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July 4th

The Author Speaks

The No. 1 Thing to Love About America: The Dream

                        • Photo exhibit: "The Americans"
                        • Find a patriotic destination

Increasingly, food is seizing a bigger slice of the American-dream pie, so to speak. Think about all the famous chefs, TV personalities, restaurant owners, recipe-book writers and all their kindred spirits who are aiming to take their place in the constellation of culinary achievers. We claim a perch in that space in enumerating scores of American delectables, from “Sweet Potatoes: AKA yams” to “Corn on the Cob: Dream food that dribbles,” in our book.

Dreams don’t have to be visions of celebrity. They can be as simple as wanderlust, a longing that untold millions of over-50 folk are fulfilling every year. You can think of our book as a guide to the God-given and man-made wonders of our land because it ranks the must-visits, from “Redwoods: Seeing is disbelieving” to “The Outer Banks: The Wright stuff.”

Naturally, we hope to trigger debate and even controversy in our choices. We’ve profiled animals from dogs to the bald eagle, clothing from blue jeans to cowboy boots, geographic locations from New York City to Hawaii, cultural treasures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan to small-town orchestras (“Giving Bach to the community”) and manifestations of our economic vitality from Wall Street to family farms. We’ve taken a shot at rating America’s greatest engineering marvels, most valuable natural resources, best companies, most alluring national traits, grandest achievements, most meaningful holidays, top hotels and restaurants and on and on.

Here’s the rub: Singing praises to 1,000 things to love about America excludes the other 1 million or so. We’re confident we’ll hear from many of you about how we goofed. Thanks in advance; your indignation will be grist for a follow-up book, the next episode of our American dream.

A former reporter and editor at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Brent Bowers writes for the Times and is the author of several books.

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