Ferguson, Andrew 1956–
Ferguson, Andrew 1956–
Office—The Weekly Standard, 1150 17th St., N.W., Ste. 505, Washington, DC 20036.
Journalist, writer, columnist, and editor. Weekly Standard, Washington, DC, senior editor.
Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, introduction by P.J. O'Rourke, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including the National Review, Washington Post, and American Spectator.
Andrew Ferguson is a journalist and conservative-leaning columnist who, according to Commentary contributor Daniel J. Silver, is ‘admired for his style, wit, and political insight.’ Ferguson is also the author of books about celebrities and Abraham Lincoln. In his first book, Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, the author provides a series of thirty-two essays previously published in the National Review, Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. The essays examine what the author considers to be the extreme egotism of celebrities. The targets of his skewering range from Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra to public television staple Bill Moyers and even Ferguson himself, who admits to appearing as a television pundit speaking about topics that he knows little about. Silver noted: ‘In the journalistic pantheon of satirical genius, the obvious touchstone is H.L. Mencken.’ However, according to Silver: ‘Ferguson's approach is different. Unlike the self-important Mencken, he has no pretenses himself.’ Silver went on to note that the author ‘often cultivates the persona of a regular ‘boob,’ offering himself up as a kind of sacrificial Everyman, subject like the rest of us to the intellectual and cultural depredations of the world in which he lives."
In addition to satirizing people such as media mogul Ted Turner, whom the author observes reading a magazine article about his fortune while a speech is being given about reducing world hunger, the author also focuses on such ego-feeding practices as the Washington press corps dinners. Terry Teachout wrote in the National Review that the author's ‘insults are face-slappingly funny, his reporting indelibly precise.’ Despite his conservative leanings, the author focuses on both Democrats and Republicans and conservatives and liberals. For example, he writes about Republican Newt Gingrich's first day as Speaker of the House as well as former U.S. President Bill Clinton's peccadilloes. ‘Readers reveling in the humorous derision of fads and fame will enjoy … [the author's] skewerings,’ wrote Gilbert Taylor in Booklist. In a review of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces in Publishers Weekly, a contributor wrote that the author ‘takes a mordant look at Washington politics that will not go unnoticed."
Ferguson's next book, Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America, was called an ‘original, insightful, disarmingly funny book’ by a contributor to Publishers Weekly. In this book, the author presents a travelogue that examines modern Americans' views of Abraham Lincoln, which range from reverence to hate, and how these views often reflect peoples' thinking about the ‘American Dream’ and the good life, as well as their own personal problems and emphasis on what is important. In an interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Ferguson told host Steve Inskeep that he remembers Lincoln as being almost universally revered during his youth. ‘But I noticed over the years that, especially the last generation, he seemed to have been shrunk, cut to fit our own personal obsessions and biases,’ the author noted. He went on to tell Inskeep: ‘There was a book written that his greatness lay in his struggle with clinical depression written by a journalist who struggled with clinical depression. Of course, most famously there was the one in 2005 proving that Abraham Lincoln was an active homosexual written by a homosexual activist. But I wanted to see if there was still sort of a universal Lincoln that we could all draw inspiration from."
The idea for the book came from a large protest in Richmond, VA, against a proposed statue of Lincoln, leading the author to examine how people perceive Lincoln's impact on America, even today. For example, in the case of the protestors against the statue, many believed that Lincoln was the progenitor of big government and big business, and thus one of the main reasons for what they perceive as the many things that are wrong in modern America. On the other hand, the author also meets many ‘Lincoln buffs’ who collect an amazing amount of Lincoln artifacts, including small pieces of cloth that supposedly contain spatters of blood from the assassination of Lincoln. Ferguson himself is an admirer of Lincoln and told Lauren F. Winner in an interview for Publishers Weekly that Lincoln should be considered a great president because ‘he rededicated this United States to its founding principle that all human beings are created equal."
Land of Lincoln was warmly received by the critics. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Land of Lincoln as ‘colorful, opinionated, openly hostile to the new historians—and great fun to read.’ Writing in the Wilson Quarterly, Florence King noted: ‘Andrew Ferguson is a writer with perfect pitch and flawless timing who can go from hilarity to poignancy without missing a beat. Whether he is describing the seedy glories of Route 66 or the Holocaust survivor who believed Lincoln came to him in a dream, his reporter's powers of observation and his instinctive understanding of the human condition produce the satisfying blend of entertainment and instruction he delivers in this marvelous book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Enterprise, January, 1999, ‘The Year of the Goat,’ interview with author, p. 22.
Biography, summer, 2007, Joshua Wolf Shenk, review of Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America.
Booklist, September 15, 1996, Gilbert Taylor, review of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, p. 188.
Books, June 23, 2007, Elizabeth Taylor, review of Land of Lincoln, p. 2.
Book World, April 1, 2007, review of Land of Lincoln, p. 9; June 17, 2007, Harold Holzer, ‘What Would Abe Do?,’ p. 2.
Commentary, January, 1997, Daniel J. Silver, review of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, p. 67.
Entertainment Weekly, June 22, 2007, Michelle Kung, review of Land of Lincoln, p. 73.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007, review of Land of Lincoln.
Morning Edition, July 30, 2007, ‘Author Takes Fresh Look at ‘Land of Lincoln.’"
National Review, September 30, 1996, Terry Teachout, review of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, p. 70; July 9, 2007, David Harsanyi, ‘Bestriding Our History,’ p. 53.
New York Times Book Review, July 8, 2007, Joshua Wolf Shenk, ‘Lincoln Navigator,’ review of Land of Lincoln.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette, July 15, 2007, Len Barcousky, review of Land of Lincoln.
Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1996, review of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, p. 73; March 12, 2007, review of Land of Lincoln, p. 50; April 2, 2007, Lauren F. Winner, ‘PW Talks with Andrew Ferguson: In the Land of the Free: Andrew Ferguson Toured America to See How We Commemorate Honest Abe. He Reports on His Travels in Land of Lincoln,’ p. 46.
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 1996, Erich Eichman, review of Fools' Names, Fools' Faces, p. 20.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 2007, Florence King, ‘Our Inner Abes."
Morning Edition, July 30, 2007, Steve Inskeep, ‘Author Takes Fresh Look at ‘Land of Lincoln,’’ broadcast transcript.