American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center by William Langewiesche

By William Langewiesche

Chosen as the best books of 2002 via The manhattan Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Sun-Times

Within days after September eleven, 2001, William Langewiesche had secured special, unrestricted, round the clock entry to the realm alternate middle web site. American Ground is a travel of this excessive, ephemeral global and people who improvised the restoration attempt day-to-day, and within the technique reinvented themselves, getting to know unknown strengths and weaknesses. In all of its aspects--emotionalism, impulsiveness, opportunism, territoriality, resourcefulness, and basic, cacophonous democracy--Langewiesche finds the unbuilding to be uniquely American and oddly inspiring, a portrait of resilience and ingenuity within the face of catastrophe.

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The revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848, the power struggles between monarchists and republicans of the 1870s, the confrontation over the Dreyfus affair after 1898, the battle between the Popular Front and its opponents in the 1930s, the near-civil war between the Vichy regime, committed to collaboration with the occupying Germans, and the Resistance, even the competition of the 1970s between left-wing and right-wing coalitions, have regularly been presented on either side as fights between good and evil or (with a historical perspective) as illustrations of the perfidy of the opposite camp.

They exist both to minimise potentially damaging competition between individual candidates in the same constituency, and to ensure that the campaigns of selected candidates receive appropriate financial backing. This backing comes from men of property - bankers, landowners, heads of companies; for cadre parties are typically bourgeois parties. They therefore have no real members, in the sense of ordinary citizens who pay a regular subscription and support a certain set of principles; the heart of the cadre party 'organisation' is the constituency committee, composed of sitting parliamentarians, candidates, and their potential financial backers.

Regional and ethnic parties, set up to defend the cultural or linguistic specificities of particular (usually peripheral) regions, whether through a greater degree of regional autonomy or complete independence. Ecologists or Greens, the newest family, committed to environmental conservation but increasingly also to a variety of other causes - 'postmaterial' issues in Inglehart's terms - including environmentalism, civil liberties, the reform of the world economic system to benefit Third World countries, or the defence of the rights of women and minority groups.

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