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Image Hosted by Tonight on TDS, Clarence Clemons, saxophonist for The E Street Band and author of Big Man; and on TCR,  Christopher Caldwell, Author of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.

sausage grinder of snark

The E Street Band's Clarence Clemens has a memoir out, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales:

Bruce Springsteen's ebullient saxophonist and onstage foil recounts nearly four decades of the rock 'n' roll life, assisted by best friend Reo, a TV writer and producer. This account, the first by a member of the E Street Band, is "not a standard memoir," the authors warn. Half the chapters can be taken literally, but the rest, labeled "Legends," feature imagined conversations, altered times and places and more-just what a musician might offer up in the long hours on the road, fueled by Jack Daniels and other mind-altering substances, many of which Clemons cops to consuming over the years....Clemons demonstrates that he might be every bit the raconteur that the Boss is in concert. For example, he describes how, in 1972 gig at Sing Sing Prison, the band escaped with their lives after their musical equipment blew out by jamming for an hour with just sax and drums. Fans will find especially fascinating the Big Man's account of the marathon Born to Run (1975) recording, the early road groupies and at least some of his five wives, the ornate touring sanctuary known as the "Temple of Soul" and the E Street Band's late organist, Danny Federici, who was given to such hijinks as running down hotel corridors naked. Any resentment lingering from Springsteen's 1989 decision to break up the band-a decision happily rescinded several years later-has dissipated, leaving only gratitude to a friend responsible for the best years of the author's life. Clemons imparts a warm, Indian summer feeling that deftly accompanies hisrollicking reminiscences, making this a must for the legion of fans that he and the Boss have accumulated over the decades. ~via

There are a whole lot more reviews out there, should you want to explore the fluff.

I'm feeling a bit off-balance, because usually it's Jon who's got the poliwonk and Stephen with the musician. Alas, no duets tonight... although I suspect that'd be an unprecedented television event...

Well, Stephen's got Chris Caldwell. No, not the Mentalist/corporate entertainer  who "demonstrates telepathy, super-memory, and intuition," the Senior Editor at the Weekly Standard,  columnist at the Financial Times, and author of Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.

He's also been published in an assortment of other Major Name Outlets, so naturally he's been reviewed in them -- especially those on the right. But even those on the left give his work a certain amount of respect:

The more time you spend with Christopher Caldwell and his all-over-the-map musings on his conviction that we should all be afraid, very afraid, of the danger presented by each and every Muslim in the world, the more you start to wonder if he is not in fact playing some kind of Stephen Colbert angle here.

Like the great Colbert himself, Caldwell can drone through an extended passage of what sounds like serious analysis as he explores his thesis that godless Europeans basically have no shot against the invading hordes of Islam who are going to take over their continent sooner or later, because, well, they're foreign. Then he can turn on a dime and let loose with a real howler....

Well OK, not that one. But you can see why I had to include it. Without getting into the details, let me give you this:

Caldwell somewhat overstates the case - surely the failures of European immigration can be attributed to both the hostility of the masses and the insecurity of the elites. But then he is not seeking to be balanced and reasonable. This is a declamatory, polemical work and no more so than in its treatment of Islam. In fact, the book is really two essays - one an insightful probing of Europe's confusion about postwar immigration; the other a rather cartoonish polemic about the potential Islamic takeover of Europe.

The Foreign Affairs review begins with "Nothing is as seductive as a half-truth," and one interviewer reflected after the fact:

So on the whole what to make of the book? Caldwell asked me that he didn’t want the book to fit in with one of the two types of immigration book – namely the Islamic reconquest of Europe book or the brotherhood of man book. I think that I’d only partially agree with this because there elements in the book which presents Islam as a bogeyman hovering over Europe. This is slightly weird because I also think that Caldwell is being honest when he said on ’start the week’ that he is instinctively pro-immigration and he was sympathetic to the argument that a lot of problem with the discourse is that the media sensationalises stories against Muslims.

However, If you read it for the pure reporting parts of it such as the rise of Pim Fortyn and his anti-migration stance fitting in with a defence of liberal traditions, and ignore the polemical bit, it is quite interesting and as Caldwell told me, something that he hopes 2nd and 3rd generation citizens can engage with.

Then again, there's this:

Caldwell is a columnist for the Financial Times and an editor of the conservative American magazine the Weekly Standard. Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is the latest in a succession of books by authors such as Mark Steyn, Oriana Fallaci, Bruce Bawer and Melanie Phillips warning of how immigration, and in particular Muslim immigration, is threatening the very foundations of European civilisation. The melodramatic title of Caldwell's book is a nod to Edmund Burke and reflects his belief that the impact on European of postwar immigration has been as dramatic as the fall of the ancien regime in 1789.

What is different about Caldwell is the high praise garnered by his book not simply from right-wing critics of immigration but from many liberals too - there were laudatory reviews in both the Guardian and the Observer. Caldwell, as Prospect editor David Goodhart puts it in the Observer, "is a bracing, clear-eyed analyst of European pieties."

But is he? Three basic arguments underlie Caldwell's thesis....

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is trenchantly written and robustly argued. It is complex and often subtle. It is also fundamentally wrong in both premise and conclusion.

No idea how they'll approach tonight's interview.

(Wanna buy the books? Try indiebound or

Originally posted to TiaRachel on Wed Nov 11, 2009 at 07:55 PM PST.


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