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From the colonial period through our current age, Widmer traces the legacy of American liberty with all its respect, contradictions and misapplications. His narrative explains the significance of the U.S.'s fall from international popularity in the last decade. Widmer's admiration for his country doesn't prevent him from recognizing its faults and, at times, the country's inability to hold true to the ark of liberty set forth in the national narrative. Widmer's writing is wonderfully nuanced, extrapolating large ideas and themes from the smallest of actions and symbols. William Hughes's narration doesn't do the book justice. His delivery lacks that subtlety, specificity and energy that Widmer's impressive and witty text needs. A Hill & Wang hardcover (reviewed online). (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.