Hassner's Bad Bad ReviewIssue: Spring 1997
The terms "good" and "bad" when applied to reviews have two very different meanings. Meaning One refers to the judgment of the review, whether it is favorable or unfavorable to the object reviewed. Meaning Two refers to the quality of the review, that is, whether the review is reasoned, accurate, informed with respect to the object reviewed, or whether it is simpleminded, superficial, irrelevant, or inaccurate. A good, that is, favorable, review may be a bad review in terms of quality, and a bad, that is, unfavorable, review may be a good review in terms of quality.
In the last issue of The National Interest, Pierre Hassner wrote a doubly bad review of my book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. In terms of Meaning One, it is highly unfavorable, which is his right to be. It is also outrageously bad in the Meaning Two sense because it is a mixture of disingenuousness, inaccuracy, misrepresentation, and calumny.