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Prejudices: A Selection

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  12 reviews

With a style that combined biting sarcasm with the "language of the free lunch counter," Henry Louis Mencken shook politics and politicians for nearly half a century.

These thirty-five essays — each a stick of dynamite with a burning fuse — have been selected from six volumes originally published between 1919 and 1927.

Paperback, 258 pages
Published February 12th 1958 by Vintage (first published 1927)
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....And, actually, I'm going to say that it verges on two stars.

I've heard a lot about HL Mencken, most of it approving and well-nigh worshipful, and I saw this copy laid out on a shelf by random chance the other day and figured now was a good time to delve into it. Some professor must have chucked it and left it to be given away or pulped and I was happy to have found it.

I just finished it on the bus today and I gotta say it's perfect bus/commute/passing the time reading. Punchy, funny, sparkli...more
Ike Sharpless
Four stars not because I agree with Mencken's politics - generally, I don't, although the idea that "democracy is the idea that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard" sometimes sounds pretty accurate - but because he speaks his mind even, and especially, when most people would just shut up and let groupthink step in. Society needs contrarians, even libertarian ones.
Mencken's views on the police in several of his essays show he knew they were a threat to liberty, or at the very least, a rude awakening for people who think we have liberty. He notes that if they come to your house in error, you tell them so, and then flee their obviously mean intent, they will cheerfully beat you to the pulp in any state of this union.

His assessment of critics of each age as mostly unable to correctly appreciate the better artists of their age was true then, and now. His ass...more
Matt Cavedon
Endearingly Nietzschean, for an American; fantastic humor, rhetoric, and observations
For a follower of Nietzsche, Mencken is a strange old bird. Nietzsche went after Jesus and Socrates. HLM fulminated against William Jennings Bryan and the chatauqua. However, there is some great stuff in here. An appreciation of music critic James Huneker that sent me to his work. An essay on Baltimore vs. New York that Chesterton could have written. He was certainly correct that Prohibition was a lunatic stab by the country against the city, and The Husbandman is one of the truest things writte...more
(walter cronkite + edward murrow + hunter thompson + jon stewart + stephen colbert + keith olbermann) x 500 = 1/10 the talent, erudition, wit, morality, and character of h.l. mencken. oh, if only american journalism had anyone remarkably comparable today.
Jul 18, 2007 Jesse rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: men who part their hair right down the middle
I actually have a lovely old two-volume 1920s edition given to me by a friend. The literal mustiness of the pages makes the intermittently musty bits more palatable. Some of it's still sharp. He was a tack, that Mencken.
Not much to say, it's Mencken. It's brilliant. Surprised no one's bothered referencing his essay "The Cult of Hope" in discussing Obama.
Juliana Rausch
why didn't someone tell me i'm not smart enough to read mencken? i am filled with self-hatred since reading prejudices.

Robert Pirkola
If the word irreverent hadn't been invented it would have been coined for Mencken.
Grim-Anal King
Good writing; mostly apposite disdain; even the nonsense is good nonsense.
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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...more
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