“The first thing that we ask of a writer,” George Orwell once wrote, “is that he shall not tell lies, that he shall say what he really thinks, what he really feels.” Part of the reason Orwell so esteemed truthfulness was that he cared passionately about the historical record handed on to future generations. Kenneth S. Lynn, who in The Air-Line to Seattle certainly shows no hesitation about saying what he really believes, shares Orwell’s concern for the historical record. The essays and reviews in this collection, half of which first appeared in Commentary magazine, make noteworthy amendments to that record, and their cumulative effect is to force a reader to reassess much of what has been written about American literature and history.

Lynn intends to jar intellectuals from complacency and expose the extent to which ideological bias and slovenly...


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