Journalism from London.
Winner of Political Polemic of the Year 2013 Political Book Awards
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"Nick Cohen’s books are like the best Smiths songs; however depressing the content, the execution is so shimmering, so incandescent with indignation that the overall effect is uplifting." Julie Burchill - Prospect
“Nick Cohen’s brilliant broadside against censorship in an age of freedom.” Richard Dawkins
"Cohen is right that the struggle for freedom of speech is a political struggle. The internet does not itself liberate, Cohen reminds us. Cohen celebrates Milton's Areopagitica (1644) and Mill's On Liberty (1859). His own book stands alongside them." Anthony Julius, Standpoint.
"He has a sense of history and literature, in contrast to the dominant political generation of PPE graduates who have read every page of the Economist since they were at Oxford, but have never opened a novel." Denis MacShane, the Observer.
"At the risk of winning the Order of the Brown Nose, Cohen is perhaps the most insightful, thought-provoking and entertaining political writer in Britain today, and comes from the honest tradition of English liberal thought that threads from John Milton to John Stuart Mill and George Orwell; for that reason he has fallen out with the dishonest liberal tradition, a split that began with the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie on Valentine’s Day, 1989. He has that rare trait of being fair to all parties, refreshing in the tribal atmosphere of political debate, which has no doubt angered sectarians on his side." Ed West, The Telegraph
"Cohen is a friendly and engaging writer, who combines the solitary scholar’s extraordinary range of reference with a bon-vivant wit and warmth. A lover of contemporary fiction, his polemics read like novels. He finishes his book with a list of ways to fight back."Max Dunbar 3am Magazine
"The author has no time for artists, comedians and "loud-mouthed newspaper columnists" who pose as the moral equivalents of dissenters in repressive regimes, as they fearlessly speak truth to power, knowing that power will never go after them. On more delicate matters, meanwhile, they preserve a cowardly or self-interested silence. Cohen is a political animal, but with this free-thinking man of the Left there is no sense of the hedging, elisions or contrarian games so familiar in the field. A nose for censorship, of the silent or bullying variety, means not just carrying a powerful bullshit detector, which he does, but being your own man. And God knows there are few enough of those."
George Walden, London Evening Standard
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"After all, there are thousands and thousands of middle-aged lefties for whom their once-revolutionary “credentials” are all they have left to show for a lifetime of “activism”, and who could not face their friends — or, perhaps, their students — if they found themselves endorsing a war fought by British or American soldiers. (I myself remember repressing a twinge of annoyance at the idea that the assault on civilisation represented by the 9/11 attacks would drive my anti-Kissinger book from the front page where I still believe it belonged.) But Cohen goes further: “I wanted anything associated with Tony Blair to fail, because that would allow me to return to the easy life of attacking him.”
It is this sentence, and its implications, that make his book an exceptional and necessary one. Cohen has no problem with those who are upset about state-sponsored exaggerations of the causes of war, or furious about the bungled occupation of Iraq that has ensued. People who think this is the problem are not his problem. Here’s his problem: the people who would die before they would applaud the squaddies and grunts who removed hideous regimes from Afghanistan and Iraq, yet who happily describe Islamist video-butchers and suicide-murderers as a “resistance”. Those who do this are not “anti-war” at all, but are shadily taking the other side in a conflict where the moral and civilisational stakes are extremely high."
Christopher Hitchens, Sunday Times
"Nick Cohen's roaring polemic of outrage against the moral and political crisis of the liberal tradition. It is already one of the most discussed current affairs books of the new year. At the very least it forces, or ought to force, anyone on the left to think carefully about where their movement has ended up in the modern world. Martin Kettle, The Guardian
"The psychology of the left wing is hauntingly displayed by Nick Cohen" Philip Hensher, The Spectator