Friday, May 31, 2013

The Clothes Have No Emperor

1989, edition from later that year, from St. Martin's Press
Paul Slansky
The Clothes Have No Emperor: A Chronicle of the American '80s
Original price $12.95, bought used for $4.90
Slightly worn paperback

I haven't bought very many books since I started this project, since I'm trying to stay focused on whichever time period I'm in at the moment.  But when I was reliving an earlier part of the '80s a few months ago, I couldn't resist getting this book.  I didn't mind rereading it so soon, because it nicely sums up so much of what drove me mad about the decade.  I can't rate it higher because, well, you know, it's not that enjoyable a decade to relive.  (And I disagree with Slansky on some of his comments about the music, the one aspect of the decade I can still stomach.) 

Slansky's introduction says in part, "I did not find the President's ignorance charming.  I was unwarmed by his genial head-waggling, unreassured by his stern frowns of manly purpose, uncheered by his hearty waves as he strolled to and from his limos and choppers and jets."  Wow, do I wish I could've got this book at the time it came out!  That's exactly how I felt in the '80s.  Unlike Slansky, I had neither the motivation nor the resources to collect news items (including "infotainment") reflecting the times.  He's arranged the chronicle chronologically (of course), from Election Day 1980 to Inauguration Day 1989, so yes, there's some of Dan Quayle here.  (Not as much as in Airhead Apparent, which Slansky coauthored, and which we'll get to in 1992.)  Future rivals George W. Bush and Al Gore make appearances (more of the latter of course, since he ran in '88), but dig this for irony: "a comically endless nominating speech by Arkansas governor Bill Clinton (who parlays his public humiliation into a guest shot with Johnny Carson)."  I think he parlayed it into a bit more than that.

For Slansky's more recent thoughts on Reagan, and a plug for the e-book version of this long-out-of-print work, see

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