South Central Idaho



Brother Andrew, Elizabeth Sherrill, John Sherrill and Pope John XXIII (Chosen Books, 2001, ISBN 9780800793012), Thomas Knox (W. A. Wilde & Company: Boston, 1896, ISBN (reprint) 9781409970385), Peter Townrow and Ron Martin (editors) (Routledge, 2002, ISBN 9780117023659)

A wearisome ancient practice requires the journalist to begin his description of any country or region by describing it as “a land of contradictions”.

The charitable view sees this as the journalist’s admission that he hasn’t comprehended his subject. That he views the disparate facets he’ll go on to describe as contradictions, comprehending too little about the country or region to harmonise them.

An uncharitable alternative might take it to show that the journalist holds his reader in such contempt as to suppose him to imagine the region as a monoculture of television caricatures.

Choose a country at random. Now go to Google and search for your country and “land of contradiction”.
Among print publications, one finds lands of contradiction such as,

  • China (“A land of contradictions”, The Guardian, Xinran, March 12, 2004),
  • Australia (The Land of the Kangaroo, Thomas Knox, 2008),
  • Denmark (“Denmark: land of contradictions”, Modern Power Systems, Benjamin Tait, May, 1999),
  • Wales (Regional Development in the 1990s: The British Isles in Transition, Peter Townrow and Ron Martin (editors), 2002),
  • Turkey (“Talking in Turkey: Dissent in a Land of Contradictions”, New York Times, Stephen Kinzer, November 29, 1997),
  • Germany (God’s Smuggler, Brother Andrew, Elizabeth Sherrill, John Sherrill, 2001),
  • Italy (“Delving into the Italian psyche”, The Sunday Times, Michael Foley, June 25, 2006)
  • Florida (Road Biking Florida: A Guide to the Greatest Bike Rides in Florida, Rick Sapp, 2008),
  • Myanmar (“Land of contradictions”, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Barry Wain, 1999),
  • Virginia (The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Paul Boyer et al, 2009),
  • Poland (“A Land of Contradictions”, San Francisco Chronicle, Les Adler, February 22, 1987),
  • Ancient Greece (The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece, Robert Morkot, 1997),
  • the West Bank (“Growth in the Palestinian Land of Contradictions”, Palestine Monitor, Jonathan Cook, September 1, 2008),
  • South Korea (Frommer’s South Korea, Celica Hae-Jin Lee, 2008),
  • Bolivia (“In the land of contradiction”, The Telegram, Martin Lobigs, January 16, 2008),
  • the Dungeons and Dragons country of “Vilhon Reach”, Player’s Guide to Faerun, Richard Baker, 2004),
  • Egypt (Spectacular Egypt, Mohamed El-Dakhakhny (editor), 2002),
  • Lebanon (“Dispatches from the Rubble”, New York Times, Stewart Kellerman, July 17, 1998),
  • Sicily (Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons: Travels in Sicily on a Vespa, Matthew Fort, 2009),
  • Morocco (Surfing Europe, Chris Nelson, Demi Taylor, 2008),
  • Pakistan (“Land of contradictions”, The News International, Ahmad Rafay Alam, December 22, 2009),
  • Ireland (On Celtic Tides: One Man’s Journey Around Ireland by Sea Kayak, Chris Duff),
  • the Balkans (Imagining the Balkans, Maria Todorova, 2009)
  • and Japan (“A land of contradictions; less-visited islands of Japan undrape mix of traditional, modern ways”, The Washington Times, Mary Calvert, February 25, 2006).

From online magazines and blogs one can add,

  • South Central Idaho (“South Central Idaho”, Go Northwest, December 3, 2009),
  • Cuba (“IT in the Land of Salsa, Rum & Fidel”, Revista Inter Forum, Timothy Ashby, July 29, 2001),
  • Alaska (“Alaska: Land of Contradictions”, Miller-McCone Online Magazine, Lee Drutman, October 2, 2008),
  • Venezuela (“Contradictions and Division on Election Eve”, Michael Fox, Global Exchange, December 3, 2006),
  • Luxembourg (“Luxembourg, Land of Contradiction”,, lordlucan, November 12, 2001),
  • Laos (“Two Victims of the Vietnam War – Laos: Land of Contradictions”, World and I)
  • Israel (“Israel at 60 – a land of contradictions”, World Blog, Martin Fletcher, May 7, 2008)
  • Iceland (“Iceland, Land of Contradiction”, Weblog, May 18, 2008),
  • India (“India, A Land of Contradictions”, Weblog, Gireesh George (thrust), February 21, 2007)
  • and Thailand (“The Land of Contradictions: Dispatches from Thailand”, EdgeWise Magazine Travel Blog)

A parallel practice requires the biographer or eulogist to admit his incomprehension through the phrase “a man of contradictions”. One finds men of contradiction such as,

  • Joseph Stalin (Stalin: man of contradiction, Kenneth Cameron, 1987),
  • James Dean (“James Dean, a man of contradictions”, The Age, September 30, 2005),
  • John Calvin (“Man of Contradictions, Shaper of Modernity”, New York Times, Peter Steinfels, July 3, 2009),
  • pirate “Black Bart” Roberts (‘Pirate Encyclopedia: John Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts’, Age of Pirates, 2006),
  • rampage killer Nidal Hasan (“Fort Hood shooting suspect: a man of contradictions”, The Christian Science Monitor, Peter Grier, November 6, 2009),
  • Charles Darwin (“Man of Contradictions”, Heartland, Homily for Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time),
  • Buffalo Bill (The American Patriot’s Almanac, William Bennet, John Cribb, 2008),
  • Pancho Villa (Pancho Villa: Strong Man of the Revolution, Larry Harris, 1996),
  • counterfeiter Waterman Ormsby (A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States, Stephen Mihm, 2009),
  • fashion designer Nicola Finetti (“Nicola Finetti: Man of Contradictions”, Oyster Magazine),
  • comic book superhero Wolverine (Wolverine Saga: Book One: Beginnings, Peter Sanderson et al),
  • Pope Benedict (“Deciphering Benedict: Catholics puzzle over a man of contradictions”, Newsday, Rolando Pujoi, April 15, 2008),
  • suspected terrorist Dean Headley (“Terrorism suspect had roots in two cultures”, New York Times, November 22, 2009),
  • Cornish historian Alfred Rowse (A Man of Contradictions, Richard Ollard, 2001),
  • Calvin Klein (The House of Klein: Fashion, Controversy, and a Business Obsession, Lisa Marsh, 2003)
  • and Martin Luther (“Man of Contradictions”, Christianity Today, Cindy Crosby, May 1, 2004)



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One Comment

  1. Christopher Johnstone

    I cannot imagine what sent you down this particular lane-way of madness, but I’m glad you wandered there. There cannot be many lists where Charles Darwin, John Calvin and Wolverine are compiled into the same overarching category…

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