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In April 1997, Montreal-born, Halifax-bred PBS anchorman MacNeil, of The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, raised his right hand in a Manhattan INS office and swore to "renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty." This act was the culmination of a lifelong search for national identity for the self-styled "Anglo-Canadian-American." Shuttling between the BBC and NBC during his early career, for years MacNeil yearned for an environment more stimulating than his famously reticent homeland, yet never felt fully at home in England or the U.S. However, after 20 years (1975-1995), MacNeil's identification with New York City was solid. MacNeil found himself unable to yield entirely to the sometimes lovable, sometimes irksome American egotism, but after September 11, he discovered his emotions had caught up to his somewhat intellectual decision to become naturalized. In his customary cozy and elusive manner, MacNeil here treads lightly regarding his own motivations. Part memoir, part rumination, this slender volume contains many newsy anecdotes, which sometimes detour from his progress in yielding to America's charms. That some of these stories appeared in MacNeil's 1982 memoir The Right Place at the Right Time reinforces the impression that this is not truly a book-length subject. Still, this is a thoughtful and intelligent examination by a nationally famous import who found his place in a land of immigrants.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
After retiring from the PBS news show he created with Jim Lehrer, Canadian MacNeil became a U.S. citizen. This rumination about his change of nationality emanates from the terrorist attacks of September 11: "For the first time in my long history of equivocation, I felt defensive about America." MacNeil begins by listing examples of the polite anti-Americanism that exists in Canada and was embodied by his parents. An Anglophile, his mother praised all things English, including clothes, crockery, and accents, which were so much more cultured than those of the twangy-speaking braggarts below the forty-ninth parallel. MacNeil's father, a corvette captain in World War II, added a quotient of imperial superiority: Americans were late to the war and slouches as sailors and soldiers. MacNeil then gives an account of his early and middle career, using stories about the newsroom to thoughtfully muse on his opinions about America, which if they kept the country "on probation" yet evolved in an empathic direction. Gracefully written and pleasing in its insights and bemusements, MacNeil's memoir is a cut above the pack Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.