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Wednesday Book Review Blogging: Marisa Lingen on Robert A. Heinlein In Dialogue With His Century: Vol. 2: The Man Who Learned Better, 1948-1988, by William H. Patterson, Jr.

Marisa Lingen has it 100% right on this.

I really do feel for the book's editor, David Hartwell, in trying to wrestle this thing. But he really should have changed his name to "Cordwainer Bird" for this project...

Marisa Lingen: Robert A. Heinlein In Dialogue With His Century: Vol. 2: The Man Who Learned Better, 1948-1988, by William H. Patterson, Jr.: "You would think that Robert Heinlein was a writer who could, if he chose...

...offend plenty of people all on his own without any help. But he has not been left to his own post mortem devices in this! Oh no! No, he has the assistance of William H. Patterson, Jr., to make sure that no stone is left unturned if it might have creeping, crawling things under it that represent stomach-turning levels of ignorance....

Oh, sorry, maybe I should start this review more straightforwardly: I did not like and do not recommend this book.

Let’s go with the paragraph that brought actual tears of rage to my eyes:

They [the Heinleins] had both fallen in love with the northern countries on their earlier trips, but Finland (which does not consider itself to be “Scandinavian”) was special even among them, with a national character of fierce resoluteness–sisu–that precisely suited their mood on this occasion. The Suomic “do what must be done” was the only attitude that a free people could possibly take, living next door to the Soviet Union. The Baltic states–Latvia, estonia, Lithuania–did not have it, and they had been eaten up by the USSR.

That last piece of toxically inaccurate drivel... is William Patterson slandering the people of the Baltic states–using Finland to do it, no less!–on his own hook. For fun. Because it suits his own political agenda.... William Patterson was an American of the Baby Boom generation who decided that what a biography of Robert Heinlein most needed–what people reading about Robert Heinlein most needed–was to have lies about these people just tossed into their reading material for giggles. Because, you know, most people who pick up biographies of mid-century science fiction writers read reams about the history of the Baltic region and can easily have this kind of blatant falsehood countered rather than lodged in the back of their brain as the truth about the people of this region. Most of my regular readers know that I am a serious Finnophile. I find it all the more offensive to have Finland used as a club on other countries that did not have the advantages of geography and political support. This is just wrong. I used up all my obscenities on this yesterday when I was reading, and believe me, I used many. Today I’m left drained. Today I can just say: this is so very wrong.

I wish that was only one thing. I wish that was the only time that the staggering arrogance of Patterson’s ignorance made itself known in this volume. But alas...

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