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What's So Great About America 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 308 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1410873868
ISBN-10: 0895261537
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Look again at the title of this book: it's not a question, but a statement. "America is the greatest, freest, and most decent society in existence," writes Dinesh D'Souza. "American life as it is lived today [is] the best life that our world has to offer." There are those who hate it, or at least essential elements of it, from radical Islamists to the likes of Patrick Buchanan (on the right) and Jesse Jackson (on the left). But they are wrong to hate it, and D'Souza grapples with all of them in this engaging and compelling volume. D'Souza is the author of provocative books such as Illiberal Education and The End of Racism, plus the appreciative Ronald Reagan. This may be his most personal book, with parts written in the first person as the India-born D'Souza describes his encounter with the United States, first as an immigrant and now as a citizen. Foreign authors such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Gunnar Myrdal have offered some of the most penetrating assessments of America, and D'Souza clearly shares in this noble tradition. "I am constantly surprised by how much I hear racism talked about and how little I actually see it," he writes. What's So Great About America is also vintage D'Souza, full of feisty arguments and sharp humor. He is perhaps better at explaining why America's critics are wrong than explaining why America's celebrants are right, but he's very good at both. Written in the months following the September 11 terrorist strikes, this book should find a large and receptive audience. --John Miller

From Publishers Weekly

It's easy to see the appeal of D'Souza's patriotic cheerleading. A former domestic policy analyst under Reagan, he sees the world in black and white: on one side, America "the best life our world has to offer" on the other, "the enemy, which conducts its operations in the name of Islam." To his credit, D'Souza (Illiberal Education, etc.) lays out his case well, although little here is new: America, he says, is a land of opportunity and freedom (D'Souza himself immigrated to the U.S. from India), and those who oppose American policy are simply jealous. But he doesn't stop with exhortations to fellow citizens about why the war against terrorism is righteous. D'Souza, a leading conservative thinker, revels in thumbing his nose at his ideological opponents: one of his chapters is provocatively named "Two Cheers for Colonialism." In this chapter, D'Souza trumpets the science, democracy and capitalism that he believes have led the West to global supremacy. Along the way, he spares no chance to bash those who he thinks have "denigrated" America and trivialized its freedom: multiculturalists, feminists, hippies and vegetarians. For the most part, D'Souza steers clear of criticizing his fellow conservatives, and when he does, as when he lectures them about the need to combine morality with freedom, he lacks specifics. In the end, reading D'Souza's book is similar to spending an hour listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio his fellow travelers will love it; readers on the left will love to hate it.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; 1st edition (April 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895261537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895261533
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (308 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joel L. Gandelman VINE VOICE on July 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a shame 21st century USA is so polarized where being a liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican (etc.) means either entirely accepting without question ideas along party or ideological lines -- or entirely without question rejecting them. People don't want to give "the (domestic political) enemy" a full hearing, let alone even partly CONSIDER a foe's arguments, even if they're reasoned and make actually make SENSE.
It's a shame because this book (published by the conservative publishing house Regnery, which is itself like waving a red flag in front of a bull for some people) is so engaging,
well-written, convincing and solid that Dinesh D'Souza may one day be considered a modern day Alexis de Tocqueville.
Three fascinating levels mark this highly perceptive book:
1. D'Souza, who became a US citizen in 1991, shares how his life would have been quite different if he had grown up in his native India.
2. He makes fascinating observations about how US life and culture differ from various parts of the world, especially the Third World. These are the ones future generations may consider on the same level as de Tocqueville's.
3. And then there is material directly related to the book's title. He makes the case, in a nutshell, that other cultures (especially fundamentalist Islamic) detest the United States
because Americans are inner-directed and can write their own life's script, while Islamic culture seeks a life controlled and dictated by others.
One key conclusion certainly will not endear him to Islamic fundamentalists. He says the Islamic world is nothing without oil revenues.

"The only reason it (the Islamic world) makes the news is by killing people," he writes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a surprise. From the title and cover art I was expecting a 4th of July - My country `tis of thee - stand at attention and salute book full of patriotic drivel. But this is a very substantial and thoughtful study of America's institutions and its critics. And the author has a gift for straightforward, easy to understand exposition.

Dinesh D'Souza came to the U.S. as an exchange student from Bombay, India in 1978. He has had an illustrious career in this, his adoptive country. He's been active in politics as a Presidential advisor and in other capacities, but is mainly a scholar and writer. He spent ten years with the American Enterprise Institution and at the time of writing this book was a Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The first chapter tackles all the standard criticisms of America which eminate from the Left, Europe and Islam. In a style that characterizes the entire book, D'Souza presents the arguments and/or complaints against America, its actions, culture, or whatever. He then replies with a calm, logical, polite but emphatic refutation. As well as being informative, this book is a lesson in the proper way to conduct a debate.

Not all the complaints against America are refutable. America is not perfect and D'Souza is the first to admit it. He never engages in casuistry but admits the faults, past and present, with candor. In a Chapter titled "Two Cheers for Colonialism" he describes the wrongs of Western Colonialism, but also argues convincingly that by and large the benefits for those Colonized have outweighed the wrongs.

He avers that the reason the West became the dominant civilization in the modern era is because it invented three institutions: science, democracy and capitalism.
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Format: Hardcover
...an important point the author made in the book.
If all cultures are equal, if everything is relative, if no culture can really be termed "superior" to another, why is it that every year, all over the world, millions of people vote with their feet for America and the American way of life? People immigrate here from every corner of the world, and it's virtually a one way traffic. How many Americans choose to emigrate to Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Thailand, or Poland? But people from other countries are so eager to come here that they will do it illegally if they cannot do it any other way. If America is so terrible, how did we become the richest, most prosperous nation on earth? I know many would say it's because we are oppressors, and we have exploited the rest of the world, both people and natural resources, until we are on top, but this doesn't wash. While we are no angels, to be sure, neither are we really comparable to history's REAL oppressors, such as the Nazis, or the communists (who not only killed more millions of people than the Nazis, but had a far, far worse record of raping and polluting the environment than any Western country). I have yet to hear a multiculturalist give me a convincing answer to this.
Multiculturalists, like most modern leftists, live in an idealized universe; they have long since lost the habit of testing ideas against their actual results in the real world. If you look the facts in the face, it's very hard to disagree with most of what D'Souza says.
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Format: Hardcover
For college students such as myself, D'Souza's book serves as a front line of defense against relentless attacks, by the institutionalized left in academia, against America and American culture as a positive force in the world. I am not entirely unbiased, however. I was lucky enough to assist in research for the book, and the experience was quite rewarding. What is unique about this book, though, is that it is more than just blind patriotism. D'Souza gives some of the best expositions of the critiques of America before answering them. Moreover, he meets today's most prominent critique, the Muslim critique, on its own assumptions, or better put, in the context of its own worldview. This book is especially relevent for all Americans, because the issues he addresses are not only those issues that come from the left, but also from some on the right. In very direct terms, D'Souza speaks to conservatives concerned about the moral state of America, Asian cultures that seek "modernization without westernization," multiculturalists, Muslim fundamentalists, and the current leadership of the Civil Rights movement. Regardless of political ideology, this book will make its readers think. It is humorous, provocative, and one that the reader will return to more than once for its many insights.
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