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America is a nation based on an idea. For nearly four centuries, Americans have shared the conviction that a perfect world is within reach. Running through our history is the presumption that we can have it all.
In A Visionary Nation, Zachary Karabell shows how this utopian impulse forms a continuous thread in the tapestry of the American experience and represents who we really are. In this penetrating volume, he brings the core of American history to life by examining its successive stages, each promising utopia and none delivering it. Karabell reveals that during every stage, there have been men and women who strove to transform the world. These are the visionaries who have defined American culture. Part history, part essay, part prediction, this profoundly original work tells the stories of visionaries past and present, from Anne Hutchinson to FDR, Alexander Hamilton to Bill Gates. It shows that if our history has proven one thing, it is that no era lasts forever. In striving for the ideal, we have achieved much, but never have realized our dreams of spiritual fulfillment and material prosperity. And so we are chronically plagued by disappointment that we have not achieved everything.
Along with this distinctive view of American history, Karabell offers his own vision of where our nation is heading. Just as the Puritan vision of a City on a Hill was supplanted by the Founding Fathers' vision of individuality, and just as the expansive vision of a government-led Great Society was eclipsed by the New Economy in the 1990s, so too will the New Economy be replaced in our near future by a period when community and spirituality will occupy center stage. Provocative, intelligent, and deeply engaging, A Visionary Nation provides a framework for understanding America's past while preparing us for the next phase of the nation's growth.
Review: By writing A Visionary Nation, Zachary Karabell has moved from the modestly narrow to the breathtakingly broad. His previous book, The Last Campaign, focused on the 1948 presidential election; this new one offers a grand, unified theory of all American history. Karabell proposes that the United States has experienced five complete historical cycles, all of them linked by varying forms of utopian dreaming. "Running through the currents of our history is a presumption that it is possible to have it all. And not just that a few people can have it all, but that all of us can have it all." The current manifestation of this pattern--the sixth cycle--is the New Economy of technological transformation, and it won't last forever. It will pass away like all the other cycles before it, from the Puritan vision for a City on a Hill (the first cycle) to the New Deal and Great Society eras of government activism in the 20th century (the fifth cycle). "Heady images of a perfect future quickly turn to dark pictures of a society going down the drain," writes Karabell. "A new stage forms, and the pattern begins again."
This is, to say the least, an ambitious thesis--and yet Karabell is a good enough writer to make it worthwhile for history buffs intrigued by his notion, even if they are not ready to endorse it. (In many ways, A Visionary Nation is a competent history of what America thinks of itself.) The book takes an interesting turn toward speculation when Karabell proposes his own vision for what the inevitably forthcoming seventh cycle will hold: "The utopian vision of connectedness will dream of a society in which people focus on their own emotional growth with the same fervor, sophistication, and intensity that they now focus on enhancing the New Economy." In fundamental ways, the spirituality and communitarianism Karabell foresees in the seventh stage will be a direct response to the materialism he sees in the sixth one. If this all sounds zany, don't bother with A Visionary Nation. But readers attracted to this idea--plus fans of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s The Cycles of American History and William Strauss and Neil Howe's Generations--ought to find it fascinating. --John Miller
Title: A Visionary Nation: Four Centuries of ...
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Used: Good
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Minimal damage to cover and binding. Pages show light use. Bookseller Inventory # G0380978571I3N00
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Cover Missing. Book has a small amount of wear visible on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0380978571I3N01
Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: GOOD. book was well loved but cared for. Possible ex-library copy with all the usual markings and stickers. Some light textual notes, highlighting and underling. Bookseller Inventory # 2800119705
Book Description Harper. Book Condition: Very Good. . Very Good dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # S08G-00670
Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. 0380978571 Like New, ships out the next day. Bookseller Inventory # Z0380978571Z1
Book Description HarperCollins, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First Edition. Bookseller Inventory # 30398
Book Description Harper. Book Condition: Very Good. Hardcover w / dustjacket. Near Fine condition; edges, corners, and covers of book show very minor wear. No underlining; no highlighting; no internal markings. No pricing stickers. No remainder mark. Dust Jacket is near fine. Stored in sealed plastic protection. In the event of a problem we guarantee full refund. 2001. Hardcover w / dustjacket. Bookseller Inventory # 807731
Book Description Harper, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used: Like New. Publisher overstock has a small ink remainder mark on bottom outside edge of this new unread hardback bookPublisher overstock may have small ink remainder mark on bottom outside edge of this new unread hardback bookPublisher overstock may have small ink remainder mark on bottom outside edge of this new unread hardback bookPublisher overstock may have small ink remainder mark on bottom outside edge of this new unread hardback bookPublisher overstock may have small ink remainder mark on bottom outside edge of this new unread hardback book. Bookseller Inventory # MR9F479
Book Description HarperCollins Publisher, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. 1st Edition. G/G, hc, 246 pp. Red paper over boards with blue paper and gilt text on spine. Color illustrated dust jacket with black and red colored text on upper; slight edge wear; no chips or tears; not price clipped. Interior pages clean, unmarked; pgs. 53/54 diagonally creased. Black remainder mark on tail fore edge. Binding is tight. Bookseller Inventory # 015232
Book Description Harper, New York, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. 0380978571 2001 Harpercollins, 1st edition, 1st Print. Condition: Fine, Dust Jacket: Near Fine. Crisp, clean and unmarked interior. Jacket is glossy, but top of edge is a little curled. Bookseller's Inventory #USHD02. Bookseller Inventory # USHD02