The Cracked Bell
America and the Afflictions of Liberty
The twin concepts of liberty and the free market have been instrumental in shaping American identity. Here, author Tristram Riley-Smith delves into how the perverting of these concepts has led to today’s economic crisis and identity crisis for America.
Including President Obama’s election and initial stimulus package, Riley-Smith takes us on a whirlwind examination of America. For three years, he served in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. and traveled through-out the country and this outsider’s perspective offers an in-depth look at the state of American culture after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, toxic debts, and the credit crunch. With lively, insightful commentary, careful research, and illuminating personal anecdotes, Riley-Smith uses images like the cracked liberty bell to explain just where things went wrong, and how we can make them right. He touches upon big issues and examines America’s consumer culture, using recognizable icons like Martha Stewart, Giorgio Armani, artist Barbara Kruger, and Wal-Mart.
The Cracked Bell is a timely, accessible exploration of the current finan-cial crisis and a hard look at the America of the twenty-first century. It’s a delightful, thoughtful, and necessary book that takes the reader headlong into the philosophies, icons, and institutions responsible for America’s troubles and what can be done about them.
Tristram Riley-Smith worked as a journalist before going to Cambridge University, where he completed a PhD in social anthropology. In 2002, he took up a three-year posting to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and has spent much of the first decade of the twenty-first century gathering and analyzing material for The Cracked Bell. He has lectured on the anthropology of art at the Smithsonian Institution and contributed to A Dictionary of Classical Reference in English Poetry, Travellers' Dictionary of Quotations and Macmillan's Encyclopaedia of Art. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the British-American Pilgrims Society. He is married with three sons.