“Inspiriting and restorative”—Edward Abbey
“Kauffman and I are the original patriots”—Gore Vidal
“I’ve admired Bill Kauffman’s books for years…appealing, elegantly written, and entirely American.”—Howard Frank Mosher
“His writing is…prickly yet rambunctious, traditionalist yet gonzo, ornery yet exuberant. He generally works as an up-to-date journalist, but his books are ambitious in a pre-modernist literary way. Temperamentally drawn to the small-scale and the personal, he’s also unstoppably outgoing, rowdy, and exuberant. He’s an upbeat pessimist, both a nostalgist and a punk rocker. But encountering his work isn’t just to be swept away on energy and brains, it’s also to discover a fresh, unexpected, and fully-developed vision…None of Kauffman’s books are straightforward affairs. You’d be frustrated if you turned to them for clearly-laid-out arguments or encyclopedia-style information. Instead, they’re fullblown reading experiences: part history, part personal essay. They’re also big, heraldic, all-over-the-place prose poems—patchwork, Whitmanesque, “barbaric yawps” set to driving rock, country, and blues beats. They’re florid and funky, perverse yet open, bristling with deeply-felt exhortations and eccentric digressions, and full of comic but heart-busting rhapsodies. To the extent that I’d want to categorize his work at all, I’d put it on the same rhapsodic/eccentric, full-of-contradictions-but-that’s-the-point shelf as Edward Abbey, Henry David Thoreau, and H.L. Mencken.”—Ray Sawhill
“In a series of books, Bill Kauffman has outlined a defense of regionalism that is very much in [Russell] Kirk’s spirit….His lyrical prose elevates half-forgotten episodes and figures in American history and weaves them into a compelling countercultural story that includes Dorothy Day, Norman Mailer, Henry Clune, Calvin Coolidge, and others.”—Gerald J. Russello
“Kauffman has made an admirable career of celebrating unsung heroes and lost causes. His books include melancholy reflections on the disappearance of small-town life (Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette); a profound study of America’s localist writers, artists, and thinkers (Look Homeward, America); brilliant accounts of American non-interventionism and antiwar conservatism (America First! and Ain’t My America); and a wonderfully eccentric biography of Luther Martin, the cantankerous anti-Federalist (Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet). The last makes clear that Kauffman knows his Founders as well as any scholar on the subject.”—Thomas De Pietro
“Generous in spirit”–Christopher Hitchens
“Bill Kauffman resembles not in the least the stereotypical Don Quixote of popular reference, but he is very like that good knight as Unamuno understood him: less the Knight of the Doleful Countenance than the Knight of the Great Heart, the champion not of literary chivalry but rather of the thing itself, of Heart that refuses to be seduced by Mind.”—Chilton Williamson Jr.
About Poetry Night at the Ballpark and Other Scenes from an Alternative America (Front Porch/2015)
Although certainly no evangelical, and perhaps not familiar with the unique Christian political philosophy advanced by CPJ, Bill Kauffman is a writer of such verbal dexterity, American gusto, and surprisingly non-partisan panache that anyone interested in contemporary civic life should know his work. This anthology is a perfect way to enjoy this writer, offering 400 pages of short but well-informed essays, from book and film reviews, sports reporting, historical pieces, and political op-ed tirades.
I know of no polemicist who is more enjoyable to read; his prodigious vocabulary is full of smart whimsy and local color. Kauffman is an independent localist, a populist so fiercely in love with his region and land that he’s passionately anti-imperial. Is there such a thing as a conservative pacifist? Could there be a politico who combines the spiritual sense of place of Wendell Berry and the anti-war/anti-modernist passion of Daniel Berrigan, along with a profound appreciation for old-school Republicanism?
Kauffman’s love for local little league is evident, as is his appreciation for both the punk rock of his era and his love for middle American, old-school country outlaws like Merle Haggard. The pop culture references fly as fast as the obscure historical ones. His 2010 short review of the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird is a delight, and his cleverness shows in the title of a piece on Edmund Wilson, “Wilson’s Picket,” a fascinating look at not only Wilson’s Civil War opus, but his friendship with Robert Penn Warren and the disapproval of Arthur Schlesinger.
Poetry Night at the Ballpark is a rare and extraordinary anthology, sure to delight those who love history, politics, and popular culture, and those who enjoy creative, high-octane writing that mocks standard-fare politics in favor of a front porch, ballpark, small town patriotism.
–Byron Borger, Center for Public Justice
Over 400 pages of short columns, book reviews, essays and previously published pieces, Poetry Night at the Ballpark is extraordinary [with] an independent streak that may seem perplexing to those only used to the standard, predictable opinions of MSNBC or Fox News. — Hearts and Minds
It is hard to imagine today’s writing economy producing Kauffman’s equal, as our institutions simply lack the resources required to sustain writers like Kauffman—regular columnists who have enormous editorial freedom and whose learning is as broad as the mandate from their editor. As such, we would all do well to learn not only from Kauffman’s specific thoughts and ideas, but from the broader example he has set as a man of letters possessing the wisdom and learning needed to speak intelligently on a remarkable range of topics and subjects.
–Jake Meador, University Bookman
About Copperhead (Dzanc/2013)
“[W]ell researched, intellectually admirable, and beautifully photographed . . . Based on the novel by 19th-century historian Harold Frederic, Copperhead has a screenplay by Bill Kauffman that resonates with astounding facts and observations.”–Rex Reed, New York Observer
“a smart, thoughtful screenplay by Bill Kauffman”– Christopher Schobert, The Playlist
“This is a movie with a script that is for a change equal to the complicated politics of the dangerous moment it explores.”– Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, Swans Commentary