From the Publisher
“A book-length essay on the often worrying, often inspiring course of America in the nine decades of Michener’s life.”—The Washington Post
“Michener is more interested in fixing the problems than in fixing the blame.”—The Dallas Morning News
“Michener’s are the beach books that, unlike most other beach books, leave you smarter than you were when you started reading. Each delivers the product of all that research, doled out to the reader at just the right rate. You know right away who the bad guys are—the petty ones, the stingy ones. The heroes are generous and energetic and smart and, above all, unprejudiced. The real-life villains in This Noble Land are the people Michener perceives as ‘petty, mean and vengeful.’”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Stirring . . . an admirable effort to define what has made our country great and how to preserve what is best about it.”—Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 88-year-old Michener here reflects on what he believes to be the major problems the U.S. faces and offers suggestions on how to solve them. He presents a moderate and humane vision, advising increased federal spending on education, the arts and health care. In one particularly thoughtful essay, he discusses the erosion of race relations and argues passionately for the necessity of affirmative action. He is a believer in the moral value of work and the traditional family. However, he strongly disagrees with what he sees as punitive financial measures against teenage mothers proposed by the Republican Congress. To redistribute the nation's wealth, Michener supports a sharp increase in income taxes on the wealthy. Michener's writing throughout is straightforward and congenial, informed by myriad personal examples and energized by the passion of his hopes and fears for his beloved country. (Oct.)
Venerable American novelist Michener offers his reflections on the current state of the United States and his recommendations for solving the problems he sees. His 13 criteria indicative of a nation's nobility are carefully and intelligently chosen, though idiosyncratic. Although Michener avoids media-driven flavor-of-the-month issues, it is difficult to consider a book on contemporary issues complete when it barely mentions the environment, immigration, the trade deficit, or abortion. However, the book's best moments are not ideological but personal observations on the nation's problems. Each chapter ends with a series of recommendations, which are rarely persuasive but seem mostly a tepid mlange of meliorism and wishful thinking and only reinforce the melancholy induced by Michener's eloquent delineation of the nation's woes. Perhaps Michener himself senses this, for in the final chapter he predicts another half-century of American greatness followed by a murkier outlook. Not strictly an essential purchase, but this moving book will serve as a starting point for many a discussion group and term paper.Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond
In a stirring essay on America's past and future, octogenarian novelist Michener (The World is My Home, 1992, etc.) outlines his native land's strong and weak points, and his hopes and fears for America's future.
Drawing on his travels, historical research, and experiences in politics, Michener cites numerous criteria for determining the country's strength: social and monetary stability, a political system that allows for an orderly transfer of power, an adequate health care system and effective schools and free libraries, adequate employment opportunities for the young, the existence of a tax system that balances wealth between rich and poor, the prevalence of churches that provide moral guidance, the existence of recreational and cultural opportunity, and equitable treatment of disparate ethnic groups. While acknowledging America's defects in some of these areas, the author characterizes the US as a country basically noble (that is, generous and courageous) in purpose and qualities, but he argues that several trends threaten to diminish America's nobility as a society. Although his analysis of the characteristics of a noble society may be controversial in some particulars, Michener will encounter little disagreement in his diagnosis of the US's principal problems: rising violence (he blames it on America becoming too much of a "macho" society), deteriorating families, a declining educational system, the shift from a producing to a consuming economy, declining health care, and ominously worsening racial relations. In his analysis of the results of the congressional elections of 1994, Michener rejects facile nostrums of the left and right in arguing that while some Republican ideas should be supported (like tort reform), many others should be opposed as undermining the nation. Among these are proposals to ban deficit spending, return a great deal of federal power to the states, and eliminate affirmative action programs.
Not all will agree with the specifics of Michener's arguments; still, the author makes an admirable effort to define what has made our country great and how to preserve what is best about it.