Britain’s most readable journalist takes on his biggest challenge – America.
Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? Today the answer more often than not is going to be ‘not born’. You have to be some way past 45 to know where you were when Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963. A generation later, you could ask the same question about the World Trade Centre. Where were you when the plane hit the twin towers on 11 September 2001? But this book is about what happened between those two moments. The world’s perception of America changed between those two waves.
A.A. Gill’s book is about the things he’s always found admirable and optimistic about the United States and its citizens. Two of the happiest times of his life were spent living in New York and the mountains of Kentucky. The contrast between the two couldn’t have been more complicated and different. The America he found was contradictory and elusive, not the simpletons’ place he’d been led to believe. It was still a list of raw ingredients rather than the old stew of Europe.
Now A.A. Gill takes another look at the America he knew in the 1970s, a place that seemed to hold promise, practical energy and a plan for the future. How did it become the political magnetic north, against which the liberal intellectuals from the rest of the world set their opinions? Why is it so easily mocked, so comprehensively blamed, so thoughtlessly hated?
This book is a collection of linked essays based around places that will open up truths and mythologies about America and Americans. The theme of his journey will be searching for ‘the home of’. Every other small town in America boasts on its Welcome sign that it is the home of something or other: a mountain, a mine, peaches, spotted pigs, a president, the world’s biggest ball of string, barbecues, the deepest hole. So that’s where A.A. Gill starts, going to find the home of everything.