Unabomber said to state a crucial point poorly

MAGAZINES

September 24, 1995|By Bruce McCabe | Bruce McCabe,BOSTON GLOBE

The Unabomber's letter is a "woodenly written term paper" and "it's a shame" because the point he's trying to make about "the industrial-technological system" is "absolutely crucial for the American public to understand and ought to be on the forefront of the nation's political agenda."

So writes Kirkpatrick Sale in his deconstruction of the Unabomber and the homicidal correspondent's treatise in the Sept. 25 issue of The Nation.

Mr. Sale was allowed by the FBI to read the Unabomber's letter in its entirety.

At the request of Attorney General Janet Reno and the FBI, the Washington Post printed the 35,000-word manifesto on Tuesday.

The author of "Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution," Mr. Sale sympathizes with the Unabomber as part of a "long line of anti-technology critics where I myself have stood, and his general arguments against industrial society and its consequences are quite similar to those I have recently put forward in [my] book."

Ugly travel writers abroad

Christopher Isherwood once said that the ideal travel book "should be perhaps a little like a crime story in which you're in search of something."

Unfortunately, writes Sallie Tisdale in this month's Harper's, most travel writers ignore the advice. Ms. Tisdale takes on the biggest and most revered names in travel writing -- among them Paul Theroux, Paul Fusell and Bruce Chatwin -- and charges that among their sins is denial of their own "inevitable descent into fiction," characterized by what Ms. Tisdale archly calls their "preternatural ability to recall dialogue."

Another irritation, she writes, is the travel writer's conceit that he or she is entitled to belittle the tourist. "He disdains the stay-at-home yet entertains himself on the hospitality of rooted strangers; he tries to pass as an inconspicuous local yet hates to be ignored.

The traveler these days is, in short, an adolescent, eternally torn between being accepted and being something special."

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