Publishers Weekly criticized this book The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of War for not truly exploring the meanings behind Jefferson's famous phrase from the Declaration of Independence that lists among the rights of all people the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." To be fair to Cannon, he does explore that and both explicitly and implicitly tells the reader that the genius of the phrase is that it is so hard to define. It can be used by people from all over the political landscape to define their goals and they are all using it correctly (I think he does this rather brilliantly in the chapter concerning anti-war protesters vs. George W. Bush.)
The Publishers Weekly review correctly points out that Cannon's focus is, at times, lacking. However, the text is still informative and well-written. I would compare it to a pleasant conversation that strays a bit from its original focus but eventually does return.
|Franklin, Adams & Jefferson |
editing the Declaration
His quotes from leaders of nations that were once part of the Soviet Bloc and are now part of the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq are so concise and insightful that I was struck dumbfounded in many ways.
On a pet peeve note, Cannon has lots of endnotes - many with excellent additional commentary. I wish his publisher had seen fit to make them footnotes so that I would not have had to keep two bookmarks in the book and continually have to flip back and forth.
I rated this book 5 stars out of 5.
Reviewed on September 22, 2004.