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Fate of America: An Inquiry into National Character Hardcover – August 13, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; 1st edition (August 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574883569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574883565
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,729,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

For Jungian analyst Gellert (Modern Mysticism: Jung, Zen and the Still Good Hand of God), America is at a fateful crossroads: will it allow the vision of its Founding Fathers "to be diffused through the cults of novelty, freedom, happiness or prosperity," or will it reconnect to its spiritual roots "moral integrity and integrity of good, balanced living"? Gellert contrasts the overlapping and competing visions of Adams and Jefferson by portraying Jefferson's philosophy of freedom as the absence of restrictions by the church and state and Adams's as a reflection of "interior integrity" based on one's character and ethics. Using this analysis as a backdrop, Gellert identifies and examines a host of contemporary U.S. problems emanating from the individualistic Jeffersonian philosophy, including an "addiction to innocence" (things are the way they appear) and an "addiction to height" (a need to express heroic visions through materialistic reaches toward the heavens e.g., skyscrapers and space programs). In separate chapters, he also discusses the embrace of what he terms "cults," which results in simplistic beliefs in celebrity, religious fundamentalism along with religious mediocrity, and the valuing of individual passion ("getting high"). Lost in all this focus on the self is character, ethics, and integrity the "vision thing." A broad-ranging, cogently argued, and provocative critique that has taken on a whole new dimension since September 11. For most academic libraries and larger public libraries. Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll., Lib., CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

What's wrong with the U.S.? Jungian analyst and professor Gellert maintains that we're suffering a crisis of heroism: our "heroic ideal" is too simplistic and immature for the nation and the times; in fact, it poses a serious threat to our democracy. Gellert traces the history of the American heroic ideal (the revolutionary, the frontiersman, the cowboy). More significantly, he examines the consequences of this youth-obsessed vision: addiction to "height" (making cults of prosperity, speed, celebrity, fundamentalism, drugs) and innocence (making cults of novelty, freedom, and happiness and refusing to deal with evidence of our own capacity for evil in, for example, racism, war, and imperialism). It is the implosion of this innocence, Gellert argues, that produces the "ossification of authority" and the cult of cynicism that govern current political and social discourse. Like the mythic heroes, he suggests, Americans must sacrifice innocence to achieve a deeper, more satisfying understanding of the meaning of the American enterprise. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Selwyn Mills on December 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a book of profound and timely importance Michael Gellert delineates the dilemma facing contemporary America at the turn of the new millenium with the insight of a scholar and the heart of a sage. His philosophic understanding of American character as played out in our national history is both unique and deeply engaging. In drawing out the fantasies, cults and motifs that have shaped our heroic sense of mission, our belief in unlimited possibilities and our quest for salvation in material wealth, he shows how we have drifted from the vision laid down by our founding fathers.
Particularly insightful is, in his first chapter, his treatment of the dichotomy between (in the spiritual and psychologial sense) authority and youth. He relates these two archetypes of the collective unconscious as bipolar and yet interdependent. The spirit of youth moves toward the spirit of
authority for guidance and completion and the spirit of authority moves toward the spirit of youth for rejuvenation and rebirth. Youth without authority stays forever young and becomes stagnant, authority without youth dries up and dies.
The early settlers embodied the spirit of authority (civilization, order and tradition), but the fierce wilderness of the continent encouraged the emergence of the primitive spirit of youth. The raw energies of this spirit were needed to transform the land and build the new nation. The consequence of this for the American character Mr. Gellert sees as a disposition toward barbarism, juxtaposed by a heritage of culture and spirituality-a schism between the spirits. What was lacking over much of our history and Puritanism, internationalism and isolationism, freethinking and religiosity, have characterized the American identity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven J. Frank, Ph.D. on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I found Michael Gellert's book a great comfort in the days following September 11. His view of the need to understand the impact of the heroic ideal on American history and culture could not be more timely. His ability to weave the social, the political, and the historical with the psychological, universal patterns of human behavior is truly impressive.
Steven J. Frank, Ph.D., Jungian Analyst, Director, Kieffer E. Frantz Clinic, C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles
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