Divided We Fall: Gambling with History in the Nineties

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9780393313062: Divided We Fall: Gambling with History in the Nineties
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"One of the most refreshing and accessible investigations of modern American life to come along in years." So says the San Francisco Chronicle of Haynes Johnson's clear-sighted but compassionate Divided We Fall, an eloquent warning that also uncovers myriad reasons for hope.

Over the course of two years, the Washington-based Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist crisscrossed the United States, talking to bankers, gang leaders, schoolteachers, businessmen, farmers―even President Bill Clinton―about the current state of America. The result, a powerful portrait of Americans at a pivotal point in their history, raises tough questions that continue to resonate.

Nationwide, Americans faced the legacy of the Reagan Eighties (disappearing jobs, soaring crime, racial polarization) with immense apprehension and a pervasive skepticism that colored their attitudes about politicians and the political system itself. At the same time, people in all walks of life were eager to take on the challenges of the Nineties. "I do not feel that I have been writing the obituary of the American Dream," writes Johnson in the final chapter of Divided We Fall; "I believe I have been writing about an interlude in the reclaiming of that Dream."

Indeed, with this brilliant document, Johnson urges and inspires us to join together, face the challenge of change, and take the brave gamble to reclaim the American Dream.

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About the Author:

Haynes Johnson is the author of Divided We Fall: Gambling with History in the Nineties. He lives in Washington, DC.

From Kirkus Reviews:

From Pulitzer Prize-winner Johnson (Sleepwalking through History, 1991): a depressing look at America's disintegrating society and the moribund American dream. Johnson traveled throughout the United States for two years, from Maine to California, talking to ordinary people about the direction of American society. Wherever he went, he found people concerned and angry about the same issues: crime; massive, permanent budget deficits; unemployment and underemployment; the declining schools; and the decaying industrial base. Johnson allows people to tell their truly frightening tales: of college graduates and holders of doctorates unable to find any but unskilled employment; of students who fear random violence in the classroom; of wealthy people living in fortresslike dwellings; of crippling cuts in services such as libraries, schools, and policing; and of cities, filled with economic frustration and racial tension, exploding in riotous rage (most spectacularly, in Los Angeles in 1992). Johnson looks at increasing class polarization, the transformation of American society by huge waves of immigration, the threat of environmental disaster, and the attempts of Americans to restore a sense of purpose and value to their lives. He also examines how unresponsive the American political system is to the nation's many crises and how government is too often hamstrung by marginal groups or special interests. On the other hand, Johnson sees a sense of urgency in the Americans he met. Looking back at other crises Americans overcame, he observes that ``America still possesses enormous resources, backed by an energetic, resourceful people.'' Haynes concludes that Americans can address the challenges facing them, however formidable they may be: he does ``not feel that I have been writing the obituary of the American Dream. I believe I have been writing about an interlude in the reclaiming of that Dream.'' A disturbing snapshot of a nation in crisis, with a critical message: If you love your country, take action. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780393036299: Divided We Fall: Gambling With History in the Nineties

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ISBN 10:  0393036294 ISBN 13:  9780393036299
Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc, 1994
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