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American Vertigo
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About the Author

Bernard-Henry Levy is a philosopher, journalist, activist, and filmmaker. He was hailed by Vanity Fair magazine as "Superman and prophet: we have no equivalent in the United States." Among his dozens of books are Barbarism with a Human Face and Who Killed Daniel Pearl? His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications throughout Europe and the United States. His films include the documentaries Bosna! and A Day in the Death of Sarajevo. Levy is co-founder of the antiracist group SOS Racism and has served on diplomatic missions for the French government.

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French philosopher/activist L?vy treads where his famed compatriot once trod, gauging the success of America's experiment in democracy. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Bernard-Henry Levy does nothing that goes unnoticed. He is an intellectual adventurer who brings publicity to unfashionable political causes."
-The New York Times

Levy's journey through this "magnificent, mad country" is indeed vertiginous as he loops from coast to coast and back, mounting to the heights of wealth and power-interviewing the likes of Barry Diller and John Kerry-and plunging into the depths of poverty and powerlessness, in urban ghettoes and prisons. (In this last, he truly follows Tocqueville, whose assignment in the young America was to visit prisons.) Each scene is quite short, which is frustrating at first, but soon the quick succession of images creates a jostling, animated portrait of America, full of resonances and contradictions. Sharon Stone in her luxurious home, railing about the misery of the poor, is quickly followed by Levy's chat with a waitress in a Colorado town struggling to make ends meet. A gated retirement community in Arizona seems to the author like a prison, while Angola, a prison in Louisiana, has lush grounds that resemble a retirement community's. Levy (Who Killed Daniel Pearl), the celebrated French thinker and journalist, is a master of the vignette and the miniature, whether explaining why he could feel at home in Seattle or pondering whether Diller's apparent amorality is "too flaunted to be completely sincere." In France, where anti-Americanism has been so popular, Levy has been an anti-anti-Americanist, and while he finds serious fissures in this country's social landscape, in the end he is an optimist about the future of a country he admires for the richness of its culture and its political vision. (Feb. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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