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A Modern-Day Pilgrim From the 'Land of No'


Sometimes we forget what we should be thankful for. This is a very good Thanksgiving read.

A Modern-Day Pilgrim From the 'Land of No'

On the surface, Roya Hakakian doesn’t have much in common with Alexis de Tocqueville. Him: French. Her: Iranian. Him: Catholic. Her: Jewish. Him: an aristocrat. Her: the daughter of refugees who fled political oppression in Iran during the peak of the Iran-Iraq war.
But Tocqueville, whom Roya mentions in her essay below, illuminated for native-born Americans what was special about their democracy. And that is just what Roya Hakakian—in her moving new book, “A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious”—does, too, nearly two centuries later. It is, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “a love letter to America” but one “written by an exacting lover who isn’t blind to this country’s flaws.” Some of America’s sharpest observers are foreign born. My friend Roya Hakakian is among them.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and my family tries to take time between inhaling stuffing to think about our blessings and the great good luck of being American. My dad always prints a few pieces for us to read; I’ll be bringing Roya’s this year. Below her essay are some others we recommend.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. — BW


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