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A Question of Values Paperback – October 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453722882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453722886
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Morris Berman is well known as an innovative cultural historian and social critic. He has taught at a number of universities in Europe, North America, and Mexico, and has held visiting endowed chairs at Incarnate Word College, the University of New Mexico, and Weber State University. During 1982-88 he was the Lansdowne Professor in the History of Science at the University of Victoria. Berman won the Governor's Writers Award for Washington State in 1990, and the Rollo May Center Grant for Humanistic Studies in 1992. In 2000 "The Twilight of American Culture" was named a "Notable Book" by the New York Times. Other published work includes "The Reenchantment of the World" (1981), "Coming to Our Senses" (1989), "Wandering God: A Study in Nomadic Spirituality" (2000), and "Dark Ages America" (2006).

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Hopefully you will be asking many questions after reading this book.
VINCENT WILYARD
Morris Berman, along with Chris Hedges, is among the very few social critics who urge us to look at our current dilemmas in a different way.
Jeff
A Question of Values is a brilliant, captivating, alternately sobering and inspiring, collection of essays.
Nomi M. Prins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Nomi M. Prins on October 30, 2010
A Question of Values is a brilliant, captivating, alternately sobering and inspiring, collection of essays. Morris Berman delivers harsh, often ignored truths about who we are as a nation, and as individuals - not who we tend to believe we are. In the second essay, conspiracy vs. Conspiracy in American History, in Section I, Lament for America, Berman examines America's profound sense of self-importance in four concise swipes that are the book's core. He has an amazing gift for inter-weaving narrative and analysis, and embedding it into a broad swath of supporting information, from Plato to Obama (with a stop along the way for the show, Seinfeld). In a passionate voice and elegant prose, he leads us to conclude that the only hope for America to be a better nation, is to stop believing its own hype, something he doesn't consider very likely - but isn't self-awareness more empowering than narcissism? From the Wall Street bailouts, to the Iraq War, to China, Berman's lament isn't for an America that's lost its way, but for one whose heart has been replaced by a colossal ego that raids it owns citizens, and other nations, with self-righteous impunity.

The book also provides a rousing guide for how to think more compassionately. In Section II, Mind and Body, Berman examines the question of what really constitutes wealth, and its connection to our mortality. It made me want to reach out and call my parents. Section III, Progress True and False, follows with the extremely relatable essay - How Chic was my Progress? - exploring how being technologically `cool' keeps us socially bankrupt. In Section IV, Quo Vadis? Berman expertly brings us full circle, reminding us that "when Mae Zedong called the United States the paper tiger in the 1950s, everybody laughed.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2010
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Morris Berman is one of our most insightful observers & critics of contemporary American culture -- and also one of the most neglected. Given the state of our culture, that's not only inevitable, but actually a badge of honor. In other words, he refuses to pander to his audience, and insists on laying out the full scope of our cultural emptiness & despair. What he describes isn't pretty, but it's undeniably honest.

And what is he describing?

Well, he approaches our culture in several ways -- politically, psychologically, economically, and (for lack of a better word) spiritually. In fact, the political aspect is really seen as less important than the forces below the surface that drive it. Whether Bush or Obama is in office doesn't matter all that much, since both fiercely uphold the great myths of American exceptionalism & progress, and the true religion of our culture, unlimited consumerism. The result is a world that glitters with electronic toys & gadgets, that flexes enormous military muscles, that floods the globe with pop product of every kind -- all in a desperate attempt to deny its own essential hollowness.

While he provides plenty of studies & statistics to back up his argument, much of it is made even more effectively through anecdotes of daily life, ones that we'll all recognize: the disintegration of civility in so many ways -- the distortion of genuine individuality into a narcissistic mantra of "Me! Me! Me!" -- the ubiquitous cellphones & iPods & SUVs & plasma TVs -- the rampant anti-intellectualism -- the public fascination with "Survivor," "American Idol," Lindsay Lohan, torture porn, and so forth.

So he's describing an immature, childlike culture that's aggressive, greedy, needy, and terribly frightened -- especially of growing up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 20, 2011
Morris Berman is a very erudite and sophisticated thinker, and yet this book is engaging and fairly easy to read because he delivers a steady stream of clear and penetrating insights which clarify important issues. Berman's main topic is American culture and his findings aren't flattering or encouraging.

If I may attempt to summarize, Berman finds American values to be centered on materialism, technology, and mindless "growth", all at the expense of crowding out more genuinely human values involving reflective intelligence and sincere personal interactions. The result is a highly individualistic, aggressive, and competitive culture which is so shallow that it amounts to an insular ideology, and consequently we're arrogantly intolerant of both self-criticism (declared "unpatriotic") and other cultures (declared "less developed" and therefore needing to "convert" to our way of life). While all of this is detrimental for the rest of the world, it has also resulted in our own society becoming increasingly unhealthy and unhappy, so we're on a lose-lose trajectory. I don't know of a solution to this problem, or that there even is one, and Berman doesn't seem to offer a solution either, though it's probably worth noting that he finally couldn't take it any more and wound up moving to Mexico ...

I recommend this book if you're interested in an honest diagnosis of what's going on in America, but stay away if you can't handle the truth.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Al Cardinale on November 21, 2010
I don't often take the time to write a review, but Dr.Berman, once again, is a read that is essential.

I discovered MB a long time ago, and a good friend and I have mused on Berman's subject matter for a decade. As I was about to order it, my friend, living is S Korea now (you know who you are!) sent me the book. I have had little time to read as of late, but when I opened the book, I was, as usual, sucked into what MB has to say. He puts his finger on the pulse of what is wrong and where we are.

If you are a student of culture and of life, you must read this book. I won't go into detail here, as others have. I will say that Morris shoots with deadly accuracy into the heart of what ails us.

Morris Berman is not for the weak of heart and especially not for the weak of mind. Follow his trail and you will find he has created a journey that is impossible to ignore. He will challenge your thinking as well as unlock the gate to release ideas locked in your own mind about the state of being.

Since my first reading of Twilight of American Culture his writing has allowed me to understand what was lurking beneath the surface but not generally articulated or clearly thought of as one contemplates the uneasiness of our present day dilemma.

Fantastic.
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