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One Nation, Two Cultures: A Searching Examination of American Society in the Aftermath of Our Cultural Revolution Paperback – January 30, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375704108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704109
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

?Of all those who write about the moral condition of America, Himmelfarb is best.??Commentary

From the Back Cover

“Once or twice in a generation–if that often–a very wise person writes a very pithy book that compresses everything that needs to be said about a given topic into the briefest of compasses…. One Nation, Two Cultures is such a book.”–National Review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
"One Nation, Two Cultures" is the best work of cultural criticism and political philosophy by a social conservative in recent years. Himmelfarb argues that pathologies which resulted from the cultural revolutions of the 1960's may be cured by reinvigorated democratic institutions; civil society, the family, and religion. The thesis is not original, but the cogency of Himmelfarb's analysis, her historical insight, and her thoughtful meditation on the two cultures which now exist in the country make her book worthwhile. Those cultures are an elite, permisive and non-judgemental culture and a dissident, moral culture composed almost wholly of people who are religious.
Himmelfarb's analysis of the democratic institutions which might remedy the moral disorder she describes is cogent. She develops a typology of civil society proponents and prefers hard advocates to soft; she echoes Schumpeter's analysis of the decline of the family, and she analyzes religion's positive effects on citizen's morality thoroughly.
Himmelfarb is a historian. Her book consequently has a depth which is lacking in the policy writings of conservative scholars. Civil society, liberals and conservatives agree, needs strenghtening. But did you now that, as she points out, civil society was not in our political vocabulary until the 1980's?
Himmelfarb's meditation on the two cultures which have developed because of the cultural revolutions is similarly thoughtful. For instance, she notes that the gap between elites who are non-judgemental, permissive, and post-modern and a dissident, moral, culture which cuts across class and racial lines is not static.
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14 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
There is something either profoundly naive or, more likely, duplicitous, in advocating the state take up the slack of moral vanguard in the face of a progressive assault on traditional morality. Like a good neo-con, there is nothing genuinely conservative about this argument. In essence, Himmelfarb only has one thesis, the same she presents in all her books: we need to bring back shame and moral condemnation. Practically, this means we need to be smug, as smug as the members of her little circle - the same circle that now has American boys fighting to implement Sharia law in the formerly secular Iraq. Why? Because this is the absurd argument that people of morality can make alliance against the western Left, and that the real divide is between traditional morality and progressive thought, whereas the real divide is between the west and the rest. We will always have more in common with fellow westerners, be they Marxists or atheists, than with Others.

There is no love of Christendom here, no grasp of the pulse of western civilization or the underlying culture of America, only an ongoing attempt to impose on the reader an either/or alternative that will appeal to the unimaginative. Read some Thomas Sowell instead. Gertrude and her apartment-dwelling NY friends really are the Reanointed.
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a well thought out and even treatise on the state of society today. Without the alarmist or angry overtones that infect many social perspectives and commentaries available. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the divisions of society today.
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23 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Richard N. Bentley on December 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
As conservative Judge Richard Posner pointed out in the New York Times Book Review (Dec 19, 1999), Ms. Himmelfarb unwittingly makes quite the opposite case from the one she intended to make, describing an American society that could easily impress an observer as being on its "moral uppers". This book should be read alongside Alan Wolfe's "One Nation After All" published a year earlier. Wolfe's book, based on hundreds of interviews conducted for the Middle Class Morality Project of the centrist Russell Sage Foundation, found that most Americans, both liberal and conservative, have developed a complex moral and theological style that holds fast to traditional values while embracing religious and cultural diversity. A better informed population is now more likely to substitute individual conscience and personal responsibility for blind acceptance of authority. The book concluded that the "culture war" theory of America was largely a fiction cooked up by right wing intellectuals and the news media --- which habitually portray the country in terms of stereotyped divisions over moral, racial, and social issues. Ms. Himmelfarb's thesis --- that we must all respect authority simply because it is Authority, is an example of this mode of "thinking."
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