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Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age Paperback – October 26, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (October 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566637538
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566637534
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Kay Hymowitz thoughtfully takes on the minimalists who say a marriage is just a shack-up plus a piece of paper. Her elegant essays show that marriage is an essential culture-preserver, poverty-fighter, and life-improver. (Marvin Olasky, editor–in–chief, World News Group World)

America could save itself a lot of trouble by paying attention to what [Hymowitz] writes. (Theodore Dalrymple, author of Our Culture, What’s Left of It)

A sobering investigation of the widening gap in the American social structure that's being caused by new attitudes toward marriage. (Ron Haskins, co-director, Center on Children and Families, The Brookings Institution)

The most fascinating (but grimmest) sections...deal with child-rearing skills in unmarried America. (Charlotte Hays The Wall Street Journal)

Marriage and Caste in America should provoke serious thought about how marriage has become a class issue—and what we can do about it. (Christine B. Whelan New York Post)

Essential. (David Brooks The New York Times)

Hymowitz...has concluded that the family revolution [is both] bad news for children [and] has had the effect of stratifying the country as a whole. (Steve Goddard's History Wire)

Hymowitz provides an arresting diagnosis of American social ills. (Cheryl Miller The American Conservative)

Hymowitz has the gift of being able to convey complicated ideas, theories, and history in lucid and witty language. (Lisa Schiffren Commentary)

A strong case for the value of marriage. (Today's Machine World)

A short and readable volume.... Hymowitz has surely contributed...to creating the present hopeful moment for mainstream America. (Claudia Anderson The Weekly Standard)

Kay Hymowitz makes a persuasive case in Marriage and Caste in America that the best social program is actually marriage. (David Forsmark Front Page Magazine)

[The author] has the gift of being able to convey complicated ideas, theories, and history in language that is lucid and-most precious of all in discussions of marriage and family-witty. It is a pleasure to read her essays....an intelligent, compelling case....Clear and forceful conclusions about what is missing from the impoverished lives that she describes so well. (Book Review Digest)

Hymowitz cogently lays out a case that when it comes to reducing poverty, economics and family structure can't be separated. (Newsobserver.Com)

Beautifully written tour de force of contemporary American family life. (W Bradford Wilcox, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and fellow of the Witherspoon Institute First Things)

Powerful...unflinching...analysis of this crisis of the black abandonment of marriage. (Gregory J. Sullivan Evening Bulletin)

[A] fascinating and informational [book] that you ought to read. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger)

About the Author

Kay S. Hymowitz is the author of Liberation's Children and Ready or Not, and has written extensively on education and childhood in America in articles for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic, among other publications. She is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York City and a contributing editor of City Journal. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three children.

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Customer Reviews

I commend this book to everyone who is concerned about marriage, parenting, and the welfare of children.
Evan Horner
There were parts that I disliked and that left a bad taste in my mouth but, overall it's an important book for generation Y and X-ers to read.
mxh326
An excellent book that directly assesses the excuses for family dysfunction, and the generational gap with the nuclear family.
Paige

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Mark MacGuidwin on December 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In writing this easy-to-read, but hard-to-swallow little book, Kay Hymowitz has done more to show the route out of poverty and despair for inner city black children than all the nanny-state prescriptions of "child advocacy" organizations like the Childrens' Defense Fund (now there's a misnomer). She describes well the fundamental difference between middle class families--with both father and mother living in the same house--and single mothers with absentee fathers in the inner city. In middle-class families, the child's development--"emotional, social, and...cognitive--takes center stage. It is the family's raison d'etre, its state religion." It is a lack of understanding of what she labels the "mission" of the family for the child, that perpetuates the underclass. It hit me between the eyes when a nurse, working with poor, young, first-time mothers, is quoted as saying that when she encouraged such mothers to talk to their babies, they often reply, "Why would I talk to him? He can't answer me." Throwing more money at government programs like Head Start haven't been able and never will be able to overcome such a view of the role of the "family" in developing a self-reliant, productive and, yes, happy child and young adult. And unfortunately, for more and more central cities of the US, there are no longer any models of middle class behavior for young people to learn from. No one can show how a full-time father living in the home acts--because there are none.

The good news from this book is that Gen X young people, having seen and felt the horrific effects of easy divorces by Baby Boomer parents, are becoming more and more committed to staying together in traditional marriages. The bad news, as Hymowitz demonstrates, is that American society is becoming more and more bifurcated.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Hagios on February 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written and accessible look at some of the research surrounding marriage and poverty. In the first chapter Kay Hymowitz shows that the breakdown of marriage has not been a universal phenomenon. Instead divorce and single motherhood are concentrated among the poor. The result is that the breakdown of marriage entraps another generation into poverty. This shows up clearly in the statistics, Only 20% of children in families earning under $15,000 live with both parents, compared to 92% for children whose parents make over $75,000. This also shows up in surprising ways. In a world in which divorce rates are nearly fifty percent, only 10% of students in elite colleges come from divorced families.

Affluent families are governed by what Hymowitz dubs "The Mission." Affluent parents invest tremendous amounts of time and energy into their children in order to prepare them for a successful life. Even socially liberal women recognize the importance of enlisting fathers in the process of raising children. Heartbreakingly, this is not emulated in the broken homes of the underclass. There is an adage that goes, "When America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia," and this is sadly true when it comes to the breakdown of the family. Hymowitz describes childrearing in the black community, where in many inner cities the rates of out of wedlock childbirths are nearly 80%. Unmarried parents may start out with good intentions, but over time they drift in different directions. When the black mothers try to get the fathers to invest more time and energy into their children, they are derided for "actin' white."

Other books that people who read this will like are
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Wynton C. Hall on December 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you don't already read Kay Hymowitz's essays in City Journal, you will after reading this book. She's that rare writer who manages to be bold without being bombastic. Her take on the crumbling institution of marriage is at once sobering and smart. Her thesis: marriage matters. In language that is simple without being simplistic, she reveals how marriage is the ultimate "anti-poverty program," and how so much that ails our nation's youth derives from absentee fathers. She delivers a heavy message with a hopeful conclusion: in the end, many of the challenges our nation's families face aren't all that hard to solve, they just take the moral courage and individual initiative to do so.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Nevermind VINE VOICE on February 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What are we going to do? That's the question Hymowitz asks as she surveys the wreckage of marriage in America.

"In 1960 ...the percentage of high school dropouts who were never-married mothers barely hit 1 percent...Moreover, almost all women stayed married" (p 18). How things have changed. Now our illegitimacy rate hovers at 37% and the majority of children spend at least part of their childhood without both their natural parents.

A huge number of young women have simply lost the life script that would lead them to marriage. And the result is tragic.

Children of single mothers are at huge risk for emotional problems, drug abuse, suicide, sexual abuse, and school problems. There are only a tiny minority of prisoners in our prisons who grew up with both their natural parents.

Worse, these problems do not go away after a few years. They are lifelong, rolling like waves through years of further troubled relationships and poverty. And even worse than that, none of the palliatives most people suggest have helped. Head Start is a failure. As research in Sweden shows, no matter how much money the government spends, children of single mothers tend never to do as well as the children of married parents.

Nor can the presence of a father figure later on help much. In fact, statistics show that second marriages or later father figures tend to increase, not decrease, the amount of trouble for the child.

It's apparent even among the elite. "Cornell professor Jennifer Gerner was baffled some years ago when she n noticed that only about 10% of her students came from divorced families' (p 24).

So if our breezy modern attitude toward marriage is harming a huge number of children, what can be done?

Anyone interested in this subject will want to read the best book on the subject, "The Abolition of Marriage" by Maggie Gallagher.
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