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The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America [Hardcover]

Eric P. Kaufmann

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Book Description

July 15, 2004 0674013034 978-0674013032 First Edition

As the 2000 census resoundingly demonstrated, the Anglo-Protestant ethnic core of the United States has all but dissolved. In a country founded and settled by their ancestors, British Protestants now make up less than a fifth of the population. This demographic shift has spawned a "culture war" within white America. While liberals seek to diversify society toward a cosmopolitan endpoint, some conservatives strive to maintain an American ethno-national identity. Eric Kaufmann traces the roots of this culture war from the rise of WASP America after the Revolution to its fall in the 1960s, when social institutions finally began to reflect the nation's ethnic composition.

Kaufmann begins his account shortly after independence, when white Protestants with an Anglo-Saxon myth of descent established themselves as the dominant American ethnic group. But from the late 1890s to the 1930s, liberal and cosmopolitan ideological currents within white Anglo-Saxon Protestant America mounted a powerful challenge to WASP hegemony. This struggle against ethnic dominance was mounted not by subaltern immigrant groups but by Anglo-Saxon reformers, notably Jane Addams and John Dewey. It gathered social force by the 1920s, struggling against WASP dominance and achieving institutional breakthrough in the late 1960s, when America truly began to integrate ethnic minorities into mainstream culture.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Eric Kaufmann's The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America will make an important contribution to the long-sustained debate over the nature and distinctiveness of American identity and American nationality. Kaufmann forcefully and effectively locates the significant moving power that has transformed the United States from a society with a single dominant ethnic group, into one that is clearly something else, in the powerful central ideas that were present at the origins of American society. (Nathan Glazer, Harvard University)

Many of Kaufmann's arguments and reinterpretations of historical periods are original. They will provoke discussion and criticism but in the process will advance our understanding of American national identity. He brings an original and fresh perspective to bear on the formation, content, and meaning of this identity. (Desmond King, author of Making Americans: Immigration, Race, and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy)

Illuminating...Mr. Kaufmann shows how the culture of 'white Anglo-Saxon protestants,' or Wasps, was constructed and, from the early 20th century, gradually dismantled. (Christopher Caldwell Financial Times 2004-10-09)

[A] compelling study...Kaufmann writes with admirable detachment and objectivity, and reveals the mechanism by which the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant founders of the U.S. lost their political and cultural dominance. Kaufmann shows how a longstanding cosmopolitan element within Wasp ideology shifted from a symbolic role to the core of national life, and the Wasp population recast their own role accordingly. In other words, they did it to themselves...It is so refreshing to read a generous, open and positive book on this subject--what a pity that it is Huntington who has attracted the attention. (Nicholas Cull Times Higher Education Supplement 2005-06-03)

About the Author

Eric P. Kaufmann is Lecturer in Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck College, University of London.

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