The Corner

Culture

The Case for Nationalism Is Almost Out, and Some Reviews Are In

My new book, The Case for Nationalism, is out on Tuesday. A couple of early reviews appeared last week. I am, not surprisingly, partial to the favorable review in the Washington Examiner, which is very thoughtful and gets what I tried to do:

Lowry’s book is part theoretical defense of nationalism and part history of American nationalism. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Anthony Smith, Lowry dismisses a number of fashionable arguments used to discredit nationalism. Nationalism is not a recent invention (one can see the stirrings of English nationalism as early as the 8th century), nor is it inherently racist or aggressive (prejudice and violence are constants throughout human history). Perhaps more important for contemporary debates on the Right, Lowry attacks the idea that one can separate a values-based “civic nationalism” (good) from an “ethno-nationalism” (bad). Americanness (or Frenchness or Britishness) is not defined by race or blood, but neither can it be reduced to a set of abstract propositions. It is also a set of collective memories and myths, patterns of culture and history, and a relationship between the people and the land. Our patriotic songs are not just hymns to the Constitution — they praise our landscape (“O beautiful for spacious skies”) and our ancestors (“land where my fathers died”) as well. Nobody singing or listening to them would ever get a catch in their throat if they didn’t.

The Washington Post, on the other hand, goes after it hammer and tongs (more about that in a bit), and Gabe Schoenfeld at The American Interest is more mixed, but not a fan, either.

 

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