Sarah Vowell on being American

Re-listened to this over the weekend: writer Sarah Vowell’s “Trail of Tears” piece for “This American Life” aired back in 1998, but it’s still so relevant. She retraces the footsteps of her ancestors when they were forced to relocate west of the Mississippi River.

It includes my favorite description of America to date:

Listening to “Back in the USA” while driving the Trail of Tears, I turn it over and over in my head. It’s a good country. It’s a bad country. Good country, bad country. And, of course, it’s both. When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife. Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy he sure can dance.

Author: Kate Stanton

Kate Stanton is a writer and editor living in Melbourne.

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