A Man Without A Country is something of a memoir by Kurt Vonnegut. It contains a number of passages he has written in recent years. Some of them are excerpts of articles he wrote as Senior Editor for In These Times, a political magazine out of Chicago. The passages are often short, containing little pearls of wisdom Vonnegut picked up throughout life. He also offers his opinion on then-President of the United States George W. Bush and his administration.
The passages are summarized by the book’s title. Vonnegut feels like he is lost in the modern world and is dumbfounded that it can be running the way it is. Through it all, he doesn’t come across as “the crotchety old man who doesn’t want anything to change” but rather as “the intelligent old man who thinks his people are making some poor life decisions.” Despite my love for technology, he has a particularly interesting passage on his disdain for it and his fear that it’s removing human interaction from our daily lives. There is an important sense of urgency and hope in his writing that is directed toward my generation, which I found particularly insightful:
I apologize to all of you who are the same age as my grandchildren. And many of you reading this are the same age as my grandchildren. They, like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government. Yes, this planet is in a terrible mess. But it has always been a mess. There have never been any “Good Old Days,” there have just been days. And as I say to my grandchildren, “Don’t look at me. I just got here.” (p. 130-131)
I think it’s important for the members of my generation to remember that we can change the world. Maybe it’s not a great idea to demonize the Baby Boomers, but it’s important to acknowledge and understand the mistakes of yesterday and today so that they can be remedied tomorrow. Change and adaptation are how our culture evolves, and just because the ideals of people currently in power may prevent us from changing the world today doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be planning on changing the world tomorrow.
As you can see, this book is one that will get you thinking. It hits near the top of my favorites of all-time, but it loses a few points for some (perhaps well-founded) cheap jokes at the expense of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with critiquing or bashing the Bush administration, but if you’re going to make a joke, it should probably have a broader point. Some of Vonnegut’s didn’t. Still, it definitely one you shouldn’t skip. Go grab a copy today!