Six essays on the general theme of patriotism on trial first published in the New Yorker. Lang begins with the conspiracy...

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PATRIOTISM WITHOUT FLAGS

Six essays on the general theme of patriotism on trial first published in the New Yorker. Lang begins with the conspiracy trial of Dr. Spock who cited patriotism as the motive for his anti-war activities, and goes on to talk to a group of deserters in Sweden, a returned ex-marine trying to assimilate his war experiences, a young soldier who went AWOL for two years and a Rochester school teacher who was sacked for refusing to salute the flag. None of these people were able to reconcile their personal ideals of the ""truly American"" with the institutional demantis placed on them. The deserters were sickened either by Vietnam or by the cynical moneymaking ""rackets"" they saw in the military. Susan Russo, the teacher, though never politically active, just decided that ""patriotism is a private matter"" cheapened by bugles, drums and flag-waving ceremonials. The several pieces here never quite coalesce into a book; Lang raises the question of whether or not it is possible to speak of patriotism contra the government but never argues it through. One essay -- which seems out of place -- examines why atomic weapons were not used in Indochina. Walking the corridors of power and interviewing Defense Department officials and Rand consultants, Lang notes that moral objections against the bomb were eschewed -- it was simply deemed impractical to fire the ""nukes."" With Vietnam behind us and the moral currency of the government more devalued than ever, the book seems weak-kneed and dated.

Pub Date: May 20, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974