9781439571453

The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society

Schlesinger, Arthur Meier

ISBN 10: 1439571457 / 1-4395-7145-7
ISBN 13: 9781439571453

Publication Date: 2008

Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:

The bestseller that reminded us what it means to be an American is more timely than ever in this updated and enlarged edition, including "Schlesinger's Syllabus," an annotated reading list of core books on the American experience.

The classic image of the American nation — a melting pot in which differences of race, wealth, religion, and nationality are submerged in democracy — is being replaced by an orthodoxy that celebrates difference and abandons assimilation. While this upsurge in ethnic awareness has had many healthy consequences in a nation shamed by a history of prejudice, the cult of ethnicity, if pressed too far, threatens to fragment American society to a dangerous degree. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner in history and adviser to the Kennedy and other administrations, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., is uniquely positioned to wave the caution flag in the race to a politics of identity. Using a broader canvas in this updated and expanded edition, he examines the international dimension and the lessons of one polyglot country after another tearing itself apart or on the brink of doing so: among them the former Yugoslavia, Nigeria, even Canada. Closer to home, he finds troubling new evidence that multiculturalism gone awry here in the United States threatens to do the same. "One of the most devastating and articulate attacks on multiculturalism yet to appear."— Wall Street Journal "A brilliant book . . . we owe Arthur Schlesinger a great debt of gratitude."—C. Vann Woodward, New Republic

Review:
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

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