Sunday, October 25, 2015

What is Gil Troy reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gil Troy, author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s.

His entry begins:
I just finished a wild, creative, self-proclaimed “philosophical rampage” by Ze’ev Maghen called Imagine: John Lennon and the Jews. More than a book about John Lennon or Jews, the book is really about the existential crisis facing modern America – and the West. The book dissects Lennon’s classic song “Imagine,” using that to symbolize much of what ails us.

Maghen is a charming, cranky particularist, who fears “Imagine”’s universalism, its faux cosmopolitanism. Maghen doesn’t want to live in a world with no countries and no loyalties and no tribes and no boundaries, which makes you just live for “today-ay-ay.” He believes that human beings need tribes, commitments, communities, stories, as frameworks that make them work together – and build a better world together, which is what Judaism seeks. The universalist all too often loves humanity abstractly, in theory not in practice. The particularist, the nationalist, the loyalist, has to learn to love his or her allies in real life. While, of course, that love can turn into xenophobia and bigotry, it is also the only real way to love truly.

In Maghen’s best riff, he talks about proposing to a young lady, starting with “I love you” but making that love Lennonist (not Leninist), saying...[read on]
About The Age of Clinton, from the publisher:
The 1990s was a decade of extreme change. Seismic shifts in culture, politics, and technology radically altered the way Americans did business, expressed themselves, and thought about their role in the world. At the center of it all was Bill Clinton, the talented, charismatic, and flawed Baby Boomer president and his controversial, polarizing, but increasingly popular wife Hillary.

Although it was in many ways a Democratic Gilded Age, the final decade of the twentieth century was also a time of great anxiety. The Cold War was over, America was safe, stable, free, and prosperous, and yet Americans felt more unmoored, anxious, and isolated than ever. Having lost the script telling us our place in the world, we were forced to seek new anchors. This was the era of glitz and grunge, when we simultaneously relished living in the Republic of Everything even as we feared it might degenerate into the Republic of Nothing. Bill Clinton dominated this era, a man of passion and of contradictions both revered and reviled, whose complex legacy has yet to be clearly defined.

In this unique analysis, historian Gil Troy examines Clinton's presidency alongside the cultural changes that dominated the decade. By taking the '90s year-by-year, Troy shows how the culture of the day shaped the Clintons even as the Clintons shaped it. In so doing, he offers answers to two of the enduring questions about Clinton's legacy: how did such a talented politician leave Americans thinking he accomplished so little when he actually accomplished so much? And, to what extent was Clinton responsible for the catastrophes of the decade that followed his departure from office, specifically 9/11 and the collapse of the housing market?

Even more relevant as we head toward the 2016 election, The Age of Clinton will appeal to readers on both sides of the aisle.
Learn more about the book and author at Gil Troy's website and blog.

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My Book, The Movie: The Age of Clinton.

The Page 99 Test: The Age of Clinton.

Writers Read: Gil Troy.

--Marshal Zeringue