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The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization Paperback – September 16, 2008


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The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization + American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character + The Rebuttal: Defending 'American Betrayal' from the Book-Burners
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312340494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312340490
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

West, a Washington Times columnist with a hard-line conservative's interest in culture, sounds a dire alarm over an age she sees marked by the mainstreaming of countercultural behavior. An unprecedented reversal of priorities from parents to children has occurred since the 1950s, according to West, allowing for structural failures that permitted the behavioral revolutions of the 1960s to go forward unimpeded. To support her case, West draws on sources generally weighted to the right end of the political spectrum, like Robert Bork and Daniel Pipes. Her examination of the social repercussions of a new youth market would be better grounded within the context of the transformations in postwar American society, but she focuses instead on the negative aspects of these large and complex changes, without reflecting on her underlying assumptions. In her view, the prolonged adolescence of baby boomers has left America open to an insidious Islamization of culture via a misconceived political correctness that can't recognize the dehumanizing ideology of that religion. West, a vocal purveyor of distrust toward Islamic cultures, lays nothing less than the decline of Western civilization on the American counterculture, making her argument compelling only to those already in her corner. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Writing in the Washington Times and elsewhere, West has proven to be a caustic critic of contemporary popular culture as well as a hawkish detractor of Islam. With this book, she fleshes out her archconservative worldview by arguing that today's popular culture is complicit in the threat posed to America by Islamic terrorists, and that the 1960s counterculture is to blame. In rejecting time-honored notions of adulthood (read: modesty, self-discipline, respect for authority) in favor of decadence and inclusiveness, she argues, the baby boomers inaugurated a culture of perpetual adolescence that erodes Western cultural identity. Channeling Samuel Huntington, West claims that this erosion of identity renders us incapable of countering potentially existing threats with adequate resolve and harshness. Although its first chapters weave together some anecdotal musings about the rise of youth culture, readers primarily interested in historical analysis might do better elsewhere. Readers seeking a sweeping polemic against the cultural Left, however, will enjoy this jeremiad's fiery indignance and playfully cutting prose. Driscoll, Brendan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

With the publication of my second book, "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character," I am looking forward to a vigorous debate about my findings, which led me to conclude that far too much of our history (and thus our understanding of ourselves as a people) has been based on a series of Big Lies promoted by an infiltrated, penetrated and subverted US government, from the the days of FDR forward. The admittedly sweeping nature of my claims convinced my editor, St. Martin's Press's Michael Flamini, to include every single one of my 961 endnotes in the book -- just to make sure people could see the same evidence I did.

I am a journalist, not a historian, although writing a syndicated weekly newspaper column since 1999 makes me one of those first-drafters of history. Indeed, I came very close to completing a History major at my alma mater, Yale, until changing my major to English after deciding I preferred the fiction of the Ages to the politics of the History Department. After about twenty years as a journalist (and about 15 as the mother of twins), my first book, "The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization" came out in 2007, also with St Martin's Press, and also with editor Michael Flamini.

Shortly after I began researching and writing "American Betrayal" back in 2009, I began to feel as though I were forging a new genre, "investigative history." As I mined the discarded documents and memoirs and came across new (to me) historical figures and even heroes of the past, I realized I was engaging in an effort to reclaim what stands as a lost history -- our lost history.

There is more to find.

Customer Reviews

It also makes one look at oneself to see if you find yourself as part of the problem.
Rynomom
This somewhat masturbatory screed does not offer sound reasoning, does not pose convincing arguments, and it's very tiresome to read.
Rahul P. Kamath
The book is very well written--I had a hard time putting it down, reading for hours without a break.
First Principles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

287 of 297 people found the following review helpful By Philly Phool on December 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was originally going to title this review "The Death of the Underlying Cause". It appeared to me that Ms. West had a lot to say, negatively, about the culture of the sixties, and spent a lot of time saying it while not delving in to find out the reasons why. Perhaps the sexual revolution and the drug counter-culture were really live-for-today attitudes spawned as the result of feelings of impending doom brought on by the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation or the specter of going off to fight a hopeless war in Viet Nam. And is Rock'N Roll really all that bad? Yea, OK, some of it is, but a lot of it is insightful and well written. I tended to agree with her that our generation has produced its share of immaturity, but I was not convinced that it was any worse today than, say, 50 years ago.

Then a funny thing happened. She started hitting on several issues that were hard to deny. Like how children are more and more becoming the center of the universe these days. And how parents are doing less and less to impart our cultural values to these children. The vulgarization of language that recently popped up in the media and the soft-porn that is creeping into it as well. Stories of parents throwing wild parties for their kids that could never happen when we ourselves were children. The yearly ritual of spring break and the debauchery it spawns in our kids. Parents accompanying their kids on these 'binges' and renting hotel rooms for them instead of standing up to them as our parents would've. Rationalizing it all with an "at least they'll be safe" attitude.

Then she really gets going.
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185 of 197 people found the following review helpful By JanSobieski on October 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Diana West's book deserves far greater attention than it is currently receiving. She manages to analyze several seemingly disparate cultural trends including Islamic appeasement, the devolution of our music, lack of civilizational pride and the deceits of political correctness and multiculturalism discovering the common denominator to be the infantilizing influence of the post WWII emphasis on youth with the resultant elevation of "youth" to its current cult like status. But it is much much more than that. Diana West provides the reader with that most coveted of reading experiences, the "ah-ha" moment whereby the reader is exposed to depths of insight and analysis that lead him to observations that he "felt" or "knew to be true" but left to his own devices might never have fully articulated. She's that good. I'm sure she wouldn't mind me saying that she's a bit of an anachronism in that she brings to bear pre-modern sensibilities that enable her to so successfully illuminate our current condition.

Diana West is a very bright and insightful author whose refreshing look at our culture and its decent into immaturity and callowness is long overdue. She tells us that we need to stop being afraid of being an adult, of standing for something other than self-indulgence. She castigates multiculturalism as as a childish refusal to make moral and ethical distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad. We need to stop being afraid to face the truth and speak openly about it. Instead we succumb to the childishness of relativism and nihilism rather than face the more cumbersome questions of adulthood.
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180 of 206 people found the following review helpful By a citizen on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Diana West's analysis is, as I say, dead-on accurate.
I've been watching the downhill spiral of changes of our society and culture myself since high school ~40 years ago.
It's way past time to honestly, boldly speak the truth; to yell out (as in the story Ms. West refers to), "The Emperor has no clothes."
The one-star review above is sadly light-years wide of the mark in virtually every one of its aspects.
It could not be expressed better than as is clearly stated in the words of that review itself: the positions, attitudes, and statements in that review represent a major part of the problem our civilization is facing.
Also sadly, yet another example of, "If it has to be explained to you, you'll never understand."
Merely pointing out the truth.
Read Ms. West's book; and hope there's some way we can rally our culture, get the grownups back in charge, and pull our society out of the cesspool.
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129 of 149 people found the following review helpful By N. Franzen on August 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The only justification I need for knowing everything West writes is true is a stroll on any school campus in America. Bratty parents beget bratty kids. As a teacher, I cannot imagine a more detrimental consequence to kids today, than parents who won't grow up and teach them how to live in the real world.

Capitalism didn't do it. Reagan didn't do it. We did it. All by ourselves.

Personal responsibility, or lack thereof, can't be denied as the cause of the party-with-your-kids-parents who exist today.

Read the book. Then read it to your kids.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By David Bower TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is subtitled, "How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization." In her book, Ms. West describes the situation facing Western Civilization as a generation of young people refuses to grow up and assume the role of adults. We are seeing in our own nation the results of this refusal to assume adult responsibilities. Everywhere one looks we see physical adults acting like children and refusing to accept adult responsibilities. The book is filled with pages illustrating examples of this failure.

It is not an easy read but it is a valuable read if you have any interest in the future of the United States of America or, on a more global scale, Western Civilization itself.

Ms. West's book is also a sobering read; she points out in very clear terms the problems our society faces today. As our society goes, so go the lives of the members of that society. Our society and we as members of that society are facing one of the greatest threats in the history of Western Civilization.

One of the most dangerous aspects of that threat is our refusal to even identify the threat or acknowledge that it exists. We appear to think that if we deny that the threat is real, it may even cease to be a threat. That is truly delusional.

The threat is Islam and the Quran (and yes, I do have a copy of the Quran and have read many portions of it, but mostly use it as a reference). Islam has a clear agenda which includes the United States. Islam's goal is the conversion of all peoples and nations to a global caliphate under Sharia law. If you do not understand the implications of an Islamic society under Sharia law, you better start doing your homework; this book is an excellent place to start.
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