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My Love Affair With America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Conservative [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   248
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2001
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1893554414  
EAN  9781893554412  

Availability  2 units.
Availability accurate as of May 26, 2017 06:58.
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Item Description...
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 personal 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. After serving in the army in Occupied Germany, he stepped into the world of ideas at Columbia University and began to acquire the friends and enemies that made him one of this country's best known controversialists. My Love Affair with America succeeds brilliantly as autobiography. But it is more than the poignant recovery of lost time. Podhoretz uses his own experience to launch a strong defense of America and American values at a time when he fears that his fellow conservatives are in danger of following the path of the New Left into contempt for their native land. The gratitude Podhoretz feels for the United States is a challenge to the political Right as well as the Left. The love he feels is beyond ideology. In this unique book and in his own unique way, Norman Podhoretz makes the personal political.

Buy My Love Affair With America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Conservative by Norman Podhoretz, Catherine M. Millett, Guilin Wang, Sean Chercover, Blake Crouch, Paul Dinello, F. R. C. Bagley & Scott Silsby from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781893554412 & 1893554414

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More About Norman Podhoretz, Catherine M. Millett, Guilin Wang, Sean Chercover, Blake Crouch, Paul Dinello, F. R. C. Bagley & Scott Silsby

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Norman Podhoretz, the author of eight previous books on subjects ranging from contemporary literature to foreign policy, was editor in chief of Commentary for thirty-five years and is now the magazine's editor at large and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. A graduate of Columbia and Cambridge Universities, as well as of the Seminary College of Jewish Studies (where he earned a Bachelor of Hebrew Literature), he has been awarded a Pulitzer Scholarship, a Kellett Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, the Francis L. Boyer Award from the American Enterprise Institute, and five honorary doctorates, including one from the Jewish Theological Seminary and another from Yeshiva University. He lives in New York City with his wife, the writer Midge Decter.

Norman Podhoretz currently resides in New York City, in the state of New York.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
more wisdom from NAMBLA  Oct 31, 2005
Norman Podhoretz, the wise, puckish sage of NAMBLA, has come out with a new collection of homespun wisdom. I don't necessarily agree with his suggestion that America put its defense department "in a blind trust" under the direction of Israel, although it is refreshing to hear a prominent Neo-Con admit his secret intentions. Nor will most readers find the same pleasure in watching animals eat their young that seems to arouse Podhoretz so profoundly. But the wonderful memoir -- "From Brownsville to Brownsville" -- a tale of Podhoretz's long ride, most of it on a pogo stick, from Brooklyn to Texas -- ought to move anybody who has yearned to "make it" himself.

Podhoretz  Sep 2, 2004
I find Podhoretz to be a pitiable unimpressive individual, a bitter pathetic old man. He recently stated on Fresh Air with Terry Gross that he has no friends who disagree with him. He lamented this as if to blame it on others stating that politics are the new religion and this is why the polarization in this country exists as it does. If for no other reason it is for the cavalier disregard he expresses for human life. One cannot find intolerance unless one is himself intolerant. I have many people who call me friend whom I disagree with on political issues.

Podhoretz and those who embrace the sick and twisted vision of "neoconservativism" are themselves more dangerous and fanatical than those they are seeking to defeat. If Podhoretz and his fellow neocons are what America has become than America must surely fail, in Iraq and elsewhere. They have debased and perverted what they claim they are seeking to defend. There is nothing noble in the unenlightened neoconservative vision of American hegemony.

No one in America has learned any lessons from the events of Sept 11, 2001 because no one has as yet examined the genuine cause for the behavior of terrorists. The past half century of American foreign policy has been one of nothing but blatant hypocrisy.

I wouldn't gratify the perpetrator of these insane ramblings by giving him any money for this or anything else he or any of his fellow conspirators have written and neither should anyone else.
A story worth telling and reading  Oct 21, 2003
Podhoretz writes with intimacy and frankness. His experience as the child of Jewish immigrants growing up in Brooklyn and ultimately becoming a conservative is what should be a logical conclusion of so many more lives than New York peer pressure typically allows. A great example of someone with the wisdom to get past the elitist hangups of the NYC intelligentsia who instead followed his heart to the truth. A gentle read, and an overall pleasure!
the emptiness of neoconservatism  Oct 18, 2001
Perhaps the absolutely fundamental neoconservative idea was the need to reassert American
nationalism or patriotism or "Americanism" or "American exceptionalism": the idea that American
society, however flawed, is not only essentially good but somehow morally superior to other

[This idea] is especially associated with immigration. The future neoconservatives mostly came
from relatively recent immigrant stock. It is arguable, though certainly unproven, that such people
in America feel a stronger need than those of longer American lineage to display their credentials
as Americans; or rather, that those whose families came over on the Mayflower feel that there is
nothing incompatible between deep patriotism and a propensity to shout about what needs to be
-The World Turned Right Side Up : A History of the Conservative Ascendancy in America
(1996) (Godfrey Hodgson)

Boy, Godfrey Hodgson really hits the nail on the head there. Norman Podhoretz's book, My Love
Affair With America, is basically a protracted attempt to suggest that he loves America more than any
of his former rivals on the Left, or current rivals on the Right. Podhoretz famously broke ranks with
the intellectual New York set in the 1970's, having determined that their anti-Americanism, most
ostentatiously displayed during the Vietnam War, neither jibed with his own life experiences--the
meteoric rise of a poor Jewish child of immigrants to respected writer status--nor was compatible with
the need to maintain a militarily strong and assertive America, to stand as a final guarantor of an
embattled Israel's continued existence. He has an easy time rewinning his old battle with the radical
counterculture (though he's unable to resist the compulsion to claim credit for having created that
counterculture in the first place). Their anti-Americanism is a result of their genuine opposition to
freedom, which is America's organizing principle. They do not wish to perfect America, but to
destroy it and remake it in an image of their utopian (or dystopian) fantasies. Podhoretz gives them
yet another well-deserved drubbing.

But then he takes on the modern Right, and here he founders badly :

In the mid-1990s there unexpectedly came an outburst of anti-Americanism even among some of
the very conservatives I thought had been permanently immunized against it...I was already pushing
seventy, and it made me a little tired to think of going back into combat over a phenomenon that I
had fondly imagined I would never have to deal with again, and certainly not on the Right

The anti-Americanism he's talking about is the harsh, but loving, cultural criticism of Bill Bennett and
Robert Bork, and the tentative suggestions on the Religious Right that the Supreme Court may have so
far departed from the Constitution in its decisions on social issues, specifically abortion and
Church/State issues, that it is no longer a legitimate institution. Podhoretz is horrified by these trends
and seeks to read them out of the Conservative movement, but they were there long before him and
will remain long after.

The problem for Podhoretz, and for neoconservatism in general, is the absence of a core political
philosophy. The Left believes that the central duty of government is to guarantee equality of
outcomes among the citizenry and that government is capable of solving social problems and
effectively running the economy. Classic Conservatism is structured around a countervailing belief in
freedom, which necessitates a very limited government, but strong social institutions, and, though it
requires equality of opportunity, accepts that the resulting outcomes will be very different.
Neoconservatism is really only interested in supporting Israel and opposing quotas, it's largely agnostic
on the other issues and has no firm view of the proper role of government generally. On social issues,
a natural distrust of Christian conservatism and the fact that neoconservatism arose in the urban milieu,
combine to create a willingness to countenance big government, and the need for a massive military
requires big government. On the other hand, if equality is enforced by the state, it will work to the
detriment of groups, like Jews, who are disproportionately successful, so there's a reluctance to trust
government too far. This naked self-interest is certainly legitimate, but it's hardly a coherent political

That Podhoretz is only marginally conservative becomes clear from the fact that he almost completely
ignores the question of the size and role of government, from his dismissal of objections to the 1964
Civil Rights Act, from his failure to discuss, except in passing, the free market economic philosophy
of folks like Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek, and from his failure to comprehend why abortion is
such a salient issue on the Right. Even more revealing is his thinly disguised contempt for the
conservative intellectuals of the first half of the century, who either go unmentioned (Albert Jay Nock,
for example) or are dismissed as cranks (like the Agrarians--Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, etc.).
He seems to think that conservatism was born in the 1950s, only became a significant political
movement in the post Vietnam era (not coincidentally, just after he joined it) and consists of little
more than nationalism.

Were that true, were conservatism nothing more than a blind patriotism, of recent vintage, then he
would be right to criticize cultural conservatives for questioning the moral climate of the country and
the direction in which it is heading. But conservatism, even American conservatism, antedates
America. And conservatism has endured precisely because it offers such a powerful critique of
America. In Albert Jay Nock's great book, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, he says the following :

Burke touches [the] matter of patriotism with a searching phrase. 'For us to love our country,' he
said, 'our country ought to be lovely.' I have sometimes thought that here may be the rock on
which Western civilization will finally shatter itself. Economism can build a society which is rich,
prosperous, powerful, even one which has a reasonably wide diffusion of material well-being. It
can not build one which is lovely, one which has savour and depth, and which exercises the
irresistible attraction that loveliness wields. Perhaps by the time economism has run its course the
society it has built may be tired of itself, bored by its own hideousness, and may despairingly
consent to annihilation, aware that it is too ugly to be let live any longer.

By economism, Nock means a kind of unfettered materialism or consumerism. These lines, prophetic
anyway, seem even more prescient in light of the events of September 11th. There is a palpable sense
in America's continuing discussion of the events that the America that died on September 11th
deserved to die (though the victims certainly did not), that it was too self-centered, too trivial, too
degenerate. People have now judged the America of the 1990s, which Podhoretz is here defending
against conservative critics, and, as W. H. Auden said of an earlier time, they have determined it to be
"a low dishonest decade."

In the final pages of the book Podhoretz offers a dayyenu, a list of each of the things that would have
been sufficient for us to owe America a debt of gratitude. After a brief, and platitudinous, generic list,
including such things as "domestic tranquillity" (which one is tempted to point out that China too
enjoys), he gets to his real reasons for feeling patriotic, and they are all about the success he's made of
himself : "...America...sent me to a great university..."; "...America handed me a magazine of my own
to run..."; "...America saw to it that I would live in an apartment in Manhattan..."; "...America
arranged for me to build a country house...". It's utterly vacuous and truly appalling.

Freedom is vital to everything that America stands for. It makes possible the kind of rags to riches
story that Podhoretz has lived. But it is not enough. Conservatives demand freedom, but also believe
that our country "ought to be lovely." This loveliness consists mostly of an adherence to the eternal
values of the Judeo-Christian tradition, of which, as Nock says, we are unworthy inheritors. And right
there is another key element, humility. Conservatives realize that our inheritance is too precious to
experiment with willy-nilly and so seek to conserve as much as can possibly be conserved of that
tradition. Paraphrasing Nock (one last time, I promise), who borrowed a phrase from Lord Falkland :

What it is not necessary to

Let Freedom Ring Loudly  Jan 9, 2001
Norman Podhoretz' billet-doux to the country who has given him so much is an enthralling read occasionally marred by desultory digressions.

Like all long lasting marriages, this love affair went through periods of turbulence, but even when he felt instances of temptation, he was true to his citizenship and never gave into infidelity. Such inveterate loyalty did not extend to his politics. Once an avowed liberal, "Commentary's" long time editor maturated into as the subtitle declares "a cheerful conservative." Still, his devotion to his homeland remained steadfast regardless of where he was on the political scale. One of the salient disillusionments he found with liberalism was the ignominious tendency to badmouth America. Acts of such betrayal outraged Mr. Podhoretz and no doubt gave increased impetus to his propitiation toward conservatism.

This love letter warns of a similar concern more recently seen from the right, but this is one area where the supporting evidence is weak. Except for the discussion of a controversial seminar and a handful of other morsels, this charge remains rather unsubstantiated. Certainly, nothing is given that equates to the sixties radicals offering vainglorious aid and comfort to the Vietcong.

It should also be noted that Mr. Podheretz wisely does not see justified, severe criticism of the government as a lack of faithfulness to the nation. He was one of the many eclectic movers and shakers (ranging from Clinton/Gore cheerleaders Alan Dershowitz and Lawrence Tribe to conservative icons William Bennett and incoming Secretary of Labor Linda Chavez) who gracefully signed the brilliant syndicated ad urging the supine congress to take some action against Clinton, Reno, and company for the savage incursion and kidnapping perpetrated on the noble Gonzales family that infamous Easter weekend. Despite the natural umbrage he felt by this execrable breach committed by her opprobrious government, his allegiance to his beloved America was not diminished.

In this zeitgeist where patriotism and fidelity are routinely belittled, this tale of mutual honor and approbation stands as an example to be emulated.


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