The Day Before Yesterday: Reconsidering America's Past, Rediscovering the Present

Overview

In The Day Before Yesterday, acclaimed journalist Michael Elliott says, "Americans whine. They live in the most prosperous society the world has ever seen. They have a greater level of creature comfort than any nation has ever known before. They enjoy great personal freedom, and their government is systematically constrained in the ways in which it can intervene in their private lives. And yet they are convinced that their life is miserable." But Elliott tells us the "decline" we mourn is measured against the ...

See more details below
Paperback
$19.78
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$21.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $12.66   
  • New (13) from $12.66   
  • Used (3) from $19.77   
Sending request ...

Overview

In The Day Before Yesterday, acclaimed journalist Michael Elliott says, "Americans whine. They live in the most prosperous society the world has ever seen. They have a greater level of creature comfort than any nation has ever known before. They enjoy great personal freedom, and their government is systematically constrained in the ways in which it can intervene in their private lives. And yet they are convinced that their life is miserable." But Elliott tells us the "decline" we mourn is measured against the false standard of the uniquely prosperous years after World War II. The country's severe problems fall into better perspective when we measure them against our longer history. We then see that we have been a nation of problem solvers and can be again.

Americans have assumed for fifty years that the years after World War II were normal, and that any deviation from that standard is alarming. In fact, the boom period following World War II, the Golden Age, was a historical aberration. Although it had its roots in the American past, much of the prosperity came out of the country's unique position in the world of 1945. Of all the nations on the planet, only the United States emerged unscathed from the three decades of war and revolution that had crippled all the other great industrial powers — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan. As a result, in 1945 the U.S. reigned supreme.

Then, between the assassination of JFK and the end of the Cold War in 1989, all the factors that had contributed so much to America's self-image went into reverse. American politics went through a period of murderous instability; the federal government was delegitimized; great divisions grew among races, regions, and classes; a wave of immigration transformed the country's ethnic makeup; and the economy slowed down.

Now the major debate among politicians is how to fix America's decline. Elliott puts that debate in perspective by showing that we're in a natural cycle, not an absolute decline, and reminds us that we won't find the solutions in the shiny model of the Golden Age. Those circumstances will never be repeated. Instead, by looking back to the whole of American history, especially to the period before 1914, Elliott offers explanations and some hopeful answers for our current problems. Then, as now, America was a society of immigrants, messy, ragged at the edges, transfixed by cultural wars and suffering serious social cleavages. America was also home to unprecedented pioneering spirit and extraordinary resourcefulness. America today is still characterized by the same sense of community and entrepreneurial vision that enabled us to overcome our problems a hundred years and more ago and become the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Joseph Nocera Author of A Piece of the Action Rare is the book that genuinely deserves to be called "long overdue," but this is most emphatically true of Michael Elliott's The Day Before Yesterday. At a time when Americans have never seemed more discontented, Elliott is the rare journalist willing to question whether our sour national mood is really justified. The case he builds that it is not — clear-eyed, insightful, and filled with badly needed historical perspective — should make all Americans rethink the commonly held belief that the country is going to hell in a handbasket.

Evan Thomas Author of The Very Best Men With verve and sweep and a very shrewd eye, Michael Elliott tells us why we're doing pretty well — yet feel so bad.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684870458
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 0.73 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Customer Reviews

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

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com 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 & Noble.com 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 & Noble.com 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 BN.com 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

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com 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 BN.com. 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)