by Dinesh D’Souza
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.