My Love Affair with America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Conservative by Norman Podhoretz


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  • Pub. Date: December 2001
  • 256pp
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    • Pub. Date: December 2001
    • Publisher:Encounter Books
    • Format: Paperback, 256pp


    In nearly forty years on the American literary scene, Norman Podhoretz has established himself as one of our most perceptive social critics. Now, in this moving and witty memoir, he shows another side -- as a natural born storyteller with a sure sense of character and anecdote and the ability to construct a compelling narrative that opens a window onto an exemplary American life.

    Podhoretz brilliantly recreates his experience growing up in a Jewish immigrant family in a working class neighborhood of Brooklyn during the Depression. He sang Catholic hymns in a public school run by Irish spinsters and played and fought with black and Italian classmates after school let out and later served in the army with them in Occupied Germany. He stepped into the world of ideas at Columbia University and began to acquire lifelong friends and enemies as he began the journey that would make him one of this country's best known controversialists.

    But if My Love Affair with America succeeds brilliantly as autobiography, it is more than the poignant recovery of lost time. Podhoretz uses his experience to launch a strong defense of America and American values at a time when he fears that they are in jeopardy. The gratitude Podhoretz feels for the United States is beyond ideology, a challenge to the political Right as well as the Left.

    In this unique book and in his own unique way, Norman Podhoretz makes the personal political.

    Publishers Weekly

    Patriotism comes easily to Podhoretz, the influential conservative thinker who, during a 35-year stint as editor of Commentary, steered the magazine from unabashed Left/liberalism firmly to the Right. Now a septuagenarian, this once-hotheaded utopian looks back, with an engaging lucidity and a crisp style, at his remarkable life, which he began as the Yiddish-speaking child of a Brooklyn milkman and the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Galicia in Eastern Europe. Having cut his political teeth in the leftist Popular Front (he winces recalling the blank-verse ode he once wrote to the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad), Podhoretz reports the exhilaration he felt at defending McCarthy-era America against his communist colleagues while on a Fulbright scholarship at Cambridge. The first blush of love for his country then developed into a passionate affair, which he fleshes out in this meandering volume. He recalls colleagues such as Saul Bellow, Irving Howe and Nathan Glazer; dissects the politics of anti-Vietnam radicals; and unflinchingly evaluates his own responsibility for the spread of what he calls a "morbid and dangerous" hatred of America on both the Left and Right. Still loudly and proudly defending the nation against Marxists, Gore Vidal and the ACLU, Podhoretz retains his self-described ability to make pro-American arguments that have his opponents frothing at the mouth. Whatever the reader's political outlook, this book is a valuable record of one of the most vital periods in America's postwar coming-of-age. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

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