Anatomy of a Cromance

I have previously criticised the crony friends of Daniel Cassidy, charlatan and fake etymologist, who have been responsible for artificially boosting Cassidy’s reputation and selling his irritating and insane drivel to Irish American suckers.

It is interesting to look at the way some of these cronies operate. Let’s just look at the particular constellation of cronies who founded the Irish American Writers and Artists back in 2008. According to that organisation’s website this historic event took place at a literary festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. After the session, Peter Quinn and T.J. English, ‘historian and author Daniel Cassidy’ (!!!),  New York Times columnist and author Dan Barry, and Maureen Dezell, all adjourned to the pub and founded the IAWAA. I am not criticizing the supposed aims of the IAWAA here. Insofar as there is any genuine radicalism among these people, I would support it. We know that Cassidy’s radicalism was completely fake, of course. I mean, what possible justification could you give for taking a job as a college professor without even having a degree, or faking Ivy League qualifications to claim such a job? How is that serving the cause of social justice? It’s not as if straight chalk-white Christian dudes like Cassidy are under-represented at the highest level in American society!

However, if we look at the reviews on Amazon, we find that Cassidy’s book was supported by a certain paquinn47, who gave it a rave review and five stars.

“Cassidy’s thesis isn’t going to go away and overwrought denunciations should give way to the work of grappling with the certainty that Cassidy has started a revolution of Copernican dimensions.”

The same paquinn47 also gave five stars and a rave review to Dan Barry’s book ‘City Lights: Stories About New York.’

In neither review does he give the slightest indication that he is Peter A. Quinn the novelist or that he knows the authors. In one case, of course, he wrote the introduction to the book he’s reviewing, which is a pretty big vested interest. Another reviewer of Dan Barry’s book is a certain Daniel P. Cassidy, who tells the reader to ‘Buy this book. Then buy another and give it to a friend. Read it and feel renewed.’

Again, there is no indication in the review that these people knew one another. In the case of the Barry book, there are only six reviews on Amazon. The reviews from his two mates, Cassidy and Quinn, are one third of the ratings.

Daniel P. Cassidy also reviewed Peter Quinn’s book Hour of the Cat, again without revealing anything about the relationship between himself and Quinn, such as the fact that a character called Danny Cassidy is mentioned in the book or that one of his later books was dedicated to him. ‘Hour of the Cat is flat-out one of the best books I have read in a dog’s age’.  Daniel P. Cassidy only wrote three reviews on Amazon. One for Dan Barry, one for Peter Quinn, and a hostile one about a book which Cassidy criticises as being full of ‘wing-nut etymologies’. Talk about pots and kettles!

The question is, is it wrong to review books by your cronies without giving any indication that they are cronies? It certainly isn’t illegal but I think it’s completely unethical. After all, people read the reviews to find out whether to buy the book. If you are the author’s best friend, you should really declare that in the review.  It isn’t enough to give your name. How many people would know that paquinn47 is Peter Quinn or that he is a friend of Cassidy and Barry? (As opposed, for example, to the Irish Peter Quinn of Belfast Media Group, former GAA chairman, who was involved in the purchase of the Irish Echo in 2008, a paper which allowed Cassidy to write a column on his ‘discoveries’ just before his death.)

Some of you will remember the Orlando Figes incident a few years back, where the expert on Russian history, Orlando Figes, wrote scathing reviews of his rivals using the false name Historian. Figes apologised and claimed that he was suffering from depression at the time. I believe him. People do strange things when they’re depressed and his actions were so pointless and ultimately damaging to his reputation. He was and is a successful historian and didn’t need to resort to tactics like that.

Cassidy, of course, wasn’t a talented historian. He wasn’t even an historian. He knew nothing about anything, and without his loyal cronies spreading nonsense about what a great book How The Irish Invented Slang is, it is unlikely that he would have sold many copies of this truly dreadful piece of garbage.

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