Mark Danner

Packer vs. Danner

Author: Spencer Ackerman


I recently reviewed Mark Danner’s collection of war essays for an issue of Bookforum that I guess hasn’t come out yet. It’s good; I thumbed it up. George Packer was not as convinced.

Now, via Choire Sicha, it appears Danner has written a long letter to the New York Times Book Review finding fault with Packer’s review. Among Danner’s major problems is that Packer didn’t disclose the fact that he was for the Iraq war and Danner was ardently opposed. I dunno. Packer’s review seemed snide and passive-aggressive — Danner diagnoses that quite aptly; Packer provides a who-me response to Choire — but, come on, there’s not going to be a single person reading that review who doesn’t know where each author stood on the question.

Nor should it really matter. We don’t have to give a laundry list of our positions when reviewing books; we just have to be honest. The bigger problem with the review is that it disrespects Danner’s rather voluminous original reporting, particularly his acquisition and disclosure of the Red Cross’ report into the treatment of 14 al-Qaeda detainees at the Black Sites.

Update: My mistake; I thought George had talked to Choire for the Awl piece, but I’ve been told he didn’t, and Choire acquired portions of George’s response to Danner for the NYTBR. Thanks to reader AZ for the assistance.