American Studies by Louis Menand

By Louis Menand

At every one step of this trip via American cultural heritage, Louis Menand has an unique aspect to make: he explains the genuine value of William James's fearful breakdown, and of the anti-Semitism in T. S. Eliot's writing. He finds the explanations for the striking advertisement successes of William Shawn's New Yorker and William Paley's CBS. He uncovers the relationship among Larry Flynt's Hustler and Jerry Falwell's evangelism, among the atom bomb and the Scholastic flair attempt. He locates the significance of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, Pauline Kael, Christopher Lasch, and Rolling Stone journal. And he lends an ear to Al Gore within the White condo because the Starr document is ultimately awarded to the general public.

Like his severely acclaimed bestseller, The Metaphysical membership, American Studies is highbrow and cultural heritage at its top: online game and indifferent, with a robust interest concerning the political underpinnings of rules and concerning the purposes winning rules insinuate themselves into the tradition at huge. From one in all our best thinkers and critics, identified either for his "sly wit and reportorial high-jinks [and] readability and rigor" (The Nation), those essays are incisive, dazzling, and most unlikely to place down.

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Over time, my uncle and the other prisoners grasped the routine. If the officer said, "Come with me," that meant you were being called in for a session of torture. If he said, "Pack up," you were going to be killed. Those seconds 44 American Crescent of not knowing, between the time the officer entered the room and spoke his orders, must have been the most tense, frightening moments of my uncle's detention. Down through the months, the pool of prisoners dwindled, with every officer's appearance carrying a greater weight.

ENDLESS CARNAGE I lived simply in Qum. There, one comes of age at fifteen, and I was determined to be self-sufficient. Rejection of worldly life and ready acceptance of hardship were the most basic lessons of the seminary. My father had paid for the move to Iran and a new house in Qum and was helping, as much as he could, the relatives whose husbands and fathers had been taken in Iraq. The seminary itself helped somewhat: tuition was free, paid for by the tithing of millions of Shia. In addition, students received a small stipend, the equivalent of $75 per month, which covered basic expenses.

The second part of my name, Sayed, means "master" in Arabic and is an honorary title given to those who can trace their lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad. Like thousands of Muslims around the world, I am his direct descendant, thirty-nine generations removed. My given name, Hassan, is that of the Prophet's eldest grandson. "Al" is the definite article in Arabic, the equivalent of "the" in English. And the surname Qazwini literally means "one who comes from Qazwin," a Persian city Anglicized as Caspian and situated on the sea of the same name in Iran.

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