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The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations Paperback – May 17, 1991
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His vigorous appraisal of contemporary American life is to be admired as much for the perspicacity of his observations as for the contancy of this argument and the scope of his supporting references. . . . Few write with his penetration, intelligence, and historical expertise. (Kirkus Reviews)
Christopher Lasch has gone to the heart of our culture. The insights into personality and its social context are stunning. This is a courageous, important book. (Michael Rogin, University of California, Berkeley)
Cultural history at its best. . . . Provokes, startles, and keeps the reader arguing with himself as well as with the writer. . . . A book of fundamental importance. (Bruce Mazlish, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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Top Customer Reviews
It takes some effort to grasp Lasch's thesis, and I found some of the commentary dated (as one might expect from a book published in 1979), but the writing is very polished and thoughtfully provocative.
All of the "problems" I encountered with the book were those of trying to understand, think through, "test" and consider Lasch's ideas--which, to me, are all marks a good book. I can find fault with specifics in Lasch's ideas, but overall, this was a persuasive, interesting, and compelling union of cultural and individual analysis, centered on the psychoanalytic concept of narcissism and America's unique history.Read more ›
Not so. The book grew out of an earlier study of the family (Haven in a Heartless World) and is concerned with far larger cultural patterns than the transient decade-by-decade changes of the late 20th century. Lasch is concerned with the bureaucratization of both business and life, the surrendering of parental authority to `professionals' who are anxious to justify their existence and reap the benefits of a general cultural and personal dependency. We emerge from the womb too early, our primal feelings being those of loss (of our previous blissful state) and the painful realization of our utter dependency. This leads to both systems of thought and political/cultural programs designed to capitalize on those psychological realities. Rather than come to terms with our limitations and constraints we strive to regain our bliss by indulging our dependency and many stand by to help us with that doomed quest.
From that point, Lasch explores multiple aspects of our society, from higher education to sport to paternalism in its many forms, to sex, politics and popular culture. The result is a masterpiece of cultural history and analysis. In the course of the book Lasch is forced to struggle with multiple difficulties. First, cultural history is endlessly complicated and does not yield answers easily.Read more ›
I would highly recommend this book for every American that is interested in comprehending himself and his society. It will surely provide the reader with an educational experience and an electrifying reading!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hmmm. I happened across this book through some readings that could probably be described as cultural conservatism. And point by point, the man argues. Read morePublished 6 months ago by josephus
Attention America...the land of selfies! Please read this book about yourself.Published 7 months ago by Epicurean
Was needed for a play where it was referenced. Arrived clean, intact and in good shape.Published 8 months ago by Linda S. Rodemaker
Obviously a bit dated. But what Lasch was noticing back then has become more and more prominent today.Published 9 months ago by C. O'Donnell