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Damn! A book of Calumny

H. L. Mencken

Book Overview: 

Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English. Known as the “Sage of Baltimore”, he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century. Mencken is perhaps best remembered today for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States, and for his satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he named the “Monkey” trial.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Revolution. The one[Pg 20] thing that can be said in favor of it is that it is not true, and yet we suffer from it almost as much as if it were true. But with it, encasing it and preserving it, there has come something that is positively valuable—something, indeed, that is beyond all price—and that is Jewish poetry. To compare it to the poetry of any other race is wholly impossible; it stands completely above all the rest; it is as far beyond the next best as German music is beyond French music, or French painting beyond English painting, or the English drama beyond the Italian drama. There are single chapters in the Old Testament that are worth all the poetry ever written in the New World and nine-tenths of that written in the Old. The Jews of those ancient days had imagination, they had dignity, they had ears for sweet sound, they had, above all, the faculty of grandeur. The stupendous music that issued from them has swept their barbaric demonology along wit. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Review carried forward from "I'm Reading"

Two people I respect very much - my late father Marvin Berteau and my friend of 30+ years, Danny Heitman - are huge fans of H.L. Mencken, the influential journalist/essayist/satirist of the early 20th century. Two such people can't be wrong, so...more

Has anyone ever managed to write so clearly from a personal conviction as Mencken did? "Damn, A book of Calumny" is a collection of writings by H.L. Mencken without a clear narrative. Unless of course we consider the personality of Mencken as the real narrative of this collection. He writes with...more

In Damn! A Book of Calumny, H.L. Mencken gives his opinion on a wide variety of subjects ranging from William Jennings Bryan, through Classical Music, to Zoos. I am a huge fan of Mencken’s hilarious, bombastic, and sesquipedalian style. He is the quintessential American cynic and it’s a lot of fu...more

H.L. Mencken wrote prolifically and fervently on many subjects. He was regarded as a leading scholar on Nietzsche, as well as being quite well-versed on classical music.

Mostly, he was opinionated. And hysterically funny.

I remember watching Dave Kingman play baseball back in the 70's...more

I enjoyed this book.

Surprisingly tame.

Mencken was a journalist, an essayist, and most of all a contrarian. Damn! is a short collection of his essays that were handpicked by Mencken himself. An eloquent writer, Mencken can be a little sassy (some would even call bigoted) at times. Nonetheless, his style is worth noting and replicating in a...more

Não é que não tenha gostado do estilo e da acidez. Mas é muito áspero ler ideias tão machistas de um jornalista influente e que escreveu por 38 anos em um jornal relevante. Muitos temas são abordados de maneira cínica, o que é delicioso de ler. Suas críticas à humanidade geral são bem engraçadas....more

A ROLLICKING GOOD READ.

“It is the misfortune of humanity that its history is chiefly written by third-rate men.”—page 13

“He [Washington] had no belief in the infallible wisdom of the common people, but regarded them as inflammatory dolts, and tried to save the republic fro...more

I see people comparing HL Mencken to Hunter S Thompson in the comments here, which is a fair assessment. However, that's not my first choice of comparison. I see Mencken as an earlier Christopher Hitchens, or even a Mark Steyn. While Hunter would would wreck your favorite social institutions by e...more

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