I thought that the below Amazon review of Michael Hyde’s The Life-Giving Gift of Acknowledgment (Purdue 2005), in its unironic anti-intellectuality and impatience with anything not conventionally “normal,” inadvertently channelled Sarah Palin. It was as if the person had accidentally walked into the wrong aisle of a bookstore and went home to complain to her best friend about the bad experience:
This book somehow received a recent plug in one of the mainstream women’s magazines (The November BH&G I think). To get a sense of where I am coming from, more often I read books recommended in the FT. I bought this book to give as a gift, expecting it to be along the lines of a personal development type of book, written for the average person. I didn’t expect some sort of dissertation with every oddball in history filling page after page of the massive index in the back. I quite like a large index if there is a need for it, but a book with a title like this I expected to be somewhat more lightweight. I was frankly horrified to see Osama bin Laden in the index. My advice is this – if you have more education than a master’s degree, you might have a chance of deciphering it. A remote chance. I think it’s a doctoral thesis. I sent it back, because there is no way I was going to take another stab at it. I mostly read non-fiction – ordinarily not the self-help stuff, it’s usually all crap, but this was meant to be a gift I was going to share with a partner. I should not have had this much trouble understanding it. A book with a title such as this should not have been way over my head and should not have had all those crazy entries listed in the index. Someone out there might enjoy it, but that person was definitely not me.
I think that the reviewer can’t be faulted for being tricked by the title. Michael Hyde actually isn’t an especially difficult academic to read—he’s not writing in postmodern jargon, for instance—but I can understand, from the title, her confusion and disappointment if she was just looking for a middle-brow gift. But getting weirded out because Osama bin Laden is discussed in the book? And calling the index list “crazy” and containing a collection of “oddballs”? I’m sorry, but that sounds like Sarah Palin thinking aloud.
Was it Sarah Palin?