Waspishly sober-sided hymnal for WASPs. Reading Brookhiser, one echoes the same complaint that arises with Saul Bellow: My...

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THE WAY OF THE WASP: How It Made America, and How It Can Save It, So to Speak

Waspishly sober-sided hymnal for WASPs. Reading Brookhiser, one echoes the same complaint that arises with Saul Bellow: My stars, the guy is all style and substance. A through-line of spinal energy is lacking, glazed over, or, in Brookhiser's case, replaced by a faint glacial smile of unassuming righteousness. What's he all about? Well, as a preface he gives us his pedigree: he is of German-English-French Catholic background, has been a senior editor at National Review for 12 years; in Manhattan he knows only two Protestants (both lapsed, one Japanese); and his publicity tells that he's a Yale graduate, writes for The New Yorker's ""Talk of the Town"" column, contributes to The American Spectator, and in 1982 wrote speeches for then Vice President Bush. All of this info mirrors Brookhiser's lofty factuality as he attacks his thesis paragraph by marching paragraph. In his opinion, America needs saving and only the WASP can do it. It's the superior tradition. Or axe we misled by our procession of white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Presidents? Are they not ""an accurate indicator of the way we live now""? (Brookhiser gives every clichÉ a disarming entrechat.) We need less befuddlement on high and more clear-cut leadership as the man in the White House shapes American life. ""It is not that WASPs are unable to think, exactly. . .It's that WASPs seem to do their thinking in bursts--a lightning flash of brilliance, with decades of darkness until the next one."" If the course is plain, why think? ""It is possible for a culture to think too much for its own good."" But WASP society is the best in the world, ""safer, freer, and richer than any other."" Remedies suggested for present dispiritedness include lowering the capital gains tax, giving parents the choice between public and tax-supported private schools, bringing order to federal art funding, and risking a WASP renaissance that gives the drug-ridden lower classes something to work for. A shot in the arm that will leave many leaden-eyed.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 1990

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1990