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This is a call for the re-knitting of a fragmented and over-tribalized America. It is a passionate book, filled with barbed wit and asides on public life, both left and right of centre. To the right, Hughes fires broadsides at the populist demagogy of Reagan and the Reaganites. To the left, he skewers political correctness, Afrocentrism, and academic obsession with theory, often totally remote from living issues. With the long retreat from public responsibilities that marked America in the 1980s Hughes sees "hollowness at the cultural core" - a nation "obsessed with therapies and filled with distrust of formal politics; sceptical of authority and prey to superstition, its language corroded by fake pity and euphemism". Hughes dismantles and inspects the core elements of the contemporary American ethos offers signposts on the way to a genuine non-ideological multi-culturalism, and to a political life realized (in Vaclav Havel's words) "not as the art of the useful but as practical morality, as service to the truth". The author also wrote "The Fatal Shore" and "Barcelona".
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