The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

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From public radio This American Life contributor and self-described “history nerd” Sarah Vowell comes a collection of humorous and personal essays investigating American history, pop culture and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In this insightful and funny collection of personal stories Vowell travels through the American past and in doing so ponders a number of curious questions: Why is she happiest when visiting the sites of bloody struggles like Salem or Gettysburg? Why do people always inappropriately compare themselves to Rosa Parks? Why is a bad life in sunny California so much worse than a bad life anywhere else? What is it about the Zen of foul shots? And, in the title piece, why must doubt and internal arguments haunt the sleepless nights of the true patriot?

Her essays confront a wide range of subjects, themes, icons, and historical moments: Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Tom Cruise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address, the State of the Union, and George W. Bush's inauguration.

The result is a teeming and engrossing book, capturing Vowell's memorable wit and her keen social commentary.

About Sarah Vowell

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Sarah Vowell is the author of the bestselling Assassination Vacation, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Take the Cannoli, and Radio On. She is a contributing editor for public radio’s This American Life. She is also a McSweeney’s person and the voice of teenage superhero Violet Parr in Pixar Animation Studios’ The Incredibles.
Published September 5, 2002 by Simon & Schuster. 228 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Addressing topics that range from the optimal designs of presidential libraries past and future (she advises Clinton to take a page from Nixon, whose library squarely confronts Watergate) to our tendency to make light of serious history (at Salem, she purchases a shot glass emblazoned with “Witch...

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Publishers Weekly

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Few narrators could sound complimentary when calling Al Gore a "big honking nerd," but Vowell (Take the Cannoli ), a self-proclaimed nerd, succeeds in doing just that while reading her collection of thoughtful, humorous essays on politics, patriotism and Tom Cruise (among other topics).

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Publishers Weekly

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Looking for insight into why she prefers Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to Martha's Vineyard, Vowell (author of the witty Take the Cannoli) calls her friend Kate, who works as a counselor for survivors of torture, who says, "That's how we try to make sense of the worst horrors.

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AV Club

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Humorist and This American Life fixture Sarah Vowell tackles the intertwined worlds of politics, popular culture, and her own life with a compulsively readable blend of wit, candor, and heart.

Aug 30 2002 | Read Full Review of The Partly Cloudy Patriot

Entertainment Weekly

Originally posted Sep 27, 2002 Published in issue #674 Sep 27, 2002 Order article reprints

Sep 27 2002 | Read Full Review of The Partly Cloudy Patriot


I have never described myself as a patriot because it feels like such a loaded word, it feels like it’s been appropriated by people who think they represent the true America and I don’t agree with their views, and I don’t have an uncritical view of our country and its past.

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