision Points": "George was a worthy political opponent and this is a compelling book, though I can't really call it a presidential memoir given the fact that it was written by a man who I defeated in the 2000 presidential election. But I'm not bitter."

Published April 2012

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