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694 Rhetoric & Public Affairs toward the social, the intersubjective, the transactional. And it is this interest in humanness that lifts him out of mere criticism into a theory based in the reader and the reader's world" (164). Burke is "pragmatic but not a pragmatist, secular, but not wholly a secular critic, postmodernistic, but not totally a postmodernist" (164). An argument that runs throughout the volume is that the strength of Burke's system is its openness and ambiguity. Burke's theory eludes easy classification. His theory moves in one direction and then suddenly turns course and moves back against itself. This allows his ideas to escape the trap of deconstruction that faces the postmodernists. Burke's critics can stretch and extend his thought in ways that he never imagined while still remaining true to the spirit in which Burke intended his ideas. It is this openness that draws many critics to Burke's theory and will continue to do so. Brock and his colleagues prove their initial argument that Burke's system not only anticipated much of postmodernism, but that his system will continue to be useful for critics in the next century. If nothing else, the essayists prompt critics to think about new ways of using Burke. In short, Kenneth Burke and the 21st Century will do doubt prove to be an important reference for rhetorical critics, Burkean and non-Burkean alike, as rhetorical theory enters the next century. Timothy A. Borchers Moorhead State University Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America. By Richard Rorty. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1998; pp. 159. $18.95. Only a small number of professors achieve international renown. Fewer still become presidential advisors. Perhaps then it is not surprising that Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country, an amended collection of three lectures and two essays, has been deemed sufficiently newsworthy to be reviewed (favorably) in major news sources such as the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and the New York Times (three times), as well as local venues such as The Buffalo News. These reviews are anecdotal evidence that Richard Rorty is one of a precious few academics who can legitimately lay claim to the title of pubhc intellectual. In Achieving Our Country, Rorty assumes the ambitious task of placing himself in the vanguard of a to-be-revived "reformist Left" (1945-1964) that he says is needed to compete for political leadership in the polity. "Competition for political leadership is in part a competition between differing stories about a nation's selfidentity , and between differing symbols of its greatness"(4), Rorty says. And it is his worry, shared, I suspect, by many left-liberals, that since the war in Vietnam the reformist Left has been eclipsed in the debate over our nation's self-identity. Rorty's contention is that the Right and the New Left (the post-1964 Left) "collaborated " to make "cultural issues central to public debate," (14) and that this Book Reviews 695 collaboration produced a shift away from economic and practical political issues, thus eclipsing the reformist Left. Achieving Our Country is then a manifesto for restoring the intellectual place of the reformist Left and therefore concerns over economic (and secondarily social) justice in the nation's consciousness. But Achieving Our Country is more than a public manifesto. It should also be read in light of Rorty's remark that Nobody knows what it would be like to try to be objective when attempting to decide what one's country really is, what its history really means, any more than when answering the question of who one really is oneself, what one's individual past really adds up to. We raise questions about our individual or national identity as part of the process of deciding what we will do next, what we will try to become. (11) In part this remark only repeats Rorty's well-known pragmatist opposition to academic conceptions of objectivity, theory, and metaphysics as politically irrelevant . But its reference to the conjunction between individual and national identity foreshadows Rorty's story about his own intellectual and political identity and his pride in "American citizenship as an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5238
Print ISSN
1094-8392
Pages
pp. 694-698
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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