PJ O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist, died aged 74


PJ O’Rourke, a journalist and political satirist with libertarian conservative leanings, died Tuesday morning of complications from lung cancer, his publisher confirmed. He was 74.

“PJ was one of the most important voices of his generation. He was also a close friend and partner for over 40 years,” said Morgan Entrekin, managing director and publisher at Grove Atlantic.

“His insightful reporting, verbal acuity and gift for writing laugh-out-of-the-box prose were unparalleled. From his classics “Modern Manners” and “Parliament of Whores” to “How the Hell Did This Happen,” a result of his dismay at the 2016 election, PJ has consistently delivered fierce, shrewd, and always amusing accounts of the American state. His death leaves a huge gap in my life, both privately and professionally.”

Patrick Jake O’Rourke was born on November 14, 1947 in Toledo, Ohio. With a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins, he began journalism at small newspapers and became editor of the National Lampoon in the 1970s.

He was executive director of foreign affairs at Rolling Stone and a regular correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His work has also appeared in Esquire, Vanity Fair, the Daily Beast and the Weekly Standard to name a few.

He also helped sustain the small publishing company Entrekin, which spun off from Atlantic in the 1980s. “PJ’s loyalty and commitment to Atlantic Monthly Press and then to Grove Atlantic allowed me to keep the company independent,” Entrekin said. “For that I am forever in his debt.”

In the 1990s, O’Rourke moved to New Hampshire and continued to write. He was also a Cato Institute HL Mencken Research Fellow and appeared regularly on the NPR quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.

O’Rourke’s other books include Republican Party Reptile and Give War a Chance. Though his ideological shift to the right was well advanced by the time he was in the Lampoon — followed by his public endorsement of Hillary Clinton to Donald J. Trump — his humor and skepticism have been the key constants in his life and work.

Raised in the 1960s, O’Rourke wrote for The Times in 2008 that he was a member of the “idiot generation”.

“My generation spoiled everything for you,” he wrote. “It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act funny and to shock adults.

“But my generation has exhausted Earth’s bizarre resources. Strange clothes – we wore them. Strange beards – we grew them. Weird words and phrases – we said them. So when it was your turn to be original and look and act weird, all that was left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.”

O’Rourke is survived by his wife Tina and children Olivia, Clifford and Elizabeth. PJ O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist, died aged 74

Caroline Bleakley

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