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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Why I Left America
Arnone, an American ex-pat resident in Yasothon, is well known to anyone who
reads The Nation newspaper, being one of the more prolific letter writers.
John, it seems, is never short of an opinion or three, so it was with much
interest that I opened his self-published book “Why I left America” (ISBN
978-974-7216-66-0, released July 2007).
It does not take many pages before you understand that author Arnone is
standing politically somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan. And it is also
obvious that there is much pent-up emotion. By page four he admits that
“chapters of my writing contain a lot of anger”. And then some!
John Arnone is certainly not without an opinion, be that marriage,
bureaucracy, families, movies, sports, Bill Clinton, O.J. Simpson or
Princess Diana. He certainly does not espouse land rights for gay black
whales! By page 174 he is describing himself appearing as a racist
homophobic misogynist! However, he does explain that whilst holding
opinions, he does not pretend to be offering proof. Nor does he offer any
solutions. But what he has done is state quite categorically just why he
Where the book loses some of its impact for me, is in the updates to 2007
that are interspersed with his original writings which were done in 1998.
Here he tries to show how life is for him now, happily married, children,
living up-country. These aspects of his life pertain to today, and not
really “why I left America”. He also manages to wind himself up with his
anti-anti-smoking campaigns. That he wishes to be a smoker is his decision,
and the readers should not be punished for it. Even if the Thai government
owns the Thai Tobacco Monopoly.
At only 175 pages, it is not a huge tome, but at B. 325 is not a huge impost
either. Much of the details of life in America that he disliked so much can
also be applied to the UK, Europe and Australia, so many ex-pats will relate
to the book, but he does tend towards right wing rants, much in the mold of
firebrand British politician Enoch Powell or equally vociferous Australian
politician Pauline Hansen, neither of whom actually managed to change their
respective societies. And so it will be for John Arnone, I fear.
In one chapter he mentions the perceptive (and very right wing) writer Ayn
Rand, and that came as no surprise, looking at John Arnone’s starboard
inclination as well. And what did happen in Atlas Shrugged? The principal
characters ran away from their respective cultures and attempted to make a
new one in their own valley. The final chapter has one of the characters,
John Galt, saying “We are on strike. This is the strike of the men of the
mind, Miss Taggart... We are on strike against those who believe that one
man must exist for the sake of another…”
John Arnone has not only gone on strike, he has stricken out at his past and
the society that raised him. But unlike Atlas Shrugged, John Arnone will not
be the catalyst for its destruction.
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