Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Changing the world ad nauseam

As a book review editor for 33 years, I quailed every time the UPS man brought me a new review copy of a book whose subtitle included the words ". . . That Changed the World." For some reason publishers believe that hackneyed and hyperbolic phrase sells books, even if it bears no resemblance to reality.

In fact, a couple of years or so ago some smart guy (was it P.J. O'Rourke?) wrote a hilarious sendup for (was it the New York Times Book Review?) on the subject. I wish I could find it and wallow in resigned indignation some more. (If any of you remember who it was and where it was published, please clue me in.)

My crankiness this morning is spurred by the discovery that David Maraniss, an otherwise sterling journalist, has produced a new book called Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World. It may be an excellent work (many of the reviews are highly laudatory) but I do not plan to read it, just because of that goddam phrase.

Think I'm overreacting? Just Google "That Changed the World" (within quote marks, please).

Two million, nine hundred twenty thousand hits.

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