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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Essential Ellen Willis (University of Minnesota Press), edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz

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The rediscovery of Ellen Willis (1941-2006), which began with the publication of her rock criticism collection Out of the Vinyl Deeps (2011), continues with an anthology of political and cultural essays of wider scope. The Essential includes an excellent analysis of the O.J. Simpson trial, a penetrating critique of Louis Farrakhan’s embrace by liberals and a brilliant exegesis of “The Sopranos.” Even when the topics are dated, Willis’ thinking remains provocative. She wasn’t always right, as proven by her praise for Iraqi schemer Ahmed Chalabi as one of the “good guys”; her dream of the Iraqi masses welcoming secular liberalism was the carnival mirror reflection of the Bush administration’s own rationale for conquest. (David Luhrssen)