The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society

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9780393033809: The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society

What does it mean to be an American? Is the republic a unified whole or a collection of disparate ethnic groups? In this book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, examines the changing face of American history and shows how an increasing focus on ethnicity has affected life both in academic circles and on the street. America has always been a nation of immigrants striving towards the common goal of a better life than they had known in the old country. But the melting pot no longer seems an apt metaphor for the American experience: racial and ethnic minorities are drifting apart, focusing on individual heritage and becoming more bitterly divided. However, Professor Schlesinger ultimately believes that the old ideals of "e pluribus unum" are still strong enough to bind the United States together.

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About the Author:

ARTHUR M. SCHLESINGER, JR. (1917-2007) was a renowned American historian, social critic, and prolific author of numerous books. He was awarded the National Book Award and the National Humanities Medal as well as twice winning the Pulitzer Prize.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A passionate criticism of multiculturalism by the two-time Pulitzer-winner. Schlesinger, a lifelong advocate of human rights, believes that this ``eruption of ethnicity'' has had many good consequences, that the belated recognition of the pluralistic character of American society has had a bracing impact on the teaching and writing of history, and that nothing is more natural than for black Americans to assert pride and claim identity. But cultural pluralism is not the issue, he says--``the issue is the teaching of bad history under whatever ethnic banner.'' When Oregon students learn that Africans visited the Americas before Columbus, or that Pythagoras and Aristotle stole their mathematics and philosophy from black scholars in Egypt, it is not only wrong, the author says, but it is the use of history as therapy. When black educators argue that black minds work in genetically distinctive ways, it is ``just another word for racism.'' The Ku Klux Klan, says Schlesinger, could not devise a curriculum more effective in handicapping and disabling black Americans. Moreover, the author sees the multiculturalism movement as attacking the very fundamentals of American democracy, finding that its underlying philosophy is that ``America is not a nation of individuals at all but a nation of groups, that ethnicity is the defining experience for most Americans.'' Schlesinger is blunt in his rebuttal: ``It may be too bad that dead white European males have played so large a role in shaping our culture. But that is the way it is.'' A refreshing, outspoken treatment of a phenomenon too often clothed in euphemism. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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