The Official Website of P. J. O'Rourke (2024)

Author’s note:
Parliament of whor*s, written twenty years ago, was a look at our political system’s machinery (and the wrenches—and wretches—in it).Don’t Voteis a look at our political system’s principles (or lack of them).I’m trying to figure out the principles—good, bad, and absent—that make our political machinery work the piss-poor way it does.

Driving Like Crazy—Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 2009
Thirty Years of Vehicular Hell-Bending Celebrating America the Way It’s Supposed to Be — With an Oil Well in Every Backyard, a Cadillac Escalade in Every Carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn

Author’s note:
A collection of nineteen pieces of car journalism spanning thirty-some years.I included my 1978 instructional essay, “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink.”But I added a follow-up for those of us who have fallen victim to middle-age, “How to Drive Fast When the Drugs Are Mostly Lipitor, the Wing-Wang Needs More Squeezing Than It Used to Before It Gets the Idea, and Spilling Your Drink Is No Problem if You Keep the Sippy Cups from When Your Kids Were Toddlers and Leave a Baby Seat in the Back so that When You Get Pulled Over You Look Like a Perfectly Innocent Grandparent.”

Author’s note:
Part of the “Books That Changed the World” series—commentaries by various contemporary writers on various Great Books.These were commissioned by Toby Mundy, head of Atlantic Books,London.The unspoken subtitle of the series is, “Books That, Let’s Admit, You’re Never Going to Finish.”And you don’t have to, I did it for you—although it took me a year and threw me into the deep end of the thought pool where I am not accustomed to swim without my water-wings.

Peace Kills —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 2004
America’s Fun New Imperialism

Author’s note:
About how the end of the Cold War failed to take the foreign out of foreign policy.The book starts in Kosovo in 1999 and goes through 9/11 and the Iraq War.(Bargaining for beer in conqueredBaghdad—and getting soundly cheated—showed the enduring strength and resilience of Middle Eastern culture.)There’s a postscript about a visit to Iwo Jima, a few months after the invasion ofIraqwas completed, where the reporter is invited to consider whether we’ve got it so bad compared to WWII.

The CEO of the Sofa — Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 2001
One year in the life of a man who said, “Mind if I put my feet up?I think I will take this lying down.”

Author’s note:
A light-hearted ramble through the foibles and follies of theClintonera with a publication date of September 10, 2001.I promptly forgot about the book, and so did everyone else.Re-reading it, I’m fond of the thing, but there may be reasons for forgetting it besides national tragedy. I was trying to take a collection of miscellaneous pieces and work them into a similitude of The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes.In the first place I discovered that most people have Holmes confused with his more famous relative Sherlock.In the second place the conceit of Holmes’s book is that the autocrat lives in a boarding house and dominates the conversation during the morning meal.Conversation at a sit-down meal, let alone in the morning, is now a wholly alien concept.Even the phrase “table talk” is meaningless to moderns.What is the table talk at TV tables?
“Huh?”
“Ha, ha.”
“That’s stupid.”
“Where’s the remote?”

Eat the Rich —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1998
A Treatise on Economics

Author’s note:
In an attempt to answer the question I read some economics (ouch).I also went to look at good capitalism (on Wall Street—but two bubbles ago), bad capitalism (Albania), good socialism (Sweden), bad socialism (Cuba), a place with plenty of resources but no money (Tanzania), and a place with plenty of money but no resources (Hong Kong).The fundamental conclusion of the book:The free market is ugly and stupid, like going to the mall; the unfree market is just as ugly and just as stupid except there’s nothing for sale at the mall and if you don’t go there they shoot you.

Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence,and a Bad Haircut — Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1995
25 Years of P. J. O’Rourke

Author’s note:
This is a sort of memoir in anthology form, or as close to a memoir as I’m likely to get.Collected and briefly annotated are pieces written from 1970 to 1995 (when I got married and had kids causing, as every spouse and parent knows, nothing to ever happen in my life again).Fifteen years later I think I detect some off-key caterwauling of Walt Whitman’s tune.“I celebrate myself and sing myself.”I would be embarrassed if, in this day of Tweet, blog, and “JerseyShore,” such a thing as embarrassment existed.

All the Trouble in the World —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1994
The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty

Author’s note:
Fashionable worries.I went to see some, visitingSomaliafor the sake of its famine (the result of political-economy evils), the Amazon for the sake of its environmental degradation (the result of political-economy evils), theCzech Republicfor its pollution (ditto),Haitifor its disease (ditto), andBangladeshfor its overpopulation (ditto).Bangladeshturned out to have the same population density as the Silicon Valley commuter town ofFremont,California.Fremont, besides being filled with single-family homes with spacious lawns, has a 22,000 acre wildlife refuge inside its city limits.

The British edition had a better subtitle, “The Lighter Side of Famine, Pestilence, Destruction, and Death.”But American readers were thought to be too ill-educated to understand the reference to the Four Horsem*n of the Apocalypse, or, if they did, they’d get them mixed up with the Notre Dame backfield coached by Knute Rockne.

Give War a Chance —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1992
Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind’s Struggles Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer

Author’s note:
Partly my reporting from the Gulf War.(I accidentally got intoKuwaitbefore the liberating allies arrived—long story.)And partly reporting on the travails of communism at the end of the Cold War.I arrived inBerlinthree days after the wall opened. The party was still on. I also watched communism expire inNicaragua,Ukraine, and ex-SovietGeorgiaand watched it trying to keep itself alive inVietnam. (InVietnamthey called their Russian allies “Americans without money.”)

Parliament of whor*s —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1991
A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the EntireU.S.Government

Holiday’s in Hell —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1988
In which our intrepid reporter travels to the world’s worst places and asks, “What’s funny about this?”

Republican Party Reptile —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1987
The Confessions, Adventures, Essays, And (Other) Outrages of P. J. O’Rourke

Author’s note:
A truly miscellaneous collection containing all I’d written to date that my friend and editor (then as now) Morgan Entrekin thought anyone would ever want to read again.Includes everything fromNational Lampoonjapes andAmerican Spectator rants to coverage of the Marcos overthrow in thePhilippinesand the 1985 TWA hijacking and hostage crisis inBeirut.The book’s supposed selling point was the novelty of the author being a funny conservative. And it still is a novelty to be a funny conservative—on purpose.

The Bachelor Home Companion —Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1993(hardcover)
A Practical Guide to Keeping House Like a Pig.With photographs by Alan Rose.

also Simon & Schuster Pocket Books,New York, 1987(trade paperback)

Author’s note:
Illustrated with very funny photographs created by Alan Rose and featuring a much younger (and slimmer, darn it) author.Photo reproductions aren’t great in either edition but are somewhat better in the original Simon & Schuster paperback.

Second edition has a new foreword from the author lamenting the good old days of the Reagan administration “when tax cuts were in bloom andClintonwas in Flowers.”(Readers under 40, ask a grizzled Whitewater aficionado to explain this joke to you.)

Modern Manners (Original Edition)—Dell Publishing,New York, 1983(trade paperback)
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

Modern Manners (Revised Edition)—Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1989(hardcover)
An Etiquette Book for Rude People

Author’s note:
Robert Neubecker’s illustrations weren’t used in the revised edition. I don’t remember the reasoning behind this, but it was a loss. The prose in the revised edition was also cleaned up a bit—partly to correct my solecisms and partly to reflect the decade’s growing prudery. (AIDS had rendered certain jokes not quite as funny as they’d seemed six years before.) The original edition is more risqué.

Eight Little Civics Lessons
From the Early Days of the George W. Bush Administration
The Cato Institute, Washington, 2002

Eat the Rich
Abridged Student Edition
The Cato Institute, Washington, 1998

The American Spectator’s Enemies List
A Vigilant Journalist’s Plea for a Renewed Red Scare
Compiled and Annotated by P. J. O’Rourke
The American Spectator,Arlington,Virginia, 1990

The American Spectator’s Enemies List
Revised and Enlarged Second Edition
Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1996

NATIONAL LAMPOON SUNDAY NEWSPAPER PARODY
Edited by P. J. O’Rourke and John Hughes
National Lampoon,New York, 1978
Rugged Land,New York, 2005
(reprint)

Author’s note:
Astute readers will find, in “Dacron,Ohio,” the germ of Hughes’s “Sherman,Illinois,” where his 1980’s movies were set. The original edition was in the form of a real Sunday newspaper with all the sections and inserts wrapped in a cellophane pack.The reprint suffers from being put into a tabloid format and bound.The Newspaper Parodyprobably makes more sense to people who’ve read the1964 High School Yearbook Parody.

NATIONAL LAMPOON 1964 HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK PARODY
Edited by P. J. O’Rourke and Doug Kenny
National Lampoon,New York, 1974
Rugged Land,New York, 2003
(reprint)

Author’s note:
The Yearbook Parodyused students at aManhattanprivate school who were told, “You can either cut your hair or play an ugly girl.” Larry Kroger, the “owner” of the yearbook, shows up again as the fraternity pledge inAnimal House.

TheRuggedLandreprint contains some extra material such as the “C. Estes Kefauver Class of 1964 12thYear 10thReunion” published inNational Lampoonin 1976 and a “Where Are They Now?” update.But the photo reproduction is poor.The quality is also poor in the reprints publishedby National Lampoonafter the magazine was sold to the League for the Prevention of Humor in the 1980s.

THE DREADED FEAST
Writers on Enduring the Holidays
Edited by Michele Clarke and Taylor Plimpton
Abrams,New York, 2009
“Give It a Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen”

INTERVIEWS WITH HUNTER S. THOMPSON
Ancient Gonzo Wisdom
Edited by Anita Thompson
Da Capo Press,Cambridge,MA, 2009
Interviews forRolling Stonein November 1987 and November 1996

LEADERSHIP
Oliphant Cartoons & Sculptures from the Bush Years
By Pat Oliphant
Andrews McMeel Publishing,Kansas City, 2007
Foreword

GOOD ROOTS
Writers Reflect on Growing Up inOhio
Edited by Lisa Watts
OhioUniversityPress,Athens,OH, 2007
“Why It’s Good to Come from Nowhere”

WHY I TURNED RIGHT
Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys
Edited by Mary Eberstadt
Threshold Editions,New York, 2007
“The Unthinking Man’s Guide to Conservatism”

WHY I AM A REAGAN CONSERVATIVE
Edited by Michael Deaver
William Morrow,New York, 2005
“The Shocking Convictions and Astonishing Grabbiness of the Left”

THE WEEKLY STANDARD
A Reader: 1995–2005
Edited by William Kristol
HarperCollins,New York, 2005
“Mrs. Clinton’s Very, Very Bad Book”

WAIT WAIT… DON’T TELL ME!
The Oddly Informative News Quiz
Rodale, 2002

TOWARDLIBERTY
25 Years of Public Policy from the Cato Institute
Edited by David Boaz
Cato Institute, Washington, 2002
“The Right to Do as You Please and Take the Consequences”

BUSTED
Stone Cowboys, Narco-Lords, andWashington’s War on Drugs
Edited by Mike Gray
Nation Books,New York, 2002
“My Problem with the War on Drugs”

CHINAIN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Market Reforms and Social Development
Edited by James A. Dorn
Cato Institute, Washington, 1998
“Getting Over Equality”

BACKWAD AND UPWARD
The New Conservative Writing
Edited by David Brooks
Vintage Books,New York, 1996
“TheLibertyManifesto”

ROAD TRIPS, HEAD TRIPS, AND OTHER CAR-CRAZED WRITINGS
Edited by Jean Lindamood
Atlantic Monthly Press,New York, 1996
Introduction and “Border Patrol”

SECOND THOUGHTS
Former Radicals Look Back at the Sixties
Edited by Peter Collier and David Horowitz
MadisonBooks, Lanham, MD, 1989
“The Awful Power of Make-Believe”

NATIONAL LAMPOON TENTH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY 1970–1980
National Lampoon,New York, 1979

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