Author and filmmaker Russell Banks
(The Reserve, The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction
), who has 16 well-crafted novels under his belt, ventures into nonfiction with this meditation on the origins of America. Banks has never been reticent about his progressive leanings and gives them full license in this offhanded critique of American imperial roots. This book originates from an 11-hour interview Banks did to narrate a French documentary about American cinema. Banks edited the transcript, which became the book. He writes:
Americans have a deeply conflicted, self-canceling identity. We’re at war with ourselves. And this explains, I think, why we so often march off to war against others
as horrific as foreign wars are, they are much easier for us at home than it would be to face the internal battles of being at war within ourselves.