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The Dream & the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass Paperback – April 1, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The legacy of the subtitle, according to Magnet, a Fortune magazine editorial board member and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research analyst, is "a liberal, left-of-central worldview" that, despite the intentions of the 1960s counterculture advocates, divides our society more fully than ever into Haves and Have-Nots. The sexual revolution and the focus on free "expressiveness" had the effect of holding "the poor back from advancement by robbing them of responsibility for their fate and thus further squelching their initiative and energy." The counterculture, as subscribed to by mainstream media, the federal courts and such figures as Ted Kennedy, befuddled the work ethic with idealistic notions of civil rights and fair wages. Finding a poverty of spirit in recent art, such as the fiction of Anne Beattie and Bret Easton Ellis, Magnet urges that we " stop the current welfare system, stop quota-based affirmative action . . . stop letting bums expropriate public spaces . . . stop Afrocentric education in the schools." Magnet offers many examples of societal ills but fails to make a convincing case that the legacy of the counterculture is the culprit.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

From Publishers Weekly: The legacy of the subtitle, according to Magnet, a Fortune magazine editorial board member and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research analyst, is "a liberal, left-of-central worldview" that, despite the intentions of the 1960s counterculture advocates, divides our society more fully than ever into Haves and Have-Nots. The sexual revolution and the focus on free "expressiveness" had the effect of holding "the poor back from advancement by robbing them of responsibility for their fate and thus further squelching their initiative and energy." The counterculture, as subscribed to by mainstream media, the federal courts and such figures as Ted Kennedy, befuddled the work ethic with idealistic notions of civil rights and fair wages. Finding a poverty of spirit in recent art, such as the fiction of Anne Beattie and Bret Easton Ellis, Magnet urges that we " stop the current welfare system, stop quota-based affirmative action . . . stop letting bums expropriate public spaces . . . stop Afrocentric education in the schools." Magnet offers many examples of societal ills but fails to make a convincing case that the legacy of the counterculture is the culprit. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

“To read Magnet is to realize that the conservative critique of contemporary America is the more-- indeed the only-- radical critique just now.”
– George F. Will

“The book of the decade…the most insightful analysis of what has gone wrong in America during the past thirty years I’ve seen.”
– Mona Charen, syndicated columnist

“It is rare for a single short book to case such penetrating light on the world in which we live that it instantly becomes an indispensable guide to the outstanding question of the day…The Dream and the Nightmare is a work of this extraordinary kind.”
– Hilton Kramer, The New Criterion

“An absorbing tale of how the honorable intentions of liberal do-gooders produced tragic consequences. It is also at heart a profoundly optimistic book…Many writers have addressed this topic in recent years but few have done so with more wisdom or more passion than Mr. Magnet.”
– The Wall Street Journal

“Guaranteed non-PC from beginning to end.”
– Tom Wolfe

“This superbly written and well argued book should stimulate discussions across the breadth of the political spectrum.”
– National Review

“A powerful analysis of the ties between 1960s-era intellectual trends and contemporary urban social breakdown.”
– New York Post

“It is a superb book, thoughtful and impassioned.”
– Irving Kristol

“A masterly overview…that yields extraordinary explanatory power.”
– Carolyn Lochhead, Reason
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; Rep Sub edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #798,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read the original edition of this book and it is still the most important social commentary I've ever read. For those who have ever asked, "Why is the world the way it is today?", this book will explain it.
Magnet traces all of our current social problems- from crime to drug addiction, broken families to pregnant teenagers to school violence - to the liberal social experimentation of the Sixties and early Seventies, using pure a priori logic, not demagoguery.
Additionally he shows how those once radical ideas have become our mainstream, unquestioned assumptions, the very Establishment itself; conservatives are now the radicals shaking up the system.
Enormously enlightening for anyone who really wants to understand our current social predicaments.
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Format: Paperback
THE DREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE is an exceptionally important book. President George W. Bush specifically referred to it as one of the most influential books he has read and made it the cornerstone of his compassionate conservativism. In the book, Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute attempts to answer one of the true riddles of our time: In a society of such opportunity, why is there an underclass that seems totally entrenched in failure and that seems incapable of finding its way into the respectable mainstream of American life?

For those in the middle class, this really is a puzzle. The answers seem so obvious. Get a job; gain work experience in order to climb the ladder; do not expect something for nothing; be selective about who you have sex with and use those precautions necessary to minimize unwanted pregnancies; when you do have kids, read to them and oversee their upbringing so that they can properly interact with others; and if you do take drugs, well, just make it the occasional joint, don't get all crazy there. The answer Magnet reaches has less to do with policy and more to do with philosophy. THE DREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE is a manifesto to the concept that ideas have consequences.

Magnet points to the significant paradigm shift of the 1960s, in which many elites thought it was progressive, even compassionate, to denigrate traditional notions of morality and the American way of life.
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Format: Paperback
History and political science blend in this survey of the 1960s' legacy to modern times. Here Magnet argues that the radical events of the 1960s brought today's underclass and minorities into existence, producing changes in marriage and parenting which often led to dependency and closed doors for the underclass. An eye-opening treatise, The Dream and the Nightmare advocates a return to values honoring work, responsibility and law to help lift the barriers of poverty.
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Format: Paperback
Myron Magnet's book is an excellent example of why 1960s leftists should be having second thoughts. In a nutshell, he argues that the mindset and the values of the sixties are largely responsible for America's urban underclass. The sixties counterculture and the sexual revolution both put in place a set of values and beliefs that for many turned poverty into a way of life.

The liberations promoted by the counter-culturalists - sexual, personal, political, economic - did not liberate. Instead, they enslaved people. Says Magnet, the no-fault way in which the counter-culturalist conducted his personal life was "mirrored by his no-fault social policy, all rights and entitlements without responsibilities".

These counterculture values had a very real bearing on the issue of poverty. The traditional values that either prevented poverty or helped one escape from poverty - thrift, hard work, responsibility, deferral of gratification, sobriety - were eschewed. In their place were enshrined the values of hedonism, sensualism and selfishness. These values can only entrap, not liberate. As Irving Kristol put it, "It's hard to rise above poverty if society keeps deriding the human qualities that allow you to escape from it."

Take the sexual revolution for example. The reshaped values of the sexual revolution were directly responsible for the breakdown of families, for easy divorce, for illegitimacy, for sole-parent households. Not that these problems didn't exist before the onset of the sexual revolution, but they were certainly exacerbated and compounded by it.

The new culture, as Magnet explains, "permitted, even celebrated, behavior that, when poor people practice it, will imprison them inextricably in poverty.
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Format: Paperback
I had no idea that there were any intelligent, professional intellectuals left who not only could analyze the world around us and understand the cause and effects that have produced our society, but that had the courage to tell the truth! I read this book in July 2012 and is reads like a flash light being shined into a dark, room, suddenly everything I thought was in the room I can see, and as I shine the light around the room I see all kinds of things I never knew were there. I would like to say that shining the light on the truth of our cultural demise is wonderful experience, that now knowing the truth has set me free, but unfortunately it does not. Myron Magnet's work is scholarly, well researched, easly understood, and shows us how we have systematically destroyed the greatest culture ever invented since the begining of the creation, and have left in its place a nihilistic world in which no one can define good from bad, right from wrong, fact from fiction. We have taken our National World View in which we all shared the ideas of morality, thrift, self reliance, duty, and integrity and have replaced it with a view that says nothing we ever did is of any value, and in fact it is probably evil. We must redo everything. And in that new world view we have created programs that have condemned the underclass, largely black and urban, to a miserable, dependent, immoral existance that is as hard, and dangerous a life has has ever been lived in America. All the programs we instituted to help poor people have robbed them of the one essential item that they need to thrive and lift themselves out of the perpetual underclass, and that is a cultural value system that can guide thier behavior in such a way that the are happy and satisfied people, and productive for themselves, their families, their communities, and our nation. God help us, we are living a Shakespearean tragedy. Great book, everyone should read this book.
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