Having risen to national attention with his first book, For Common Things , Jedediah Purdy now cements his claim to being one of the most arresting public intellectuals of his generation. In Being America, Purdy turns his erudition and unique perspective to America’s relationship with a world that both admires and hates it.
Purdy has absorbed insights from people around the world: Westernized Egyptians who consider Osama bin Laden a hero, an urbane Indian who espouses gay rights and the most thuggish kind of Hindu nationalism, Cambodian sweat-shop workers, and others. Out of these conversations—and his inspired readings of political thinkers from Edmund Burke to James Madison—Purdy breathes new meaning into the American values of democracy, liberty, and free trade. Clear-thinking and far-sighted, Being America encourages America to strive to realize the potential it doesn’t always know it has.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Being America|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Being America|
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Chapter OneWhere All the Ladders Start
Those masterful images, because complete Grew in pure mind, but out of what began? A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street, Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can, Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone I must lie down where all the ladders start, In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
-William Butler Yeats, "The Circus Animals' Desertion"
I am reading another verse than Yeats's, this one a text message on an Egyptian medical student's mobile phone in a TGI Friday's by the Nile in Cairo:
SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY BOMBS IN WORLD TRADE CENTER SPECIAL DJ OSAMA BIN LADEN FLY IN COURTESY OF AMERICAN AIRLINES
Sitting with us are a young corporate lawyer and a first-year law student. The three are sisters, from an established but not eminent Egyptian family, and are fashionably turned out in tight black slacks and T-shirts several sizes too small. The medical student's pink shirt, from Naf Naf, reads "Girls Only." They are all giggling, waiting for me to appreciate the satirical phone text. When I am slow to respond, the lawyer, Ingy, takes it on herself to explain: "So, all people in Egypt admire bin Laden, because he is the one who hit the U.S. So, he is like a hero for us, rather than a terrorist."
I have come here trying to understand the attraction and resentment, the imitation and rejection that America inspires everywhere. I am hoping to glimpse the place where ideas and feelings begin.
Ingy is my special friend in Cairo, having adopted me after her employer-a friend of a friend-offered to help me navigate this challenging city. She...