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All the Trouble in the World : The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty
In All the Trouble in the World, best-selling political humorist P.J. O'Rourke tackles the "fashionable worries"--the enormous global problems that are endlessly in the news and constantly on our minds but about which we mostly don't have a clue.
O'Rourke crisscrosses the globe asking not just "What's the answer?" but "What the hell's the question?" In his chapter on over-population (titled "Just Enough of Me, Way Too Much of You") he visits first Bangladesh, then Fremont, California. The two places have the same number of people per square mile. Is the problem really that Bangladesh is too crowded? If so, how come George Harrison never held a concert to benefit suburban Californians?
For his chapter on famine ("All Guns, No Butter") O'Rourke goes to Somalia and discovers that there's plenty of food, you just have to be armed to get it. He dismisses the self-righteous "anti-hunger" types back home, saying that they "cannot resist a dig at us gluttonous bourgeoisie who've climbed way up on the food chain where we don't belong. I guess they believe that if I don't eat this steak, the cow will come back to life, vomit its corn and silage, and these can be fed to the people in Chad."
The author travels to the Earth Summit in Rio and let the hot air out of global warming theorists. He tours the old Communist bloc to ponder why, if government regulation is the answer to pollution, the most government-regulated countries were the most polluted. And while hiking in the Amazon, inspecting our deteriorating environment, he discovers that rain forests are such horrible places that all we have to do to preserve them is give everyone who lives there a chance to drive a New York City cab.
O'Rourke examines the faddish issue of multiculturalism by returning to his cold college campus, where the air is full of such ideas, and then by going to Bosnia, where minority empowerment has reached its logical conclusion and the air is full of something else entirely: "In former Yugoslavia, if guns are anything to go by, the minorities are all very well empowered indeed. I watched as Serbian Chetnik nationalist tried to take the village of Golubic from Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslims. The unspellables were shooting the unpronounceables."
What is P.J. O'Rourke's conclusion about overpopulation, famine, ecological disaster, ethnic hatred, plague, and poverty? See his last chapter, which describes the resurgent economy in Vietnam and is called "The Hell with Everything, Let's Get Rich."
From angry chiggers in the jungles of Peru to irate coeds in Ohio, All the Trouble in the World is P.J. at his absolute best--with seriously hilarious takes on the issues that shape our contemporary world and plenty of swipes at the hilariously serious people who pontificate about them.
Political humorist O'Rourke (Give War a Chance) takes a swipe at "fashionable worries," reminding us that "This is a moment of hope in history"-no more evil empire to threaten us. His contention that this is "the best moment of all time" and the U.S. is "the best place to be" is funny mostly in one-liners and anecdotes, but his larger arguments flag: while Miami's efforts at multiculturalism are worthy of parody, a field trip to "multiculturalism in practice"-the war in Bosnia-is no real contrast. After skewering environmentalists, whom he accuses of crying wolf too often, the author visits the polluted Czech Republic to proclaim sophistically that collectivist government can't solve ecological problems. As usual, O'Rourke has a good eye for self-righteousness, but his libertarian reach exceeds his wisecracking grasp.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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August 11, 1995
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