American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short

American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short

by Robert Wuthnow
     
 

"The power of America's deep unspoken culture, tied as it is to our dominant institutions, has never been analyzed more profoundly than in Robert Wuthnow's stunning new book American Mythos. Taking a sample of highly successful recent immigrants as his database, he illustrates just how quickly these taken-for-granted assumptions are absorbed. Even more

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Overview

"The power of America's deep unspoken culture, tied as it is to our dominant institutions, has never been analyzed more profoundly than in Robert Wuthnow's stunning new book American Mythos. Taking a sample of highly successful recent immigrants as his database, he illustrates just how quickly these taken-for-granted assumptions are absorbed. Even more important, he shows us how what at one level seems to be a remarkable success story turns out at another level to be the source of deep and unresolved issues that call that success into question. This book should have a wide readership among scholars and laypeople, and indeed anyone concerned with the future of our deeply troubled society."—Robert N. Bellah, coauthor, Habits of the Heart

"This is a truly great book. It makes use of Wuthnow's encyclopedic knowledge to point us to the true culprits in our inability to achieve our societal aspirations."—John H. Evans, University of California, San Diego

"Thoughtful, lucid and accessibly written. Robert Wuthnow has been one of the sanest, most insightful, and most balanced observers of the American scene in the past two decades, and this book is a perfect example. His approach to culture and society is both respectful and critical, always seeking to transcend passing partisan alignments and to reinforce standards of fundamental civility—the enabling virtue without which sound criticism is unlikely to be heard."—Wilfred McClay, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

"Robert Wuthnow is one of the most prolific and thoughtful observers of contemporary American society. In this latest book he raises his sights to encompass much of our history and our culture. What he has to say, especially about the importance of narratives and cultural myths, and about immigrants and religion and ethnicity, merits the attention of all of us who would like America to be a better nation."—Robert Putnam, Harvard University, author of Bowling Alone

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138558
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/14/2008
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1

CHAPTER 1: Deep Culture and Democratic Renewal 12

CHAPTER 2: Quandaries of Individualism 38

CHAPTER 3: The Justice of Privilege 79

CHAPTER 4: Self-Made Men and Women 104

CHAPTER 5: In America,All Religions Are True 128

CHAPTER 6: Ethnic Ties That Bind (Loosely) 163

CHAPTER 7: Saving Ourselves from Materialism 192

CHAPTER 8: Venues for Reflective Democracy 218

Appendix 235

Notes 239

Selected Bibliography 263

Index 277

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