Absolutely American

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Absolutely American
Absolutely-American.jpg
First edition
AuthorDavid Lipsky
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
PublisherHoughton Mifflin
Publication date
July 4, 2003
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages384
ISBN1-4000-7693-5

Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point is a 2003 book by American author David Lipsky. It was placed on several top book lists, including Amazon's Best Books of the Year (2003).[1] The work became a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times bestseller.[2]

Summary[edit]

The book recounts four years in the lives of students at the United States Military Academy.

Excerpts[edit]

Portions of Absolutely American were published in Rolling Stone magazine[3][4][5][6] and were broadcast on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.[7] An audio excerpt aired on This American Life.[8]

Plot[edit]

The book's genesis was a piece Lipsky wrote for Rolling Stone[9]—the longest article published in that magazine since Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The book follows cadets in one West Point company, G-4, from their arrival to graduation. As Newsweek noted, composition of the book required "14,000 pages of interview transcripts, 60 notebooks and four pairs of boots."[10] As The New York Times wrote, Lipsky was not initially well disposed toward the military: "He was, like most young people, entirely cut off from military life. The Army was the one profession his father absolutely refused to let him consider."[9]

Reception[edit]

External video
video icon Booknotes interview with Lipsky on Absolutely American, August 17, 2003, C-SPAN

Absolutely American received general acclaim from book critics. In Time, novelist and critic Lev Grossman wrote that it was "fascinating, funny, and tremendously well-written. Take a good look: this is the face America turns to most of the world, and until now it's one that most of us have never seen. A mesmerizing and powerfully human spectacle."[11] Newsweek called the book "addictive". In a front-cover review in The New York Times Book Review,[12] David Brooks called the book "wonderfully told", praising it as both "a superb description of modern military culture, and one of the most gripping accounts of university life I have read."[13] Within a few weeks of publication, the work had sold out of most American distributors. As Sara Nelson reported in the New York Observer,

It's every author's dream: You write a book that everybody loves. It gets fabulous reviews—one of them on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. You appear on the Today show and on C-Span and you tape Charlie Rose. There's even interest from Hollywood—and you fly out to take some meetings. There's only one problem: There are precious few copies of your book to be found in the bookstores—and if someone wants one, they're going to have to wait, sometimes as long as three weeks. That's exactly the situation author David Lipsky found himself in last week.[14]

The work was a New York Times bestseller,[15] New York Times Notable Book,[16] Amazon Best Book of the Year,[1] Time magazine Best Book of the Year,[17] and was selected as required reading for the incoming class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[18] Film and television rights were acquired by Disney.[19]

Awards and honors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Best Books of 2003: Top 50 Editors' Favorites". Amazon.com. Archived from the original on August 14, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  2. ^ "Best Sellers: July 27, 2003". The New York Times. July 27, 2003. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  3. ^ Lipsky, David (November 25, 1999). "The Theory and Practice of Huah". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Lipsky, David (November 25, 1999). "The Changes". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  5. ^ Lipsky, David (December 16, 1999). "West Point's Burden". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  6. ^ Lipsky, David (December 16, 1999). "West Point: Two Covenants". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  7. ^ "David Lipsky on Honor, Character, Duty and Country". NPR. September 21, 2004. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Hard Life at the Top". This American Life. July 11, 2003. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Brooks, David, "Huah!" The New York Times Book Review, July 13, 2003.
  10. ^ Gegax, Trent, "Getting The Point", Newsweek, July 7, 2003.
  11. ^ Grossman, Lev (July 6, 2003). "Life On The Long Gray Line". Time. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  12. ^ "'Absolutely American': Culture War at West Point". The New York Times Book Review, July 13, 2003. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Brooks, David (July 13, 2003). "Huah!". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  14. ^ Nelson, Sara (August 13, 2003). "Hollywood's Calling But Bookstore Shelves Are Bare". New York Observer. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  15. ^ "Best Sellers: July 27, 2003". New York Times. July 27, 2003. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  16. ^ "Notable Books 2003". New York Times. December 7, 2003. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  17. ^ Lacayo, Richard (December 18, 2003). "Top 10 Everything 2003". Time. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  18. ^ Associated Press, "UNC committee picks book about West Point for reading program", February 25, 2004.
  19. ^ Sauriol, Patrick, "ABC Goes West Point", Variety, August 13, 2003.
  20. ^ "Notable Books 2003". New York Times. December 7, 2003. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  21. ^ Grossman, Lev (December 18, 2003). "Top 10 Everything 2003". Time. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  22. ^ Vassiliadis, Kim (May 4, 2017). "UNC-Chapel Hill selects "How Does It Feel To Be A Problem" for 2017 summer reading". UNC. Retrieved January 18, 2021.

Further reading[edit]