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A Man Without a Country: A Memoir of Life in George W. Bush's America Hardcover – 6 Feb 2006
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'Thank God, Kurt Vonnegut has broken his promise that he will never write another book. In this wondrous assemblage of mini-memoirs, we discover his family's legacy and his obstinate, unfashionable humanism' Studs Terkel 'Vonnegut's A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY is pure late Twain, darkly funny, never less than enraged at corruption and greed, and overflowing with compassion for the powerless. We've never needed him more' Russell Banks 'The verve for life amid stunningly depressing news, and that backhanded, refreshingly brutal, but infinitely whimsical way of viewing the world around him, continues to stand out in every odd word Vonnegut puts to paper.' The Onion 'Like his literary ancestor Mark Twain, his crankiness is good-humoured and sharp-witted, and aimed at well-defended soft spots of hypocrisy and arrogance.' New York Times Book Review
"A Man Without A Country" is Kurt Vonnegut's hilariously funny and razor-sharp look at life, art, politics, himself and the condition of the soul of America today. Written over the last five years in the form of a loose memoir, with the examples of Mark Twain, Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, and a saintly doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis powerfully in mind, "A Man without a Country" is an intimate and tender communication from one individual to his fellow humans - sometimes kidding, at other times despairing, always searching. It is illustrated throughout with Vonnegut's trademark artwork.See all Product description
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This set of writings is a kind of brief touchstone for many of his central concerns. The only problem is that they are brief and often retain the levity and wit at the expense of the passion of the principles behind them. If this book was all you knew of Kurt Vonnegut you'd probably think he was just a carping lightweight. The substance of the man doesn't come through. But read it anyway, because it's fun, it's also angry in places, and it contains a lot of feeling if you look beyond the throw-away quirkiness. RIP Kurt. Your like will not be easily found.
Vonnegut's mentor, Mark Twain, expressed the same sadness and remorse over the same people. That might suggest things haven't really gotten worse. Vonnegut, however, recognises that his country today exercises vastly more influence in the world, both physically and morally than that of Twain's day. "In case you haven't noticed" he cries, elections are stolen in the USA, its unelected leaders have dehumanized millions, "so I'm a man without a country". He fears things will go beyond this condition to apply the same standards to the entire planet. He foresees an epitaph for "the good Earth - we could have saved it, but we were to damn cheap and lazy."
The phrase "bitter old man" is certain to occur to readers of this collection. That judgement, of course, flies in the face of the voice of a man who's watched the course of the USA in a long lifetime. His most famous work, "Slaughterhouse Five", subtitled "The Children's Crusade" was a humanist's cry for increased awareness among his readers. That awareness, if it ever truly existed widely, has been snuffed out among Vonnegut's countrymen of today. This book recognises that new condition with a strident cry of protest. Why has this happened?, he demands. That he's published this collection is an acknowledgement that all may not be lost. Without boasting, instead he reminds of us his teachings with pickings from his earlier writings. If there is to be hope for Vonnegut's society and even the entire world, it would be wise to read and heed what he has to say. And to understand why he says it. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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