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America Day by Day Hardcover – January 5, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1ST edition (January 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520209796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520209794
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It has been a good year for the French existentialist and feminist, with the recent publication of de Beauvoir's love letters to Nelson Algren and now this account, published in the U.S. for the first time, of her four-month tour in 1947. De Beauvoir can be facile and condescending, as when she compares the "strained coldness of white American women" to "lively" black women, or writes: "And when you see these men dance, their sensual life unrestrained by an armor of Puritan virtue, you understand how much sexual jealousy can enter into the white Americans' hatred of these quick bodies." Often, however, de Beauvoir is more clever and subtle: "I sense that America is hard on intellectuals. Publishers and editors size up your mind in a critical and distasteful way, like an impresario asking a dancer to show her legs," she writes, and elsewhere, "Los Angeles is vast but porous. [Chicago] is made of a thick dough, without leavening." De Beauvoir's itinerary, set by lecture dates, is a bizarre combination of the banal (hotels, drugstores), tourist traps (Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas) and the dark underbelly of slaughterhouses, drug addicts and Bowery bums. But she inevitably returns to the same themes: black/white relations, political commitment and comparison of the U.S. and France. While she mentions Algren by initials, de Beauvoir gives no inkling of her passionate interest in him, attesting to her ability to compartmentalize romantic and intellectual pursuits. There is a natural cerebral quality to this book that prevents it from becoming ponderous. It will easily attract those interested in de Beauvoir, travel writing and the intersection of American intellectual and popular culture in the postwar years. First serial to Conde Nast Traveler. (Jan.) FYI: The New Press has published de Beauvoir's letters to Algren as A Transatlantic Love Affair (Forecasts, Sept. 7).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86) spent four months in the United States in 1947. Traveling by car, train, and bus, she lectured from coast to coast at the most prestigious colleges and universities, immersing herself in the wonders and woes of American culture. This is the first American edition of her journal, published as L'Amerique au Jour le Jour in France in 1948 and translated and published in England in 1952. Writing from notes, letters, and memories, de Beauvoir details with vivid insight aspects of American life and culture including the New York Bowery, slaughterhouses and burlesques in Chicago, African American church services, racism, politics, films, jazz, Muzak, marijuana, and cocktail parties. She provides sharp sociological perspective on American women, adolescents, college students, public and private higher education, and the inertia of the late 1940s. Impressive, compelling, thought-provoking, and highly recommended.?Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "really-siobhan" on July 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I never met Simone but the visit to America that resulted in this book ended the day I was born and we knew people in common, including Nelson Algren. This book is fun. We think of Simone as the woman who initiated the second wave of feminism with her book, "The Second Sex;" as the companion of Jean-Paul Sartre, a man plagued by lobsters and his own sense of self; as the globe-trotting political activist. Some may know her as the author of the frightening novel, "She Came To Stay." The Simone who wrote this book was the best part of Simone de Beauvoir. The book is a snapshot of America, entering the center stage of world power, taken by a native of a country whose time of leadership has passed. It is also the story of a middle-aged woman falling in love. This book was unavailable for many years but it is important both as a view of America in mid-century and as an insight into one of the most important women of the 20th century.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Before reading it, I was concerned that the writing might be pretentious and annoying. But she essentially came here with an open mind and maintained it throughout her stay. She portrayed 1940's America beautifully.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Like de Toqueville before her, Simone de Beauvoir analyzes America, its present state and future promise, as only an outsider can, objectively, without influence or taint from the very values and phenomena under examination. If that makes _America Day by Day_ sound like something other than a travel book, good, because it is much, much more.

It is an insightful essay on the very things that define us as a nation: our optimism, our work ethic, our *color line,* and our politics. Offered to us episodically, in the pages of her travel journal, her thoughts on American society are so accurate and penetrating that her conclusions remain relevant today.

Her main conclusion is this: "...America is one of the pivotal points of the world, where the future of man is being played out. To 'like' America, to 'dislike' it -- these words have no meaning. It is a battlefield, and you can only become passionate about the battle it is waging with itself, in which stakes are beyond measure." Everyone should read this book to discover why we are a "pivotal point" and what that means for us and the rest of the nations of the world.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An excellent place to begin seeing America through critical eyes. A companion piece to this is Henry Miller's "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare."
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