Arthur Schlesinger Jr asks in this book "What does it mean to be an American?". The classic image of the republic is that of the melting pot where differences of race, wealth, religion and nationality are submerged in democracy. But now there is a new orthodoxy: America as a collection of self-interest groups, celebrating difference and abandoning the idea of assimilation. Now published in paperback, this book addresses multiculturalism and political correctness.
In this updated version of a modern classic, acclaimed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. strikes a blow against radical multiculturalism. The rising cult of ethnicity, he argues, threatens a common American identity, imperiling the civic ideals that traditionally have bonded immigrants into a nation. Various chapters criticize bilingual education, Afrocentrism, and the use of history as group therapy for minorities. Schlesinger raised eyebrows when he first published this book in 1992 because of his impeccable liberal credentials as a one-time assistant to President Kennedy and long-standing academic champion of FDR's New Deal. This new version contains all of the original volume's edge, plus a few extras, including an appendix containing "Schlesinger's Syllabus," 13 books "indispensable to an understanding of America." Titles from this eclectic list include The Federalist Papers, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Mencken's American Language. The Disuniting of America remains an essential book for readers interested in the American character as it enters the 21st century. --John J. Miller