Blood & Belonging:
Journeys Into the New Nationalism

by Michael Ignatieff,
ISBN: 0374114404

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Brief Reivews - Non-Fiction
by Janice Keefer

THOUGH making important points that post-nationalism is a pipedream, and that we're all capable of defending "our own" by seeking to destroy the "other" -Michael Ignatieff's Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism (Viking Penguin, 189 pages, $25.99 cloth), which includes an essay on the virtues of civic as opposed to ethnic nationalism and his account of six problematic nations, reads like an expanded TV script. Ignatieff's polarizes and oversimplifies issues, relies on anecdote rather than scholarship, and commits irritating inconsistencies. His "Further Reading" section fails to cite his most interesting Sources, lie refers to both "the Ukraine" and "Ukraine" (Ukrainians object to the former term as reinforcing their country's image as a mere province of Russia), and, while he explains Quebecois defensiveness regarding the French language, lie doesn't contextualize Latvias decision to make citizenship dependent on rudimentary knowledge of the Latvian tongue. In none of his guises as citizen of the world -- "Great Russian," down-home Canuck, or self-made Brit -- does Ignatieff's speak in any convincing or deeply insightful way. This is merely one man's overview of countries to whose languages and cultures he remains a stranger, a skeleton key opening only a vestibule -- rather than the complex heart -- of that house in which we must all, somehow, live and let live together.


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