Booking Through Thursday: Patriotism

Booking Through Thursday: Patriotism

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading. Here is this week’s question:

So, Fourth of July here in the USA … Do you ever read books that could be considered patriotic? Rousing stories of heroes? History? Brave countrymen & women doing bold things?

What would you recommend if somebody asked you for something patriotic–no matter what your country? Be as specific or as general as you like.

I’m an Australian not an American and one thing that many of us struggle with is how to express our patriotism. It ranges from red-neck 100% Aussie Pride to self-deprecating humour. Sport is one of the few arenas that many are comfortable with demonstrating our national pride. A highly stereotypical view would be that as long as we can defeat the Kiwis or the Brits at footy and cricket, we know we’re doing okay.

American novels of all different genres tend to celebrate the greatness that is America and it fascinates me, providing it doesn’t get too jingoistic. I love my country but that is something that is within and is not exactly shouted from the rooftops. I lived in America for six months back when I was nine and we had to stand, put our hands over our hearts and sing the national anthem every morning. Those of us who were international students were allowed to substitute the American anthem for our own. It was great that the school was doing all it could to instil national pride at a young age but it was an alien experience.

Lots of romantic suspense authors such as Cindy Gerard, Catherine Mann, Julie Ann Walker etc feature Americans saving the world and falling in love along the way. There is a clear correlation between their citizenship and their desire to do good.  Often they take down villains that regular non-Americans wouldn’t have a hope of defeating. Ex-soldiers also pop up in quite a few contemporary romances. In Anything But Sweet, which I just reviewed, we have characters expressing their gratitude for the sacrifices soldiers make.

Not all patriotic novels need to feature military heroes. One of my absolute favourite texts is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I think this qualifies as patriotic as Atticus does everything in his power to save Tom even though the situation is futile. The fact the jury took a long time (by their standards) to find Tom guilty shows that one man can make a difference (the great American Dream). It was written during the civil rights movement and helped show a nation that reforms were needed.


11 responses to “Booking Through Thursday: Patriotism

  1. I think my favourite bit is when Atticus says “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

  2. This is interesting – in Iceland one of the ways in which it is considered okay to express patriotism is in sports. The national handball and football teams are “our girls” and “our boys” and we are extremely proud of any Icelanders who do good in any international sports competition. It went so far that the Icelandic men’s handball team that won the silver in the 2008 Olympics were given a heroic welcome home and decorated with the Order of the Falcon, the country’s national order of merit.

    • That’s pretty hard core. We don’t go that far as we seem to expect them to win but if our sporting teams lose then they are castigated for it.

  3. I’ve never thought about TKAM as a patriotic novel. It’s definitely an important part of Americana, though. That’s unusual because it clearly represents the deep South, which is just a stereotype of what the U.S. is like. I lived in Europe when I was younger, and I almost threw my breakfast off the table when a children’s morning show depicted the U.S. as one giant cornfield full of cowboys!

    • I’m afraid I used to play up to cultural stereotypes a little bit when I briefly went to elementary school in the US. I had the kids in my class believing that kangaroos used to jump down Main Street. Looking back on it now I was a pretty bratty 10 year old but at the time it seemed hilarious. The joke was on me though as it actually happened in the last town I lived in. It just took 20 years to come true.

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