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Damn!: A Book of Calumny
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Damn!: A Book of Calumny

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  241 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into pri ...more
Paperback, 110 pages
Published May 25th 2011 by Nabu Press (first published 1918)
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Apr 26, 2011 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“It is the misfortune of humanity that its history is chiefly written by third-rate men.”—page 13

“He [Washington] had no belief in the infallible wisdom of the common people, but regarded them as inflammatory dolts, and tried to save the republic from them.”—page 2

None other, I am convinced, has ever been as skilled at the use of words in the American language, as the ‘irascible curmudgeon,’ H. L. Mencken. Certainly Boyle, Michener, Twain and Robbins all competently aspire
Jun 06, 2016 Neide rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Não é que não tenha gostado do estilo e da acidez. Mas é muito áspero ler ideias tão machistas de um jornalista influente e que escreveu por 38 anos em um jornal relevante. Muitos temas são abordados de maneira cínica, o que é delicioso de ler. Suas críticas à humanidade geral são bem engraçadas. As críticas musicais e literárias são muito legais.
Mar 06, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
H.L. Mencken wrote prolifically and fervently on many subjects. He was regarded as a leading scholar on Nietzsche, as well as being quite well-versed on classical music.

Mostly, he was opinionated. And hysterically funny.

I remember watching Dave Kingman play baseball back in the 70's and 80's. He struck out a huge percentage of the time, and only batted .236. What Kingman did better than most, though, was hit home runs. Huge, towering, gargantuan, tape-measure blasts. His failures were many, but
May 24, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Has anyone ever managed to write so clearly from a personal conviction as Mencken did? "Damn, A book of Calumny" is a collection of writings by H.L. Mencken without a clear narrative. Unless of course we consider the personality of Mencken as the real narrative of this collection. He writes with conviction and eloquence, a man who convinces you of his point simply by explaining it and without shying away from sensitivities and conventions. His interests are extremely wide and his opinions both n ...more
Charles Berteau
Jul 04, 2014 Charles Berteau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review carried forward from "I'm Reading"

Two people I respect very much - my late father Marvin Berteau and my friend of 30+ years, Danny Heitman - are huge fans of H.L. Mencken, the influential journalist/essayist/satirist of the early 20th century. Two such people can't be wrong, so over the summer I decided to read a little Mencken. I found Damn! A Book of Calumny for free on the Gutenberg project and read it a couple of months ago.

This book is definitely not for everyone - Mencken spares few
Oct 14, 2013 Morad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Apart from some really good or even brilliant points this book is actually rubbish!
A mixture of sexism, racism and some blunt generalisations that will leave you wonder if it's written by Mencken or a red neck teenager!
He lived and wrote this book decades ago but that doesn't justify some strange ideas that don't even make a solid point or respectful opinion.. something like saying the zoo is useless and doesn't add to the mentality or personality to anyone even children or even professors as
Andrew Weitzel
Feb 16, 2016 Andrew Weitzel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I see people comparing HL Mencken to Hunter S Thompson in the comments here, which is a fair assessment. However, that's not my first choice of comparison. I see Mencken as an earlier Christopher Hitchens, or even a Mark Steyn. While Hunter would would wreck your favorite social institutions by employing his signature absurdity, Mencken achieves the same effect with only a few acerbic sentences. His style is more laconic and sarcastic, much like Hitchens and Steyn.

Anyway, this particular collect
Nathan Worcester
Ain't that a kick in the pantaloons - this book is just long enough to fulfill whatever contractual obligation he was under. I wish I could write a more charitable review. I added this title to represent my current dip into Mencken's ratiocinations. Elitism unbounded, of course, but nothing to justify the type of outraged squawking he can elicit from some. He even argues against eugenics, at least the way Americans of his day were going about it.

The pleasure and the peril of Mencken are rooted i
In college one of my writing text books sang the praises of H. L. Mencken. He was the master of simplicity and clarity. Naturally I had high hopes for his writing. In his ability to construct a sentence, paragragh, and essay I have no qualms. He writes impeccibly. However, what he says in this batch of essays leaves much to be desired.

He was a social critic but it comes off more like a curmudgeon. He uses every available opportunity to rail against Christianity and many times he shoehorns it in.
Daniel Judge
Jan 01, 2014 Daniel Judge rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
I've been interested in HL Mencken for several years due to some quotes of his I read on the internet. This was my first book by Mencken I've read and it was full of blabbing material and crazy beliefs on a variety of topics. He has some great quotes but by-and-large the book is below-average.

Favorite quotes:

1. "It is the misfortune of humanity that its history is chiefly written by third-rate men."

2. "Moral values change too often to have any serious validity of interest; what is a virtue today
One Flew
Apr 07, 2014 One Flew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first introduction to Mencken and I genuinely enjoyed it. I've heard his name from Hunter S Thompson and PJ O'Rourke's writing and he fits into the same genre as them, part satirist, part arsehole and mostly a passionate enthusiast on countless subjects. I read a few of the other reviews on this work which slammed him for being sexist, racist and so on... but I think it doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with any one of his many views, its a matter of enjoying how he voices his ...more
May 05, 2016 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Very short. It wasn't bad, but not especially interesting. Nothing he says is really unique today, but may have had a bigger impact when it was written.

Lots of good quotes. The sections/essays are really short, so it can be good to read in bits and pieces.

“The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.”

I know Fante was a big fan. His longer stuff may be better.
Aug 20, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is minor Mencken, a collection of short essays - ranging from a paragraph or two, to a few pages. It's occasionally amusing, but it's not specific enough or deep enough to really illuminate anything, as his best criticism can. It's still plenty enjoyable, as he remains a master stylist, but probably the kind of thing a fan would enjoy more - by which I mean I doubt it would make for a good introduction to the author.
Jul 01, 2011 Gerald rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hey I thought I would love this guy. But I realize I'd never read all that much of him. I had him shelved in my mind with Wodehouse, Perelman, and Thurber.

But his is not so much wit as irascible rant, at least in this collection of short essays. He's racist, sexist, dyspeptic, and snobbish. And prideful rather than clueless about being so.

But I'll probably read more of him. (Free Kindle book BTW)
Jun 11, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture, 2006
So the other night on The O'Reilly Factor their word of the day was calumny, except Bill O'Reilly didn't know the word and pronounced it "cal-money".

"No hostess in Christendom ever arranged a dinner party of any pretensions without including at least one intensely disagreeable person—a vain and vapid girl, a hideous woman, a follower of baseball, a stock-broker, a veteran of some war or other, a gabbler of politics. And one is enough to do the business." -- XIV
Jun 05, 2015 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book by Mencken I ever read and it is still my favorite. Essentially a collections of maxims and very short form essays it displays Mencken's wit and skill in the use of the English language. I would recommend the essays "Virtuous Vandalism", "Zoos" and "Free Will". Free on Amazon or Gutenberg.
May 14, 2012 Seth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, essays
Nobody can deny that Mencken has a sharp tongue and that he wields it well—and if wit was enough to hide the sophistry, he would be very persuasive. As such, I enjoyed this collection of brief thoughts and mini-essays simply for the quality of the prose. But Mencken’s misogyny, cynicism and secular arrogance is thoroughly unconvincing.
Sep 07, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
My first Mencken book. The book is basically a collection of Mencken's commentary on a variety of issues that he saw fit to expound upon, some as short as a few sentences, the longest not more than a few pages. Ballsy and hilarious, though I definitely found myself tugging my collar at some of the things he had to say. A quick read and well worth your time.
Apr 26, 2015 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book of short essays condemning all sorts of sins. Some of them don't make a lot of sense today, but his writing is always clear and opinionated. "The best thing about the Jewish religion is that it's not true."
Jonathan Lomelí
Jul 20, 2011 Jonathan Lomelí rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un disfrutable libro de ensayos con un fino humor negro para hablar de religión, ciencia, crítica literaria y otros temas. Por ejemplo, el divertido ensayo sobre la inutilidad y despropósito de los zoológicos, que el autor detesta. Hay que leer más de este autor.
Feb 15, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, punchy, erudite and witty essays from one of the world's great curmudgeons, railing on mankind, theology and art. If Mencken was alive today, he would be (once he got done damning the required technology) an avid and essential blogger.
Nov 20, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fresh and exciting book (and it's free on Kindle and at Project Gutenberg). There are of course some dated references, but it's mighty prescient for 1918. Mencken was definitely an inspiration for Christopher Hitchens.
I wish I found this book sooner. An old book but it still has relevance to the current world as we live today. I enjoyed it immensely. Written in 1918.
Apr 17, 2016 Jaymie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh ...

While there are some cleverly worded quips in this text, I found that I didn't enjoy this book much at all.
May 01, 2012 Josh rated it liked it
My first foray into Mencken's essays. This guy could really turn a phrase. It's kind of like reading Chesterton or Wodehouse, if they were arrogant, sexist, pessimistic anti-theists.
Rick Davis
Mar 01, 2013 Rick Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Mencken writes with the wit and clarity of Chesterton combined with the pessimism and cynicism of Twain. His opinions are abrasive and unpopular, but the book is a fun little romp.
Apr 23, 2016 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I always really enjoys racial stereotypes, good old time humour. Mencken was a funny guy. Unfortunately, on the short side.
Luciano Machado Tomaz
Um dos livros mais bem-humorados e mordazes que já li.
Feb 16, 2016 Jimbo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mencken reminds me of a radio talk show host or two who don't seem to really like much other than the sound of their own voices....
Jun 20, 2014 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caustic reflections on popular opinions and contemporary/ historical characters. The book was in its second printing in 1918.
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Henry Louis "H.L." Mencken became one of the most influential and prolific journalists in America in the 1920s and '30s, writing about all the shams and con artists in the world. He attacked chiropractors and the Ku Klux Klan, politicians and other journalists. Most of all, he attacked Puritan morality. He called Puritanism, "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
At the height o
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“Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.” 14 likes
“I do not pretend, of course, that I have never done it; mere politeness forces one to it; there are women who sulk and grow bellicose unless one at least makes the motions of kissing them. But what I mean is that I have never found the act a tenth part as agreeable as poets, the authors of musical comedy librettos, and (on the contrary side) chaperones and the gendarmerie make it out. The physical sensation, far from being pleasant, is intensely uncomfortable—the suspension of respiration, indeed, quickly resolves itself into a feeling of suffocation—and the posture necessitated by the approximation of lips and lips is unfailingly a constrained and ungraceful one. Theoretically, a man kisses a woman perpendicularly, with their eyes, those "windows of the soul," synchronizing exactly. But actually, on account of the incompressibility of the nasal cartilages, he has to incline either his or her head to an angle of at least 60 degrees, and the result is that his right eye gazes insanely at the space between her eyebrows, while his left eye is fixed upon some vague spot behind her. An instantaneous photograph of such a maneuvre, taken at the moment of incidence, would probably turn the stomach of even the most romantic man, and force him, in sheer self-respect, to renounce kissing as he has renounced leap-frog and walking on stilts.” 5 likes
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