From Publishers Weekly
More than any other cause, economic prosperity transformed the United States after World War II into a nation unlike any other in recorded history, posits Lindsey of the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute. Although Lindsey (Dead Hand: The Uncertain Struggle for Global Capitalism) acknowledges that millions of Americans live below the poverty line, he argues that mass prosperity changed the equation in many areas, including gender relations, race relations, labor-management relations, parent-child dynamics and organized religion. The result was the rise of a politically liberal counterculture, a politically conservative backlash, the labeling of blue states and red states, and a multitude of other political phenomenon. Although the book offers details about political campaigning, drug use, and the rise of rock and roll music among other events that made headlines from the 1950s into the 21st century, the details often overwhelm Lindsey's hypothesis. Ultimately, the book reads more like a college freshman survey course textbook than a compelling narrative. (May)
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*Starred Review* Freed of the struggle to meet basic needs, Americans have been privileged to focus on their wants. With breathtaking analysis, Lindsey, vice president of research at the Cato Institute, offers a dizzying look back over American economics, politics, and culture to examine the complexities of abundance. Improvements to everyday life, from electricity to clothing, have led to preoccupations with self-realization, equal rights, and relentless struggles between the political Left and Right. Drawing on observations from Karl Marx, Abraham Maslow, and Herbert Marcuse, among others, Lindsey traces the transformation of American culture as prosperity has shaken tried-and-true social conventions and the organizing principles that centered on the allocation of scarce resources. Prosperity has brought with it a sense that anything is possible. Lindsey pinpoints the current tensions between the political Left and Right to a 1967 San Francisco love-in and the opening of Oral Roberts University, both "eruptions of millenarian enthusiasm." Despite the tumult, Lindsey sees common ground as more Americans adopt a libertarian view, affirming core values while making allowances for different lifestyles. Readers from a broad spectrum of beliefs will appreciate the breadth and ardor of Lindsey's analysis, if not his conclusions. Vanessa Bush
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