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

Norman Podhoretz, Author Free Press $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0051-6

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)
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