web analytics
October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

Non-Fiction, We Presumed



There’s nothing worse than finding an error of fact in a non-fiction book. It sort of makes the reader wonder whether finishing it is worth the effort. The Monitor has had several such unpleasant moments in recent weeks while perusing books ranging in tone from silly to somber.

Kissing Bill O’Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy (St. Martin’s Press) is a slender volume of mini-essays by film and TV critic Ken Tucker. Thumbing through the book at a local bookstore, the Monitor chanced upon a reference to “the late Richard Moll,” the actor who played the towering, good-natured Bailiff Bull in the mid-1980′s hit sitcom “Night Court.” Richard Moll dead? The news came as a complete surprise – with good reason, it turned out, as a Google search later that day confirmed that Moll is very much alive. (He’s also the son-in-law of the late Milton Berle, who happens to be genuinely dead.)

The Monitor, something of an aficionado of old TV shows, next turned to the chapter on the 1960′s “Batman” series. Talk about an error-filled mess. Tucker has the show premiering in 1964, when in fact it debuted in January 1966. He claims there were “no fewer than three incarnations of Catwoman (Julie Newmar, Lee Meriweather, and Eartha Kitt),” when in fact Meriwether (Tucker misspelled her name) only appeared in the feature-length theatrical release, never in the TV series. And he writes that the show “burned out through overexposure after a mere two seasons,” when in fact it lived on for a third season (1967-68) with the character of Batgirl added to the cast.

A more serious book is Jonathan Mahler’s Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), an account of New York City in the eventful year of 1977 as seen through the prism of mayoral politics and the New York Yankees’ world championship season. Mahler describes Massachusetts Congressman Tip O’Neill as being “in his final weeks as Speaker of the House” – in the fall of 1976. In fact, O’Neill first began his tenure as Speaker of the House in 1977. A relatively trivial mistake, to be sure, but still disconcerting when found in a quality book from a prestigious publisher.

Victor Navasky, publisher of the left-wing Nation magazine, is out with a memoir called A Matter of Opinion (also published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Twice in the space of two pages he has rival opinion journal National Review commencing operations in 1956, when in fact it was 1955. Navasky also relates an anecdote in which he has the journalist and Communist-turned-conservative Whittaker Chambers working as a contributing editor at National Review in 1963, when in fact Chambers died in 1961.

The Monitor had looked forward to reading David Harris’s The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah – 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam (Little, Brown) – until, that is, a quick skim of it revealed a slew of embarrassing errors.

Harris, for one thing, botched the identification of a television special on Senator Edward Kennedy that – due to its unflattering portrait of the Massachusetts senator and its airing on the evening of Nov. 4, 1979, coincidentally the very day mobs seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran – quickly entered the annals of American political folklore.

According to Harris the Kennedy fiasco was a segment on “60 Minutes,” when in fact it was an hour-long CBS News documentary hosted by veteran CBS news hand Roger Mudd, who had nothing to do with “60 Minutes.”

But what really convinced the Monitor to forgo the Harris book was a quick read of the epilogue in which readers are supposedly brought up to date on the story’s central characters. In one howler, Harris writes that Warren Christopher (a deputy secretary in the Jimmy Carter State Department) “returned to Washington and served eight years as secretary of state” under Bill Clinton, when in fact Christopher served just one term, replaced after Clinton’s reelection by Madeleine Albright.

Harris makes an equally bad mistake in tracking Walter Mondale (Carter’s vice president) whom he describes as having “returned briefly to the U.S. Senate in 2002 to fill out the few months remaining in the unexpired term of Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone, killed in a plane crash,” when in fact Mondale never “returned” to the Senate, even for a second – he was merely a candidate during the last week of the campaign, losing to Republican Norm Coleman. Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed Dean Barkley, a close associate, to serve the remainder of Wellstone’s term.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Non-Fiction, We Presumed”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Indepth Stories
Eller-102414-Cart

I had to hire a babysitter so that I could go shopping or have someone come with me to push Caroline in her wheelchair.

Bills to restore the balance of power in Israel will be fought by the not-so-judicial left.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Front-Page-102414

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

Assemblyman Hikind talks with a group of Israeli solders.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/non-fiction-we-presumed/2005/05/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: