Magazine article The Spectator

'The (Un)Documented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned', by Mark Steyn - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'The (Un)Documented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned', by Mark Steyn - Review

Article excerpt

The (Un)Documented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned Mark Steyn

Regnery, pp.442, £19.99, ISBN: 9781621573180

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Mark Steyn is sort of a hairy, successful version of me-- a civilised, larky type of chap who was just tootling along minding his own biz and scribbling about his favourite show-tunes when -- crash, bang, wallop! -- he found himself on the frontline of commentating on the clash of civilisations. He is obsessed with the fact that Islamism poses the greatest risk to peace, progress and piano bars since the second world war and is unable to comprehend why so many people seem so bovinely oblivious to this fact.

Like Richard Littlejohn -- another fine, undervalued writer -- he is unfashionable, not using 20 words when two will do and never apologising for being alive. I don't agree with him on everything -- but who fears being challenged in their beliefs except someone not entirely secure in them? I'm with him -- as I am with Melanie Phillips -- on foreign affairs, while differing drastically with him over domestic matters -- abortion, the family. But (unlike Phillips) Steyn's tone is so light and breezy that you are lulled into a chummy sense of accord -- only to have him turn on a sixpence.

It's as though one minute you're nattering over the garden fence to a neighbour, dishing the dirt on the weirdo down the road, and the next minute he's waving a gun at you; Steyn approves of firearms, and is a fount of information on the benefits of the right to bear them. He fawns over the British monarchy a bit too effusively for my liking -- but maybe it is something to do with being Canadian. Anyway, I was occasionally reminded of the words of Miss Jean Brodie: 'For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.'

And Steyn's writing is so rompily gorgeous that you can forgive him a bit of chest-beating and rifle-riffing. 'If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't there; if you can remember the Seventies, chances are you aren't here.' 'The photographs of Studio 54's celebrity couples are like a computer breakdown at a dating agency -- William Burroughs and Madonna; Regine and Salvador Dalí; Margaret Trudeau on the floor with marijuana-importer Tom Sullivan. …

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