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An American Dreamer: Life in a Divided Country (Hardcover)
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A man navigates the deep divisions in America today and discovers that sometimes change can start by finding common ground with your neighbors in this immersive account by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thank You for Your Service and The Good Soldiers.
“Finkel’s account is poetic, profound, and irresistibly page-turning.”—Geraldine Brooks, author of Horse
As this powerful book begins, Brent Cummings finds himself coping with the feeling that the country he loves is fracturing in front of his eyes. An Iraq war veteran, raised to believe in a vision of America that values fairness, honesty, and respect for others, Cummings is increasingly surprised by the behavior and beliefs of others, and engulfed by the fear, anger, and confusion that is sweeping through his beloved country as he tries to hold on to his values and his hope for America’s future.
David Finkel, known for his unique, in-depth reporting, spent fourteen years deep inside Brent Cummings’s world to create this intimate and vivid portrait of a man’s life, his work, family, community, his thoughts, and his quest for connection, as America becomes ever more divided. Cummings was one of the unforgettable figures in Finkel’s The Good Soldiers, a book about which The New York Times stated, “Finkel has made art out of a defining moment in history. You will be able to take this book down from the shelf years from now, and say: This is what happened. This is what it felt like.”
An American Dreamer illuminates, with the deepest empathy, the feelings and lives of many people in America today, and it is a brilliant chronicle of one person’s everyday experiences of frustration, confusion, and hope.
About the Author
David Finkel is an editor and writer at The Washington Post. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. A MacArthur Fellowship recipient, he is the author of Thank You for Your Service and The Good Soldiers.
“A keenly observed depiction of a divided country . . . People are complicated. And one of the strengths of this excellent book is how deftly Finkel presents those complications. . . . In this intimate, remarkable book, Finkel lets us inside the worlds of two imperfect men. By doing so, he helps us understand the fragmented reality that is America today.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An intimate look at American lives in fraught times. . . an immersive portrayal of contemporary America, from Election Day 2016 through Election Day 2020, through the eyes of Iraqi war veteran Brent Cummings, his family, and his neighbors in a town in Georgia . . . . a sharply observed depiction of a divided country.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] nuanced account of four years (2016–20) in the life of Iraq War veteran and Georgia resident Brent Cummings . . . The book’s compassionate depictions of Brent, Laura, and Michael are so well-drawn that it reads like a novel, but the profiles are real and empathetic. A beautifully rendered, sensitively told story about a veteran who returns home to a nation where many things are changing or already altered forever.”—Library Journal
“Brilliantly reported and staggeringly important, An American Dreamer delivers a gripping story that is as illuminating and poignant as it is a punch in the gut.”—Beth Macy, New York Times bestselling author of Dopesick
“For anyone hoping to understand what has become of America these past twenty years, An American Dreamer is indispensable.”—Ben Fountain, bestselling author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“In a lovely Atlanta suburb, two neighbors, both decent yet damaged men, find themselves on opposite sides of the fault line in a fracturing America. Finkel’s account is poetic, profound, and irresistibly page turning. It’s The White Album for a new decade of division and dissolution.”—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Horse
“Here Finkel presents immersive, engaging, and incredibly well-written reporting on Cummings’ frank observations about friends, neighbors, and passers-by. Cummings watches Donald Trump stoke and amplify racism and hate, and questions which is the real America. . . . Finkel beautifully captures this contentious moment in our history. Focused in perspective but enormous in impact.”—Booklist
“Drawing on conversations with Cummings and his friends and family, primarily between 2016 and 2021, Finkel finds that the unifying belief among those he interviews—across the political spectrum—is the idea that the country is fracturing. . . . An evocative contribution to the shelf on what ails America in the age of Trump.”—Publishers Weekly