American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 93%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $26.22   
  • Used (14) from $1.99   


This stunningly persuasive book examines the persistent, radical gap between the promise of American ideals and the performance of American politics. Samuel P. Huntington shows how Americans, throughout their history as a nation, have been united by the democratic creed of liberty, equality, and hostility to authority. At the same time he reveals how, inevitably, these ideals have been perennially frustrated through the institutions and hierarchies required to carry on the essential functions of governing a democratic society.

From this antagonism between the ideals of democracy and the realities of power have risen four great political upheavals in American history. Every third generation, Huntington argues, Americans have tried to reconstruct their institutions to make them more truly reflect deeply rooted national ideals. Moving from the clenched fists and mass demonstrations of the 1960s, to the moral outrage of the Progressive and Jacksonian Eras, back to the creative ideological fervor of the American Revolution, he incisively analyzes the dissenters' objectives.
All, he pungently writes, sought to remove the fundamental disharmony between the reality of government in America and the ideals on which the American nation was founded.

Huntington predicts that the tension between ideals and institutions is likely to increase in this country in the future. And he reminds us that the fate of liberty and democracy abroad is intrinsically linked to the strength of our power in world affairs.

This brilliant and controversial analysis deserves to rank alongside the works of Tocqueville, Bryce, and Hofstadter and will become a classic commentary on the meaning of America.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Professor Huntington has brilliantly set forth the persisting conflict between American ideals and American institutions which can energize our society or paralyze it, depending on whether it is understood for what it is. A liberating insight; a brilliant book.
Austin Ranney
Samuel Huntington is not only a preeminent scholar of modern governing institutions and their underlying ideas, democratic and otherwise; he has also often served as adviser to policymakers in several nations, including our own. His book should be read by everyone who is concerned with the capacity of our institutions to meet the fearful challenges they now face.
Seymour Martin Lipset
This controversial book will spark considerable debate about American values, the origins and meaning of reform, and foreign policy. It will influence current discussions of the United States, and it will change the way we think about American political and social behavior.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674030213
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/4/2004
  • Series: Belknap Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,258,679
  • Product dimensions: 0.71 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel P. Huntington was Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University, and the author of Political Order in Changing Societies.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. The Disharmonic Polity

"Our Practice of Your Principles"

The One, the Two, and the Many:
Structural Paradigms of American Politics

Ideals versus Institutions

2. The American Creed and National Identity

Political Thought in America

Sources, Scope, and Stability of the Creed

Political Ideas and National Identity

3. The Gap: The American Creed versus Political

Authority Consensus and Instability

The Gap in Comparative Perspective

4. Coping with the Gap

The American Case of Cognitive Dissonance

Patterns of Response

The Gap and American Political Style

5. The Politics of Creedal Passion

Creedal Passion Periods in American History

The Climate of Creedal Passion

Creedal Conflict: The Movement and the Establishment

Reform and its Limits

Political Earthquakes and Realignment

6. The Sources of Creedal Passion

Why Creedal Passion Periods?

General Sources: Comparable Phenomena in Other Societies

Specific Sources: The Timing of Creedal Passion Periods

Original Sources: The Roots of It All in the English Revolution

The Protestantism of American Politics

7. The S&S Years, 1960-1975

From the Fifties to the Seventies: The Changing Pattern of Response

Complacency and the End(?) of Ideology

Interlude of Hypocrisy, Surge of Moralism

The Mobilization of Protest

The Dynamics of Exposure

The Legacies

Reform and the IvI Gap

Institutional Realignment

The Misuse and Erosion of Authority

Cynicism and the Restoration of Authority

8. The Viability of American Ideals and Institutions

The Future of the Gap

History versus Progress?

America versus the World?

Power and Liberty: The Myth of American Repression

The Promise of Disappointment



Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)