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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: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,587 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

Berman's book is packed with such insights.
John David Ebert
Follow his trail and you will find he has created a journey that is impossible to ignore.
Al Cardinale
Hopefully you will be asking many questions after reading this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John David Ebert on January 20, 2012
You know that something fundamental and utterly irreversible has befallen the American publishing industry when Morris Berman, the author of The Twilight of American Culture and Dark Ages America, both published by a major house (W.W. Norton), is unable to find a publisher for his new book. As he remarks: "No American publisher was even mildly interested" since "clearly, a book like this is not going to make anybody rich." Berman therefore decided to self-publish it on Amazon's new self-publisher called Createspace.

Is this a reflection of the quality of the book, perhaps the reader is wondering? Maybe Berman's writing has slipped a little bit in his old age? Maybe he's just not as insightful as he used to be? And the answer is, no, the book is very similar in tone, style and quality of writing to his two previous books, both of which were fantastic. It is simply that the publishing industry, in the past decade, has changed completely, having become yet another victim of the predatory drive of Late Capitalism to make money and nothing but money.

Oswald Spengler, the German philosopher who wrote The Decline of the West, once summed America up in a single sentence, a sentence which, at the time I read it, about twenty years ago, I thought seemed a little harsh: "America: Dollar trappers; no past, no future." Nowadays, as with everything else Spengler wrote, that assessment seems to have been prophetically accurate.

In the first sentence of his new book, Berman points out that in 2006, after careful deliberation, he decided to move to Mexico, for he had become disgusted by how utterly callous and uncompassionate American society had become.
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