Rebecca's Reviews > The Partly Cloudy Patriot

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
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really liked it
bookshelves: essays, history, memoirs, political, travel-books

(3.5) Essays on politics, culture and personal life from an unabashed U.S. history nerd. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Assassination Vacation, and once again the material feels a little bit dated, but this is still valuable commentary on the nauseating surge of faux patriotism after 9/11 (the title piece), the suspicion of intelligence and passionate interests that ultimately explains Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 election (“The Nerd Voice,” the centerpiece of the book), and the enduring, if mythical, appeal of the American West (“This Strenuous Life”). I particularly liked the essay in the form of a letter to Bill Clinton advising him not to leave out the bad stuff in the exhibits at his new presidential library (“Ike Was a Handsome Man”) and one about the mostly harmless but kitschy commercialization of America’s national parks by way of the underground lunchroom at Carlsbad Caverns. I got through 180 of the book’s 197 pages on one rainy day, so that tells you it’s pretty compulsive reading.

Favorite lines:

“Along with voting, jury duty, and paying taxes, goofing off is one of the central obligations of American citizenship.”

“Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know.”

“The true American patriot is by definition skeptical of the government. … My ideal picture of citizenship will always be an argument, not a sing-along.”
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Reading Progress

July 20, 2018 – Started Reading
July 21, 2018 – Shelved
July 21, 2018 – Shelved as: essays
July 21, 2018 – Shelved as: history
July 21, 2018 – Shelved as: memoirs
July 21, 2018 – Shelved as: political
July 21, 2018 – Shelved as: travel-books
July 21, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Cheri (new)

Cheri Terrific review, Rebecca, I may have to get this for my son


Rebecca Cheri wrote: "Terrific review, Rebecca, I may have to get this for my son"

I'm going to pass my copy on to a friend who's big into history and politics.


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