As the title indicates, this book is highly critical of America, but it is a criticism tempered and somewhat confounded by Amis' complicated Ameriphilia. After all, he has made a habit of sending his characters to America (John Self in Money, the narrator in London Fields, and Richard Tull in The Information; he imports Americans in Dead Babies as well as Rachel's boyfriend in The Rachel Papers). The preoccupation with nuclear destruction carries over from Einstein's Monsters. Diedrick opines that this effort to force a collection of disparate essays to fit a conceptual scheme imposed retrospectively is strained. Such pigeonholing is unnecessary and irrelevant. He warns that these are journalistic articles, "the hack and the whore have much in common: late nights, venal gregariousness, social drinking, a desire to please, simulated liveliness, dissimulated exhaustion- you keep having to do it when you don't feel like it" (p. x). In the introduction to The Moronic Inferno (1986), Amis explains the title's origin:
Bellow, who informs me that he got it from Wyndham Lewis.
Needless to say, the moronic inferno is not a peculiarly American
condition. It is global and perhaps internal. It is also, of course,
primarily a metaphor, a metaphor for human infamy: mass, gross,
ever-distracting human infamy. One of the many things I do not
understand about Americans is this: what it is like to be a citizen of a
superpower, to maintain democratically the means of planetary
extinction?" (p. x).