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  "The New American Exceptionalism"

Book Review

It was Marshall McLuhan who famously said: "The last one to ask about water would be a fish." But Donald E. Pease, Avalon Foundation Professor of the Humanities, Director of the Futures of American Studies Institute, and Director of the Master in Liberal Studies Program at Dartmouth College is the singular individual who can stand back and see what is going on in his cultural environment as it unfolds.
What he sees and describes in "The New American Exceptionalism,"(University of Minnesota Press, 256 pages, paper, $22.50) is how a state-directed and deeply-absorbed "fantasy" of the power and rightfulness of the United States took root as the nation emerged (in Harry Truman's words) as "Leader of the Free World" in the wake of the Second World War and what has happened to this "fantasy" since the Soviet Union collapsed only to be replaced by a new enemy. The Cold War was over; the war against "global terrorism" had begun.
Pease traces the shifts in the application and alteration of this sense of  post Cold War exceptionalism from the "New World Order" envisioned by the administration of George H. W. Bush to the Homeland Security State created by the administration of his son . At the same time, he reveals the glaring inconsistencies that have exposed the myths along the way from the revelations of illegal detentions and torture of prisoners to the exposures of government incompetency following Hurricane Katrina. He comes up to the present and a new state fantasy presented by Barack Obama, one that invokes American ideals of justice and inclusion but whose realization remains to be determined.
This "exceptional" work of great scope and brilliant insight marries cultural history with political theory. It is relevant, thought provoking, even ground-breaking. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING.

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Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan and It Happened in Miami , they preach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

As travel writers and food critics, they have published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet. Their interest in the intermingling of past and present in Jewish communities around the world has led to a body of work whose locales range from New Delhi to Istanbul to Sicily.

Accomplished and charismatic public speakers, the Frommers have appeared before live audiences and on the media throughout the United States lecturing on their books and travel experiences.

Harvey Frommer is an acclaimed sports journalist and historian, the author of 43 books on sports including the autobiographies of legends like Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman. He also authored the highly notable sports oral histories Remembering Yankee Stadium, Remembering Fenway Park and When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl.

Myrna Katz Frommer is a poet and contributor to such publications as The Forward, Ha'aretz, The New York Times, and The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

You can contact the Frommers at:,

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2016 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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