Review

American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions

by Chris Matthews



In startling contrast with his MSNBC show "Hardball," Chris
Matthews has composed a moving reflection about America. Whether
you are a "Hardball" fan or critic, you will find this book both
insightful and moving. Matthews does not redefine America but
instead reawakens us to the notions that make America such a grand
nation.

In AMERICAN, Matthews proposes "Ten Grand American Notions:" a
self-made country, the constant rebel, the reluctant warrior, the
common man, the lone hero, the underdog, pioneers, action, optimism
and American exceptionalism. Each notion is accompanied by stories
of American legends that personify it. The "characters" of the book
are both fictional and real-life heroes. Whether speaking of
Casablanca's Ricky or former President John F. Kennedy, Matthews
captivates his audience with fascinating quips, motivating quotes
and heartfelt memoirs.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of this book is its timeliness. In a
time of international turmoil and political conflict, AMERICAN
reminds us of what our nation was founded on, what it has endured,
what it is we are fighting to defend. Void of personal bias and
political preferences, Matthews delivers an objective view of our
country's history. He hails the good --- George Washington's
perseverance during the Revolutionary War, the heroic firefighters
of September 11 --- without forgetting to condemn the evils of
corrupt politics and slavery.

AMERICAN is written in a conversational style not often seen in
history texts. Rather than continuous narrative, Matthews prefers
to tell the story through short glimpses of the past. Appropriate
pictures are interspersed among the pages, breaking the chapters
into more readable portions.

The only downfall of the book is that by the last few chapters the
endless stories and quotes become tiresome and begin to lack life,
which left me wishing for some of Matthews' trademark witticism.
Overall, however, this is a great piece of work that every American
should read.

Reviewed by Melissa Brown on January 20, 2011

American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions
by Chris Matthews

  • Publication Date: November 4, 2002
  • Genres: Current Events, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • ISBN-10: 0743240863
  • ISBN-13: 9780743240864