The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society / Edition 2by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Pub. Date: 09/28/1998
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
The classic image of the American nation a melting pot in which differences of race, wealth, religion, and
The New York Times bestseller that reminded us what it means to be an American is more timely than ever in this updated and enlarged edition, including "Schlesinger's Syllabus," an annotated reading list of core books on the American experience.
The classic image of the American nation a melting pot in which differences of race, wealth, religion, and nationality are submerged in democracy is being replaced by an orthodoxy that celebrates difference and abandons assimilation. While this upsurge in ethnic awareness has had many healthy consequences in a nation shamed by a history of prejudice, the cult of ethnicity, if pressed too far, threatens to fragment American society to a dangerous degree. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner in history and adviser to the Kennedy and other administrations, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., is uniquely positioned to wave the caution flag in the race to a politics of identity. Using a broader canvas in this updated and expanded edition, he examines the international dimension and the lessons of one polyglot country after another tearing itself apart or on the brink of doing so: among them the former Yugoslavia, Nigeria, even Canada. Closer to home, he finds troubling new evidence that multiculturalism gone awry here in the United States threatens to do the same. "One of the most devastating and articulate attacks on multiculturalism yet to appear."Wall Street Journal "A brilliant book . . . we owe Arthur Schlesinger a great debt of gratitude."C. Vann Woodward, New Republic
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- Revised and Enlarged Edition
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- 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)
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Arthur Schlesinger, one of America's foremost historians, asks the penetrating questions that need to be asked about multiculturalism. Most people who posit 'political correctness' and multiculturalism, don't seem to think through the consequences. Schlesinger has the long view, and asks the right questions, and reveals what the true consequences will be. For example, he shows that there is no link between children reading positive things about their 'group' and having their self-esteem boosted (Italian kids don't feel better about themselves after reading that the Romans ruled the world). Multiculturalism, instead of being inclusive, actually shuts minorities out. It wants to enclose us all in our group 'boxes', so that, for example, blacks should read about blacks, whites about whites. This sounds like a white racist agenda, but it often comes from the multiculturalists. The multi-culti agenda often backfires, resulting in more isolation for minorities. Hispanic bilingualism actually tends to shut out Hispanic kids from mainstream life in America. But, as the author shows, English will not go away. In Shakespeare's day, 4 million people spoke English, now it is 1.5 billion. The ultimate question for America is this: are we going to be a nation unified by a single culture, history, and creed, or a Balkanized country of groups. Schlesinger shines much needed light on this often murky issue.
Frighteningly prescient and more relevant than ever. Alas, Dr. Schlesinger (RIP) was overly optimistic in his prediction that rational heads would eventually prevail over PC and multicultural anti-Americanism.
This is a brilliant essay on multiculturalism. Schlesinger points out that "a common language is a necessary bond of national cohesion." So we should do everything possible to ensure that those who live here in Britain can speak English. We need to have a common culture, in our single society, of one nation. We should defend British working class culture, which is the positive aspect of our country's history, while rejecting the bourgeoisie's imperial, reactionary culture. Schlesinger writes, "Belief in one's own culture does not require disdain for other cultures." This is like self-respect - respecting oneself does not mean disrespect for other people.
I used this book for my book club. The meeting was in Febuary 2009. I had first read it in college. It was a good starting place for a three hour discussion of the possible sea changes we maybe approaching. I wish it and I had a little more in depth historical background but it worked great as a kick off point for our discussion.
This is an unblinkered look at multiculturalism for people who want to figure out where the beef is. Schlesinger's answer? What little's there is hiding under a pickle. While he wouldn't say it this way, what Schlesinger gets across is this: Multiculturalism is a misnomer. There's no such thing. Culture is just whatever happens to be. What America has right now is a multi-ethnic culture with two genders. Big surprise. Another big surprise: When people of any ethnicity or either gender assert what multi-culturalists like to call the dominant culture's values -- meaning, when they assert their rights -- it works. Get the idea? Even though we should admit that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence from a position that was insular by comparison with ours...the fact is that the ideas contained in the Declaration of Independence represent all people. The ideas live. They work. They're...dare I say it...RIGHT.