From the much-loved, witty and excoriating voice of journalist Nick Cohen, a powerful and irreverent dissection of the agonies, idiocies and compromises of mainstream liberal thought.
Nick Cohen comes from the Left. While growing up, his mother would search the supermarket shelves for politically reputable citrus fruit and despair. When, at the age of 13, he found out that his kind and thoughtful English teacher voted Conservative, he nearly fell off his chair: 'To be good, you had to be on the Left.'
Today he's no less confused. When he looks around him, in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, he sees a community of Left-leaning liberals standing on their heads. Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam that stands for everything the liberal-Left is against come from a section of the Left? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the Left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal-Left, but not, for instance, China, the Sudan, Zimbabwe or North Korea? Why can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a liberal literary journal as in a neo-Nazi rag? It's easy to know what the Left is fighting against – the evils of Bush and corporations – but what and, more to the point, who are they fighting for?
As he tours the follies of the Left, Nick Cohen asks us to reconsider what it means to be liberal in this confused and topsy-turvy time. With the angry satire of Swift, he reclaims the values of democracy and solidarity that united the movement against fascism, and asks: What's Left?
'A roaring polemic of outrage against the moral and political crisis of the liberal tradition. It is already one of the most discussed current affairs books of the new year…At the very least it forces anyone on the left to think carefully about where their movement has ended up in the modern world.' The Guardian
‘The book is a superbly sustained polemic.' Sunday Times
‘Exceptional and necessary…Do not feel you have to be a leftist or liberal to read it, because it engages with an argument that it crucial for all of us, and for our time.’ Christopher Hitchens, Sunday Times
‘This is a brave, honest and brilliant book. Every page has a provocative insight that makes you want to shake the author's hand or collar him for an argument. Who could ask for more?’ The Observer
'(He writes with) a genuine passion and human sympathy about people who have experienced appalling suffering.' Michael Burleigh, The Evening Standard
‘Undoubtedly controversial and provocative “What’s Left?” is, as its title suggests, a bleakly witty but perhaps dimly hopeful examination of what it means to be liberal in an age where the lines that have been drawn in the sand are in danger of being washed away.’ Waterstones Books Quarterly
‘One of the most powerful denunciations of the manner in which the Left has lost its way…Cohen's is a brave voice.'
Michael Gove, The Spectator
'Nick Cohen explains how contemporary liberals have lost their way with his usual polemical brio.' The Observer
'An essay of wide reference and great brilliance.' John Lloyd, Financial Times