May 26, 2004

Vernon Coleman…Oddball Recently one of

Vernon Coleman…Oddball

Recently one of the senior editors here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—came across an advertisement for what appears to be an unusual new book. Entitled Rogue Nation, this tome is the work of a Brit called Vernon Coleman.

Immediately we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” figured that Dr. Coleman composed a learned disquisition on North Korea or Iran. But, alas, the subtitle of his work gives away the Good Doctor’s prejudices: “The Scary Truth about America.” Apparently, the esteemed Dr. Coleman considers the United States of America a far more dire threat to human happiness than, say, China or Zimbabwe.

This led us to wonder: What kind of credentials does the Good Doctor Coleman have on matters of foreign policy? Well, Dr. Coleman’s web-site makes clear that he has a degree in medicine, and has penned such upstanding articles as “Modern Medicine is Not a Science.” We know what you must be thinking, dear reader: At least this Coleman character is not some sort of kook.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” were further soothed by Dr. Coleman’s web-site when we read that he has penned over 90 medical and fiction books, including the novel We Love Cats, which must surely be a page-turner. (We hope, incidentally, that the Good Doctor’s tome refers to our feline friends, and not that wretched Andrew Lloyd Webber musical; if he earnestly admires the latter, we might begin to doubt his capacity for judgment—if not his very sanity.)

Dr. Coleman’s web-site helpfully contains a picture of this Grand Old Man of British letters, which makes him seem like a bow-tie clad Jim Varney impersonator. In addition, the site informs us that he “is balding and widely disliked by members of the Establishment.”

Naturally, all of the above details led us to conclude that Dr. Coleman’s Rogue Nation will prove a masterful example of political analysis. Indeed, his advertisement boasts that the book shall spell out to its reader(s) “How and why the USA threatens your home, family, health, freedom and future.”

Now we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t want to get too Establishment for Dr. Coleman’s liking, but we are compelled to note a problem with this assessment. Surely, if the United States constitutes a grave danger to our “home, family, health” and “freedom,” it naturally will pose some sort of peril to our “future.” It would have been far more interesting, we think, if Dr. Coleman had claimed that his book exposes “How and why the USA threatens your home, family, health, freedom and past.” Or, better yet, “your home, family, health, freedom and last Tuesday.” Now that’sinteresting.

The advertisement also touts a quotation claiming that “Vernon Coleman’s startling new book contains everything you should know about America.” Given that the quotation in question bears no attribution, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have the sneaking suspicion that Dr. Coleman penned it himself.

But no matter. What really intrigued us is the claim that this work, which is all of 224 pages, constitutes everything the modern reader must learn about this horrid rogue nation. We wonder how much space the Good Doctor gives to, say, the Louisiana Purchase and Thurgood Marshall, let alone Calvin Coolidge and the hula-hoop. And we hope he doesn’t skim over the Revolutionary War out of envy. Or American dental care, for that matter.

By this time, dear reader, you must be itching to purchase Dr. Coleman’s lucubration on “the world’s most dangerous nation.” Still, we feel the need to mention a curious blurb that is affixed to the Good Doctor’s advertisement. Attributed to “The Independent on Sunday,” it reads: “Vernon Coleman…superstar.”

Now, we don’t want to make too fine a point about this, especially given the fact that “The Independent on Sunday” is certainly a luminous beacon of England’s journalistic Establishment, but we found this quotation rather curious. To the benighted rogues known as Americans, Dr. Coleman has provided what appears to be a prime example of Dowdification: The mangling of a quotation to fit the author’s prejudices.

After all, “The Independent on Sunday”’s quotation, as printed in Dr. Coleman’s advertisement, doesn’t provide the reader much in the way of context. Couldn’t the full quotation read something like: “Vernon Coleman is not at all a superstar”? Or how about: “Vernon Coleman makes Neville Chamberlain seem like an astute observer of political realities and a military superstar”?

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” were so dismayed by this miserable blurb that we decided to forgo purchasing a staff copy of Rogue Nation. Even so, we’re going to pool our resources and pick up a copy of We Love Cats at the local bookstore. We hope we are not exposing our readers to too wretched a pun by suggesting that this topic is more up Dr. Coleman’s alley.

Posted at May 26, 2004 12:01 PM | TrackBack