Book publishers are like wolves: They travel in packs. One gets an idea, and everyone else rushes to imitate it. Thus it is that of the eight books I've reviewed in the past month, three have been about something alleged to be "an American icon." First there was rum, which Wayne Curtis in "And a Bottle of Rum" called "classically American." Then there was the popular music guru John Hammond, who, according to Dunstan Prial in "The Producer," championed "uniquely American music." Now we have bluejeans, which James Sullivan would have us believe embody "two centuries' worth of the myths and ideals of American culture."
Hey, the plane's still at the gate. Anyone else want to get on board? What about Coca-Cola? Jambalaya? Alice Waters? Little Richard? Boston baked beans? Warren Buffett? The Chevy Corvette? Newt Gingrich? Paris Hilton? Buddy Holly? Parson Weems? Lizzie Borden? Aren't they "American icons"? Shouldn't all of us be reading books about them, books that show how they "changed America" and "made us what we are today" and embody "everything it means to be American"?
Monday, August 14, 2006
You Know What Makes America America?
Jeans. Or maybe not. Jonathan Yardley takes exception to a recent trend in book publishing:
Posted by Tom at 10:27 AM