Give War a Chance, by P.J. O’Rourke (2003; orig. published 1992)

“Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind’s Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer” is a collection of P.J. O’Rourke’s various writings from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. If you grew up during the Reagan Years, you’ll probably remember many of the stories in this collection from when they were current events–especially various foreign affairs stories (Iran-Contra, e.g.).

O’Rourke also takes jabs at famous books from the era (Lee Iacocca’s autobiography, and a book penned by former President and First Lady, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter). To me, one of the funniest parts of the book is the party games he’s invented to play using the Carters’ book. It’s…well, you’d just have to read it.

The book’s biggest section concerns the events leading up to The Persian Gulf War, as well as the war itself. The war–if you recall–was the first one really televised live. O’Rourke gives behind the scenes details of how the press coverage really worked, as well as some horrifying situations he encountered during his time there.

To us–more than a quarter-century after most of these stories were originally published–“Give War a Chance” is most-valuable as an eyewitness historical perspective. O’Rourke’s adventures have led him through more than enough dangerous situations.

The real value to fans of the author is his rich, funny prose. It takes a special skill to inject humor into war coverage, for example, but P.J. O’Rourke manages to do just that. He balances his oft-irreverent style with in-depth reporting, without being overly frivolous.

The age and length of these stories would normally earn three stars from me. But I’m giving it four, just because P.J. O’Rourke is so damn funny.

Recommended (Mainly for P.J. O’Rourke fans, and those with interest in that time period’s big stories.)


About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
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