Books: Optimist In a Jaded Age

Jedediah Purdy says America is being corroded by irony. He's here to save us

Jedediah Purdy, 24, may have been born in the 1970s, but he grew up in the 1870s. Home was a hillside West Virginia farm plowed by a team of Percheron draft horses. School was his parents' kitchen, his neighbors' fields. Town was a country crossroads with two stores, and entertainment a new book from the library. And though the young man with the Old Testament name and the Mark Twain upbringing later went on to study at Harvard and Yale, mixing with the privileged and the trend-conscious, his heart remained in the hills, beneath the oaks.

Purdy's mind, however, is another...

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