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My Love Affair with America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful…
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743200519, Hardcover)Norman Podhoretz has written several books that draw from his life story and recount his neoconservative migration from the political Left to the political Right (Breaking Ranks, Ex-Friends). What's striking about My Love Affair with America is how he describes both places as "uncomfortably similar": "It was because I could not stomach the terrible and untrue things [my left-wing friends in 1960s] were saying about this country that I wound up breaking with them.... But then, in the mid-1990s, there unexpectedly came an outburst of anti-Americanism even among some of the very conservatives" whom he had least expected to demonstrate it. (He has in mind, among other incidents, the semi-famous "First Things" debate collected in The End of Democracy?). Yet this book is not a dissection of political viewpoints: "Beyond being defended by a counterattack against its assailants and an exposure of their misrepresentations and slanders, America deserved to be glorified with a full throat and a whole heart." In a world that rewards intellectual cynicism and regards patriotism--such a basic human sentiment--as "the last refuge of scoundrels," this is a refreshing approach. Podhoretz loves America perhaps only the way members of immigrant families can: they, better than anybody else, understand what the alternatives are to life in the United States.
Podhoretz grew up in New York speaking Yiddish before English. He writes: "America, according to some who have preceded me in feeling much as I do about it, is 'God's country.' That is, as the pages that follow will attest, a judgment with which I have no inclination whatsoever to disagree." "My Love Affair with America" occasionally veers toward cliché, but only because patriotism is a shop-worn topic for "cheap politicians." Podhoretz knows when he's approaching the danger zone, and combines a wonderful writing style with an infective fondness for his subject matter to make this book rise far above the typical Fourth of July oration. Those familiar with Podhoretz's previous writings will find plenty of what they've come to expect--stories about growing up, tales of the New York intellectual world, and occasionally zinging comments. My Love Affair with America will particularly appeal to anybody whose spine has tingled during a rendition of "America the Beautiful." --John J. Miller
(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 23 Apr 2011 19:33:33 -0400)
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