Cover image for My love affair with America : the cautionary tale of a cheerful conservative
My love affair with America : the cautionary tale of a cheerful conservative
Podhoretz, Norman.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.12 .P59 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E169.12 .P59 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this touching and delightful memoir, Norman Podhoretz charts the ups and downs of his lifelong love affair with his native land, and warns that to turn against America, from the Right no less than from the Left, is to fall into the rankest ingratitude. While telling the story of how he himself grew up to be a fervent patriot, one of this country's leading conservative thinkers urges his fellow conservatives to rediscover and reclaim their faith in America.

A superb storyteller, Podhoretz takes us from his childhood as a working-class kid in Brooklyn during the Great Depression -- the son of Jewish immigrants singing Catholic hymns in a public school staffed by Irish spinsters and duking it out on the streets with his black and Italian classmates -- to his later education, his shifting political alliances, and his arrival at a happy personal and intellectual resolution.

"My Love Affair with America" shows us a gentler and funnier Podhoretz than readers have seen before. At the same time, it presents a picture of someone eager to proclaim, against all comers, that America represents one of the high points in the history of h

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Podhoretz's volte-face from left-liberal to neoconservative is familiar to followers of his career. This essay adopts the autobiographical mode to again castigate his enemies among the New York intelligentsia, despite having just rounded on them in Ex-Friends (1999). What is new in this reminiscence is Podhoretz's relationship with God-Bless-America patriotism. The romance was sown, he believes, with a seed unplantable in contemporary, diversity-exalting schools, when he was consigned, at age five, to a remedial speech class to eliminate his Yiddish accent. Other recollections of his assimilation prepare the ground for his analysis of the view of America as an irretrievably cultureless abode of materialism, a venerable tradition whose exponents--such as Henry Adams in the Gilded Age and Partisan Review in the 1950s--Podhoretz critiques, and not kindly. Approaching the present, Podhoretz reproves a coterie of conservatives, including Christian rightist Paul Weyrich, for lifting up the America-is-hopeless banner anew. Podhoretz fans will need no prodding to check out his love-of-country ruminations. Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this well-crafted and deeply felt memoir, the former editor of Commentary details his political metamorphosis from liberal to neoconservative and adds another dimension to Making It, his pugnacious autobiographical account of his climb to fame. Podhoretz attributes the gradual change in his political beliefs to a longstanding "love affair with America" and a strong aversion to left-wing (and extreme right-wing) anti-American statements and activities. The memoir also includes descriptions of the many political battles Podhoretz has fought with former political allies and adversaries, each illuminating an aspect of his growing conservatism. Permeating the narrative is the author's identity as an American Jew and the intertwining of related issues (the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, the State of Israel, immigration policy, and church-state matters) with his evolving move to the Right. Although primarily autobiographical, the book critically revisits so many crucially important events and issues of the past 50 years while surveying highlights of 200 years of American intellectual history that it serves as a vibrant, incisive, and ultimately instructive commentary on how America (not just Podhoretz) has changed.ÄJack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: "God's Country"p. 1
Part I "Who Is He, That Uncle Sam?"p. 5
Part II The Making of a Patriotp. 63
Part III "Look! We Have Come Through!"p. 125
Part IV Dayyenu American-Stylep. 185
Endnotesp. 237
Acknowledgmentsp. 240
Indexp. 241