The American Values Reader / Edition 1

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Constructed around the three broad areas of self-evident truths and unalienable rights identified by our country's founders - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - this thought-provoking collection presents multi-sided ethical and moral conversations through the work of 100 writers and thinkers, past and present. Emphasis is on looking carefully at the selections to uncover their explicit and implicit values, with post-reading questions engaging the reader in thoughtful writing and conversation about the selection and the values it presents. Past and present values are linked, so that every selection becomes relevant to today's culture. In the section on Life, the book offers selections on family, education, work and poverty, and health and health care. The section on Liberty includes works exploring language and speech, law and politics, and rights and beliefs. Wrapping up the book, the Pursuit of Happiness section looks at love, science and technology, wealth and leisure, and individual and community. For anyone interested in exploring the timely topic of values; ideal for book discussion groups.
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Editorial Reviews

Organized into sections on family, education, work and poverty, language and speech, law and politics, rights and beliefs, love, science and technology, wealth and leisure, and individual and community this collection of essays, stories, and poems offer examples of the ideological conflicts that run through American history. Spanning a spectrum of views, the 100 entries feature writers such as Malcolm X, Walt Whitman, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Richard Wright, Lani Guinier, William J. Bennett, Eudora Welty, and Edgar Allan Poe. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205273812
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 12/21/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 776
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Each chapter concludes with "Values in Review."


Introduction: Reading and Writing about Values.


1. Family.

Gregory Curtis, Leave Ozzie and Harriet Alone.

Randall Williams, Daddy Tucked the Blanket.

Ruth Gay, Floors: The Bronx — Then.

David Blankenhorn, The Deadbeat Dad.

E.B. White, Once More to the Lake.

Alice Walker, Everyday Use.

Mel Lazarus, Angry Fathers.

Judith S. Wallerstein and Susan Blakeslee, The Children of Divorce.

Langston Hughes, Mother to Son.

2. Education.

Toni Cade Bambara, The Lesson.

Robert Coles, A Lesson from History: On Courage.

Mike Rose, "I Just Wanna Be Average."

Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams.

Shelby Steele, Indoctrination Isn't Teaching.

Timothy Harper, They Treat Girls Differently, Don't They?

Malcolm X., Prison Studies.

Ellen Tashie Frisina, "See Spot Run": Teaching My Grandmother to Read.

Christina Hoff Sommers, Ethics without Virtue: Moral Education in America.

3. Work and Poverty.

William Branigin, Sweatshops Are Back.

Gary Soto, Looking for Work.

Henry David Thoreau, I Borrowed an Axe and Went Down to the Woods.

Arlie Russell Hochschild, There's No Place Like Work.

Jonathan Kozol, Children and Poverty.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, The Hard Questions: Lost City.

Frank McCourt, When Dad Gets a Job, from Angela'sAshes: A Memoir.

Don J. Snyder, Sorry, the Professional Class Is Full.

Stephanie Coontz, A Nation of Welfare Families.

4. Health and Health Care.

Fred M. Hechinger, They Tortured My Mother.

George Simpson, The War Room at Bellevue.

Paul R. McHugh, The Kevorkian Epidemic.

Eudora Welty, A Visit of Charity.

Suzanne Gordon, What Nurses Stand For.

Burkhard Bilger, TV's Powerful Doctor Shows versus the HMO.

Ann Louise Bardach, The Stealth Virus: AIDS and Latinos, from White Cloud.

Jeffrey Kluger, Can We Stay Young?


5. Language and Speech.

Stephen Birmingham, Telling Them Apart.

Robert D. King, Should English Be the Law?

Chang-rae Lee, Mute in an English-Only World.

Nancy Mairs, Body in Trouble.

Sunil Garg, Under My Skin.

Charles R. Lawrence, III., On Racist Speech.

Carl Sandburg, Primer Lesson.

Deborah Tannen, Women's Conversations.

Barbara Mellix, From Outside, In.

6. Law and Politics.

Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence.

Lani Guinier, The Tyranny of the Majority.

Walt Whitman, For You, O Democracy.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, From Speech to the New York State Legislature, (February 18, 1860).

Edward I. Koch, Death and Justice.

William Joseph Brennan, Jr., What the Constitution Requires.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Gertrude Himmelfarb, Private Lives, Public Morality.

Patricia J. Williams, An Ear for an Ear.

7. Rights and Beliefs.

Michael Norman, The Hollow Man.

Stephen Crane, An Episode of War.

Andre Dubus, Imperiled Men.

Thomas Paine, Profession of Faith.

Theodore Roosevelt, Going to Church.

Jimmy Carter, Prayer and the Civic Religion,

William J. Bennett, Revolt Against God: America's Spiritual Despair.

Peggy Fletcher Stack, Temple Wars: When Values Collide.

Richard Wright, Almos' a Man.

Erica Manfred, I Was a Red-Diaper Baby.


8. Love.

Walter Kirn, My Parents' Bust-Up, and Mine.

Elizabeth Joseph, My Husband's Nine Wives.

Edgar Allen Poe, Annabel Lee.

Ellen Hopkins, Sex Is for Adults.

Barbara Ehrenreich, Playboy Joins the Battle of the Sexes.

John Collier, The Chaser.

Lisa Schiffren, Gay Marriage, an Oxymoron.

Andrew Sullivan, Let Gays Marry.

Philip Lopate, Revisionist Nuptials.

9. Science and Technology.

Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Joseph Priestly.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark.

Stephen Jay Gould, Dolly's Passion and Louis's Passion.

Clifford Stoll, The Internet? Bah!

Jon Katz, Old Media, New Media and a Middle Way.

C.K. Gunsalus, Rethinking Unscientific Attitudes about Scientific Misconduct.

Harold Herzog, Human Morality and Animal Research: Confessions and Quandaries.

Edgar Allan Poe, To Science.

Bill McKibben, The Earth Does a Slow Burn.

10. Wealth and Leisure.

Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth.

William Zinsser, The Road to Timbuktu: Why I Travel.

Mari Evans, When in Rome.

Marcus Mabry, Living in Two Worlds.

Dorothy Parker, The Standard of Living.

Jerome Charyn, Faces on the Wall from Movieland.

Charles McGrath, Giving Saturday Morning Some Slack.

Hank Aaron, When Baseball Mattered.

David Stout, The Sadness of the Hunter.

11. Individual and Community.

James Webb, In Defense of Joe Six-Pack.

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself.

Jules Feiffer, The Minsk Theory of Krypton.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance.

Bret Harte, The Outcasts of Poker Flat.

Marjorie Miller and Richardo Chavira, A Unique Culture Grows in the Desert.

Melissa Healy, Fighting to Fill the Values Gap.

Lucie Prinz, Say Something: They're Only Children.

James Madison, From The Federalist, Number 10.

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