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One Nation, Two Cultures explores the place of religion, family, and the law in American life, and maintains that although there are many legitimate grievances against government, we cannot afford to delegitimize it. Proposing democratic remedies for the moral and cultural disorders of democratic society, Himmelfarb concludes that it is a tribute to Americans that we remain "one nation" even as we are divided into "two cultures."
Ideas, however, are not alone adequate explanations of large historical processes. They are themselves products of social and cultural conditions. And they affect society within boundaries created by those conditions. Whether or not one likes the cultural transformations that have gripped American life in the past forty years, it is impossible to understand them without a much larger interpretative framework then Gertrude Himmelfarb provides in the intelligent, provocative but, in the end, historically short-sighted book.
—The (London) Times Literary Supplement
|Ch. I||A Historical Prologue: the "Vices of Levity" and the "Diseases of Democracy"||3|
|Ch. II||Civil Society: "The Seedbeds of Virtue"||30|
|Ch. III||The Family: "A Miniature Social System"||45|
|Ch. IV||The Law and Polity: "Legislating Morality"||59|
|Ch. V||Religion: "The First of Their Political Institutions"||85|
|Ch. VI||The Two Cultures: "An Ethics Gap"||116|
|Epilogue: Some Modest Predictions||142|