In Look Homeward, America, Bill Kauffman introduces us to the reactionary radicals, front-porch anarchists, and traditionalist rebels who give American culture and politics its pith, vim, and life. Blending history, memoir, digressive literariness, and polemic, Kauffman provides fresh portaiture of such American originals as Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, regionalist painter Grant Wood, farmer-writer Wendell Berry, publisher Henry Regnery, maverick U.S. senators Eugene McCarthy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and other Americans who can't—or shouldn't—be filed away in the usual boxes labeled "liberal" and "conservative." Ranging from Millard Fillmore to Easy Rider, from Robert Frost to Mother Jones, Kauffman limns an alternative America that draws its breath from local cultures, traditional liberties, small-scale institutions, and neighborliness.
There is an America left that is worth saving: these are its paragons, its poets, its pantheon.
|What They're Saying...||
"Bill Kauffman is an impeccably honest, witty, insightful observer of American politics and culture who is committed to that which is small, local, and nonviolent. Although he has been characterized as a populist, an agrarian libertarian, and a paleo conservative, Kauffman is above all his own man. With many political writers you can figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys are just by looking at the title of the piece. Not so with Kauffman. You've got to read the entire piece."
"There may have been better books than Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists, published in 2006, but I didn’t read them. In Look Homeward, Kauffman celebrates those uniquely American radicals who make this the country it is, and does it with humor, grace and keen perception…Whatever your ideology, Bill Kauffman’s words will touch your soul and make you long for his America."
"Bill Kauffman is the finest literary stylist writing within the broad twenty-first-century conservative dispensation and among the keenest minds in contemporary American letters. Sometimes an agrarian libertarian, on other occasions a populist or a 'peace and love' paleoconservative, Kauffman defies the standard categories. Above all, he is—like Russell Kirk—a localist, rooted in his beloved (if not always lovely) Batavia, New York, region. Look Homeward, America celebrates the 'insubordinate Americans' who cherish their families, their neighborhoods, and their liberties and who distrust the cant pouring out of Washington, DC. With felicitous ease, the volume moves from side-splitting humor to profound insight to wise prescription. In its grand affirmation of the true American spirit, Look Homeward, America will challenge, dazzle, and delight the reader."
"Bill Kauffman is the Sage of Batavia."
"Kauffman’s marvelous trick of praising to the skies and then noting shortcomings and even vices increases the fascination of his remarks on such defenders of 'family, community, [and] local self-rule' as Wendell Berry, Grant Wood, Carolyn Chute, Millard Fillmore...More marvelous is that Kauffman, who freely injects himself into his prose, treats himself the same way; he vaunts his stance on something and then acknowledges his contradictions on the same matter. If figures he considers overrated don’t get the same treatment, well, that helps keep things snappy. His writing persona couldn’t be more appealing."
"Kaufmann combines an acerbic wit with an encyclopedic knowledge of ignored American characters to create enchanting allusions and flat-out rants that may remind readers of comedian Dennis Miller. The crucial difference being that unlike Miller, Kaufmann has a point."
"This particular cynical idealist (or should that be idealistic cynic?) is the real deal when it comes to actually living the small-town life and celebrating its many virtues. As such, he is also an American treasure—a more than occasionally maddening treasure, but a treasure nonetheless."
"If you are the kind of conservative who despairs over the chain-store, geography-of-nowhere, slob-in-the-grey-velour-sweatsuit consumerist crapulence that is devouring the American cultural landscape like kudzu—well, Bill Kauffman is your man."
"Kauffman wants us to know there is a better way, that is, as the inside jacket of his new book says, 'There is an America left that is worth saving.'"
"In this celebration of what Kauffman calls America's 'traditionalist rebels,' passages of considerable eloquence are all the more arresting precisely because they appear in a work otherwise characterized by such unrestrained jollity."
"Bill Kauffman is a writer who defies categorization, which is only appropriate because people who defy categorization happens to be his favorite subject: his latest book, Look Homeward, America... illustrates how the tired old labels of 'left' and 'right' no longer seem to apply…"
"The American pageant includes a huge supporting cast of idealists, eccentrics, crackpots, and cranks. Telling their stories can only enrich the texture of the tale."
"[T]his book has a Whitmanesque quality about it: it is a song to liberty, truth, goodness, and beauty, to family and community, to hearth and home, to farm and small town. It's a call to those of similar principles to keep on keeping on, and bring America home again."
"Bill Kauffman is a chronicler, historian, and social critic. He possesses an equanimity and discernment that provides a unique perspective that deserves our attention. He is a Jeffersonian de-centralist, thought criminal, word tossing anarchist, and champion of America's gutted, Walmartized small towns. 'Mine is a Middle America,' Kauffman writes, 'profoundly un-imperial patriotism based in love of American music, poetry, places, quirks and commonalities, historical crotchets, holy fools and eminent Kansans.' Perhaps, John Prine had it right all along. Go ahead and 'blow up your T.V.,' then read Look Homeward, America."
"Bill Kauffman's latest book is a sympathetic look at various American politicians, artists, rabble-rousers, poets and saints—assorted men and women who do not quite fit into our usual political categories and often hold ideas that to the mainstream seem odd if not downright perverse… All these people have in common that, in one way or another, they supported localism and regional identity, opposed the burgeoning American empire, and refuse to fit neatly into the silly Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative categories…"
"[W]e can still educate our individual souls. . . and his book is a fine place for most of us to begin."
|Eligible for Readers Club Discount||Yes|