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One Man's America by George Will - Excerpt

One Man's America by George Will - Excerpt

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In his provocative and compelling new book, America’s most widely read and most influential commentator casts his gimlet eye on our singular nation. Moving far beyond the strict confines of politics, George F. Will offers a fascinating look at the people, stories, and events–often unheralded–that make the American drama so endlessly entertaining and instructive.

With Will’s signature erudition and wry wit always on display, One Man’s America chronicles a spectacular, eclectic procession of figures who have shaped our cultural landscape–from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., from Victorian poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from cotton picker— turned—country singer Buck Owens to actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan.

Will crisscrosses the country to illuminate what it is that makes America distinctive. He visits the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor and ponders its enduring links to the present. He travels to Milwaukee to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of an iconic brand, Harley-Davidson. In Los Angeles he finds the inspiring future of education, while in New York he confronts the dispiriting didacticism of the avant-garde. He ventures to the Civil War battlefields of Virginia to explore what we risk when we efface our own history. And on the outskirts of Chicago he investigates one of the darkest chapters in American history, only to discover a shining example of resilience and grace–the best the country has to offer.

Will’s wide lens takes in much more as well–everything from the “most emblematic novel of the 1930s” (and no, it is not about the Joads) to the cult of ESPN to Brooks Brothers and Ben & Jerry’s. And of course, One Man’s America would not be complete without the author’s insights on the national pastime, baseball–the icons and the cheats, the hapless and the greats.

Finally, in a personal and reflective turn, Will writes movingly of his thirty-five-year-old son Jon, born with Down syndrome, and pays loving and poignant tribute to his mother, who died at the age of ninety-eight after a long struggle with dementia.

The essays in One Man’s America, even when critiquing American culture, reflect Will’s deep affection and regard for our nation. After all, he notes, when America falls short, it does so only as compared to “the uniquely high standards it has set for itself.” In the end, this brilliantly informative and entertaining book reminds us of the enduring value of “the simple virtues and decencies that can make communities flourish and that have made America great and exemplary.”
In his provocative and compelling new book, America’s most widely read and most influential commentator casts his gimlet eye on our singular nation. Moving far beyond the strict confines of politics, George F. Will offers a fascinating look at the people, stories, and events–often unheralded–that make the American drama so endlessly entertaining and instructive.

With Will’s signature erudition and wry wit always on display, One Man’s America chronicles a spectacular, eclectic procession of figures who have shaped our cultural landscape–from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., from Victorian poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from cotton picker— turned—country singer Buck Owens to actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan.

Will crisscrosses the country to illuminate what it is that makes America distinctive. He visits the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor and ponders its enduring links to the present. He travels to Milwaukee to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of an iconic brand, Harley-Davidson. In Los Angeles he finds the inspiring future of education, while in New York he confronts the dispiriting didacticism of the avant-garde. He ventures to the Civil War battlefields of Virginia to explore what we risk when we efface our own history. And on the outskirts of Chicago he investigates one of the darkest chapters in American history, only to discover a shining example of resilience and grace–the best the country has to offer.

Will’s wide lens takes in much more as well–everything from the “most emblematic novel of the 1930s” (and no, it is not about the Joads) to the cult of ESPN to Brooks Brothers and Ben & Jerry’s. And of course, One Man’s America would not be complete without the author’s insights on the national pastime, baseball–the icons and the cheats, the hapless and the greats.

Finally, in a personal and reflective turn, Will writes movingly of his thirty-five-year-old son Jon, born with Down syndrome, and pays loving and poignant tribute to his mother, who died at the age of ninety-eight after a long struggle with dementia.

The essays in One Man’s America, even when critiquing American culture, reflect Will’s deep affection and regard for our nation. After all, he notes, when America falls short, it does so only as compared to “the uniquely high standards it has set for itself.” In the end, this brilliantly informative and entertaining book reminds us of the enduring value of “the simple virtues and decencies that can make communities flourish and that have made America great and exemplary.”

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Publish date: Nov 17, 2009
Added to Scribd: Nov 20, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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09/08/2013

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GEORGE F. WILL
One Man’s America
The Pleasures and Provocations ofOur Singular Nation
Three Rivers Press
new york
 
Copyright ©
2008
by George F. WillAll rights reserved.Published in the United States by Three Rivers Press,an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,a division of Random House, Inc., New York.www.crownpublishing.comThree Rivers Press and the Tugboat design areregistered trademarks of Random House, Inc.Originally published in hardcover in the United Statesby Crown Forum, an imprint of theCrown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in
2008
.All essays with the exception of the seven credited below were originally published in
Newsweek
and the
Washington Post,
and are reprinted courtesy of their publishers.“The Game’s Gifted Eccentrics” (August
15, 2004
), “An Intellectual Hijacking”(October
22, 2006
), “Raising Michael Oher” (November
11, 2006
), “Remember
1908
!”(April
1, 2007
), and “Roberto Clemente: ‘We Think He Can Hit’” (May
7, 2006
) wereoriginally published in
The New York Times Book Review,
and are reprinted herecourtesy of the
New York Times.
“James Madison” originally appeared in the
Princeton Alumni Weekly
(January
23,2008
).“Barry Goldwater: Cheerful Malcontent” originally appeared as the foreword to
TheConscience of a Conservative
by Barry Goldwater, edited by C. C. Goldwater (PrincetonUniversity Press,
2007
). Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataWill, George F.One man’s America : the pleasures and provocationsof our singular nation / George F. Will.—
1
st ed.Includes index.
1.
United States—Civilization.
2.
Nationalcharacteristics, American.
3.
Popular culture—UnitedStates.
4.
Political culture—United States.
5.
UnitedStates—Social conditions.
6.
United States—Biography.
7.
Will, George F.
8.
 Journalists—United States—Biography.I. Title.
e169.1.w4895 2008973
—dc
22 2007051281isbn 978-0-307-45436-2
Printed in the United States of America
design by barbara sturman10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Paperback Edition
www.ThreeRiversPress.com 

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