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The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (Revised and Enlarged Edition) Paperback – September 17, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0393318548 ISBN-10: 0393318540 Edition: Revised and Enlarged Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised and Enlarged Edition edition (September 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318548
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this updated version of a modern classic, acclaimed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. strikes a blow against radical multiculturalism. The rising cult of ethnicity, he argues, threatens a common American identity, imperiling the civic ideals that traditionally have bonded immigrants into a nation. Various chapters criticize bilingual education, Afrocentrism, and the use of history as group therapy for minorities. Schlesinger raised eyebrows when he first published this book in 1992 because of his impeccable liberal credentials as a one-time assistant to President Kennedy and long-standing academic champion of FDR's New Deal. This new version contains all of the original volume's edge, plus a few extras, including an appendix containing "Schlesinger's Syllabus," 13 books "indispensable to an understanding of America." Titles from this eclectic list include The Federalist Papers, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Mencken's American Language. The Disuniting of America remains an essential book for readers interested in the American character as it enters the 21st century. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this forcefully argued essay, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Schlesinger contends that America as melting pot has given way to an "eruption of ethnicity . "
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book brings these ideas to mind and will make you think and reflect.
Amazon Customer
Amusing to say the least, if the reader can overcome or ignore the veiled bias and prejudice found throughout the book.
Bilingual Ed doctoral student
Overall the book is moderate in tone and balanced in argument and well worth reading.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Justin Evans on April 23, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most compelling reads of non-fiction I have ever come across. Without a doubt, this is one of few books I found of real use in college, and I continue to read and reflect upon it to this day. In fact, I would call this book essential for any social studies curriculum.
Arthur Schlesinger takes the issues of a new PC nation and puts them into real perspective. He is both pro-culture and pro-heritage, but he stands against the idea that cultural identity means a seperation of the American People. Taking on a myriad of topics, Schlesinger explains with great simplicity, straight-forwardness, and honesty how multi-culturalism can be taken too far, taken to absurd conclusions. Essentially, Schlesinger is letting us know that not everything is best when it is presented through the eyes of multi-culturalism.
I read the book in a single sitting. Once I started to read, I was drawn in more and more. Even if you don't agree with his premise, Schlesinger writes in such a way that there is no ambiguity to what he is saying. Knowing Schlesinger's politics for some may make this all the more shocking, but I have to ask those who oppose the message of this book whether they are upset that he is saying these things in general, or if they are upset because a "liberal" is saying these things.
In my opinion this book is of critical importance to understand the second half of the 20th century in America.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Brett Williams on May 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Schlesinger served the Kennedy administration, heavily involved in advancing Civil Rights. Any memory of pre-1960s America justifies his passion. Even lynching of African Americans was not illegal until Truman made it so in 1948. Images of fire hose and German Shepard attacks on peaceful black protestors or their white supporters remains a stark American memory. His book, however, is an alert to those of reason regardless of affiliation that the movement has run off its tracks. But that hasn't stopped its wreckage from continuing to plow a path of ruin through its original intent. As Schlesinger puts it, "A culture of ethnicity has arisen to denounce the idea of a melting pot, to protect and perpetuate separate ethnic and racial communities." Its underlying philosophy is that America is not a nation of individuals but a nation of groups, he says; ethnicity is the defining experience; division into ethnic communities establishes the structure of American society and the fundamental meaning of American history. "Multiethnic dogma abandons historic purposes, replacing assimilation by fragmentation, integration by separation." Our modern movements succeed where the Klan failed.

Referencing multiculturalism he asks if it is the school's function to teach racial pride? When does obsession with difference threaten identity? Since this 1993 book, obsession has become an educational standard. Our calendar is split into months for one race pride or another (except white and European). It starts early - believing the purpose of history is therapeutic. He notes, "Once ethnic pride and self-esteem become the criterion for teaching history then certain things cannot be taught.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Schlesinger book goes deeper than "Alien Nation" by Peter Brimelow. It was fascinating to read the "liberal" perspective on this subject, since it is the liberal press who has lectured us on the glories of diversity for over 20 years now.... After nearly two years of working in southern California -- (I couldnt wait to return to Western Civilization: in my case, New York) -- I think multiculturalism is a complete disaster. Call it Bosnia Lite, at least for now.... Schlesinger chronicles the Balkanization of America with surprising candor.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dave Huber on November 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Schlesinger isn't just "another conservative" lamenting the onslaught of multiculturalism. He genuinely believes in the now out-of-vogue "melting pot" vision of America, which obviously infuriates many modern liberals. After all, "melting pot" implies "white" and "male." Heaven forbid. Arguably, the most important aspect of the melting pot vision is the governmental and legal system of the United States. Modern liberals and various interest groups are trying to change this presently (which is their right, of course), but disturbingly trying to also rewrite its history. For instance, as Schlesinger writes, the New York State curriculum has mandated that study of the American Founding include reference to the "Haudenosaunee political system" -- in effect, the Iroquois Confederation. Schlesinger correctly notes that this "influence" on the Constitution's Framers was "marginal," and on European intellectuals it was non-existent. (After all, wasn't it virtually only Ben Franklin's quote, after visiting the Iroquois, that said essentially, "If they can do [create a confederation], why can't we?") But, no other state has as effective an Iroquois lobby as New York.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By P.K. Ryan on September 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
While this book was not as compelling as I expected it to be, I completely agree with the general premise. That being that multi-culturalism taken too far is both harmful and counter-productive. Not to mention that it is completely antithetical to what our founders envisioned for this country. Mr. Schlesinger has nothing against the teaching of cultures other than European-American, but he insists that an over-emphasis on ethnicity, ultimately promotes division and an 'us vs. them' mentality. Multi-culturalists argue that it is important for students to be taught about their own respective ethnicity in order to have self-esteem and pride. Mr. Schlesinger argues, and I firmly agree, that as Americans, we no longer belong to the ethnicities of our grandfathers. Our founding fathers were clear about this, Americans are a "new race of men" who must "cast off the European skin, never to resume it." Indeed, America was meant to be a melting pot. Schlesinger acknowledges that throughout much of our history, many minorities were forcibly excluded from fully assimilating. This is no longer the case though, and I think it is important to point out that just because a man (or a nation) fails to live up to it's ideals, does not mean that the ideals are wrong. Included in the book are quotes from various Americans about this issue, and I was somewhat surprised by some of them. For instance, the great Frederick Douglas said, "No one idea has given rise to more opression and persecution toward the colored people of this country, than that which makes Africa, not America, their home. It is that wolfish idea that elbows us off the sidewalk, and denies us the rights of citizenship."

I firmly believe that this tribalist mentality is one of the foremost issues facing America today.
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