Podhoretz brilliantly recreates his experience growing up in a Jewish immigrant family in a working class neighborhood of Brooklyn during the Depression. He sang Catholic hymns in a public school run by Irish spinsters and played and fought with black and Italian classmates after school let out and later served in the army with them in Occupied Germany. He stepped into the world of ideas at Columbia University and began to acquire lifelong friends and enemies as he began the journey that would make him one of this country’s best known controversialists.
But if My Love Affair with America succeeds brilliantly as autobiography, it is more than the poignant recovery of lost time. Podhoretz uses his experience to launch a strong defense of America and American values at a time when he fears that they are in jeopardy. The gratitude Podhoretz feels for the United States is beyond ideology, a challenge to the political Right as well as the Left.