Satirist and author PJ O’Rourke dead at 74



PJ O’Rourke, the prolific US author and satirist who refashioned the irreverence and “Gonzo” journalism of the 1960s counterculture into a distinctive brand of conservative and libertarian commentary, has died at age 74.

O’Rourke died on Tuesday morning (US time), according to Grove Atlantic Inc Books publisher and president Morgan Entrekin. He did not cite a cause but said O’Rourke had been ill in recent months.

O’Rourke was a Toledo, Ohio, native who evolved from long-haired student activist to wavy-haired scourge of his old liberal ideals, with some of his more widely read takedowns appearing in a founding counterculture publication, Rolling Stone.

His career otherwise extended from the early years of National Lampoon to a brief stint on 60 Minutes, in which he represented the conservative take on Point/Counterpoint, to frequent appearances on NPR’s game show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!.

His writing style suggested a cross between the hedonism of Hunter S Thompson and the patrician mockery of Tom Wolfe: Self-importance was a reliable target. But his greatest disdain was often for the government – not just a specific administration, but government itself and what he called “the silken threads of entitlement spending”.

In a 2018 column for a venerable conservative publication, The Weekly Standard, O’Rourke looked on with scorn at Washington, DC’s gentrification.

“People are flocking to the seat of government power. One would say ‘dogs returning to their vomit’, except that’s too hard on dogs. Too hard on people, also. They come to Washington because they have no choice – diligent working breeds compelled to eat their regurgitated tax dollars,” he wrote.

O’Rourke’s books included the bestsellers Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance, None of My Business and A Cry from the Middle.

Entrekin told The Associated Press that O’Rourke had been working on a one-volume look at the US, as seen from his hometown: A History of Toledo, Ohio: From the Beginning of Time Til the End of the Universe.

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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