Americans cherish their national myths, some of which predate the country’s founding. But the time for illusions, nostalgia, and grand ambition abroad has gone by, according to journalist Patrick Smith in his new book, Time No Longer.
He says Americans are now faced with a choice between a mythical idea of themselves, their nation, and their global “mission,” on the one hand, and on the other an idea of America that is rooted in historical consciousness.
In four essays, Smith discusses America’s unusual (and dysfunctional) relation with history; the Spanish-American War and the roots of American imperial ambition; the Cold War years and the effects of fear and power on the American psyche; and the uneasy years from 9/11 to the present.
Patrick Smith was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992, when he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and contributes frequently to the The New York Times, Business Week, Time, and other publications.