In his book The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory (Metropolitan Books, 2020) and in excerpts and essays from the book that were published in the Sundiata Post and RealClear World, writer Andrew Bacevich assesses American history and the country’s current predicament with a little help from John Updike’s best known alter ego:
“‘Without the Cold War, what’s the point of being an American?’ As the long twilight struggle was finally winding down, Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, novelist John Updike’s late-twentieth-century Everyman, pondered that question. In short order, Rabbit got his answer. So too, after only perfunctory consultation, did his fellow citizens.”
Bacevich’s book takes into account the presidencies of Barack Obama, whom Updike voted for, and Donald Trump, whose rise many feel was predicted by Rabbit’s own evolving attitudes. Bacevich is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University and a former career Army officer.