A while ago, I noted Eduardo Mendieta's review of Adams' Habermas and Theology. Mendieta hit the nail on the head by opening his review with the claim: "Adjoining two nouns in the title of a book is like writing a blank check to 'cash.' One better know who is receiving the check and one better make sure to have sufficient funds when it gets cashed. " It was a brilliant and biting rhetorical flourish, of which I am still jealous.
However, there is a new contender for my jealousy. In Tim Maudlin's recent review of the new collection Truth and Realism. Maudlin lambasts the essays contained therein for their inconsistency. The essays were collected from a conference by the same name, and Maudlin argues that the participants seemed to be talking past one another, rarely agreeing on what the issues at stake were, thus producing a generally incoherent collection that never seems to hit the mark. But, at the end of his review, Maudlin singles out one particular author (Timothy Williamson) and delivers the following coup de grace:
"Williamson's final paragraph begins: "In making these comments, it is hard not to feel like the headmaster of a minor public school at speech day, telling everyone to pull their socks up after a particularly bad term." I cannot speak for the participants at the conference, but my own reaction to being compared to a wayward British schoolboy was: So who died and made you headmaster?"