American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocquevilleby Bernard-Henry Levy
What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our/b>
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This book is beautifully written, by an intelligent friend of America who can be critical while still displaying a real affection for and understanding of the USA in the 21st century. The juxtaposition of M. Levy's journey with the much earlier simialr journey by Tocqyerville works really well without being a constricting device. Being a Brit working for an extended period in DC this book was perfect for my feelings towards this fascinatingly varied and paradoxical country. The book is easily digested as each event or visit is described in 2-4 pages making it easy to pick up or dip in and out of. Highly recommended.
Levy is adept at picking apart old political myths. This is a tour of America at the time of the 2004 Bush versus Kerry election, but Levy's observations are as relevant today as four years ago. He has an interesting perspective, one with which I did not always agree, but nevertheless compelling in accentuation of the remarkable in American cultural and political venues. I would recommend this to those interested in the upcoming 2008 presidential tug-of-war. I was unable to discuss the book with my Lazy Girls Book Club in April 2008, as I had another engagement in Greenville that evening, but I heard that the discussion was lively and enjoyable. Maybe your book group would enjoy American Vertigo as well. Levy should come back every four years for an update of his observations.