48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Those in the Social Sciences
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...
Published on April 23, 2002 by Justin Evans
20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Little Too Late...
What's most surprising about this book is, first, its belated recognition of a trend that had been proceeding apace for decades when this book was written in 1990, and second, the author's failure to see the implications of his conclusions for the immigration debate, which was as voluble in 1990 as now. Common to both is the author's persistent ideological clinging to the...
Published on December 28, 2009 by Siriusreviews.com
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Those in the Social Sciences,
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This review is from: The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (Revised and Enlarged Edition) (Paperback)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.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous,
This review is from: The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (Revised and Enlarged Edition) (Paperback)Schlesinger served the Kennedy administration, heavily involved in advancing Civil Rights. Any memory of pre-1960s America justifies his passion. Even lynching of Blacks was not illegal until Truman made it so in 1948 and images of fire hose and German Shepard attacks on peaceful Black protestors or their White supporters remains a stark 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 this 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." Schlesinger asks the question, "Why does anyone suppose that pride and inspiration are available only from people of the same ethnicity?" One wonders.
Schlesinger's core warning is the same as that of the Founders, that "the virus of tribalism lies dormant, flaring up to destroy entire nations." But that has not stopped the derailment of Civil Rights. As Schlesinger notes, Black America's valid leaders - like so much from the Left that began for the right reasons - have been hijacked for the benefits of opposition, not unification.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Astute analysis from an icon.,
This review is from: The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great analysis,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (Revised and Enlarged Edition) (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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trenchant, and up from the trenches of the cultural wars,
Central to his argument is the distinction between politically correct history, and 'correct' or more to the point, honest history. It's not honest, he says, to regard the European origins of American culture as something to be excised or qualified. He is harshest when criticising multicultural pseudo-learning which is pushed as an alternative. The truth is Europe as a 'Great Power' or 'Hegemonic' power, (depends on your perspective), will naturally have it's history told, while other histories are omitted. That's the nature of power politics. Multiculturalists argue that this is their raison d'etre, to 'write' these wrongs by giving voice to other histories. What is often overlooked is that this same power struggle between mainstream and minorities exists within multiculturalism itself among contending minority groups. For newly arrived Caribbean or African immigrant groups, their relationship with established African-Americans is the experience of dealing with a 'hegemon', at least in terms of political power. This is a point that Mr Schelsinger missed entirely by lumping all ethnic groups together. He recognizes the importance of honoring one's ethnic heritage and as such has a progressive view of assimilation, he's not talking about a homogenous people after all. At the same time he lost an opportunity to reinforce one of the strengths of assimilation compared to the ethnic pluralism of multiculturalism. It's a fair assumption that immigrants, by their very act of coming here, wish to be American and therefore try to assimilate. The success of the venture to date, has been due more to the actions of native-born Americans than the immigrants. Belief in the individual and allowing newcomers the opportunity to prove themselves legitimizes the immigrant. There's the strength of assimilation.
African-Americans, of course, are not immigrants. Native-born, yet still facing a problem more of integration rather than assimilation. If this book has a failing it is here. Under the rubric of multiculturalism all ethnic or minority group issues are seen as a whole. This is simply not the case.
Overall the book is moderate in tone and balanced in argument and well worth reading.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Tribalism Stupid,
I firmly believe that this tribalist mentality is one of the foremost issues facing America today. We will not survive as a nation if we continue to separate ourselves along lines of race, ethnicity, or religion. As long as we view ourselves as Irish-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, or African-Americans, we will never be true Americans. And we will not view each other as fellow Americans, but as separate tribes that need to be guarded against. Is this the America that our founding fathers would have wanted?
As I stated earlier, I didn't find the book as compelling as I expected. Not that it's not good, but I felt the author could have gone further. All in all, it is a decent starting point for anyone interested in the subject of multi-culturalism.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking back at the United America,
For people over 50, you will recognize America as it was. For younger folks, this will give you an idea of the very rapid changes this country has experienced.
The country was at one time like a rich stew, and now has become a bunch of individual plates of foods or ingredients that don't even want to touch each other. Each ingredient yells out how important it is, and not realizing that carrots alone, wonderful as they may be, have not reached the potential they can when mixed with potatoes, meat, tomatoes, spices and lovingly blended into that rich stew.
Hopefully people will read and understand that the individual ethnic groups need recognition. But, they need to be Americans first, and their ethnic background as second. For example, American-Asian instead of
Asian-American. The ethnocentricism is tearing the country apart, weakening us to invasions of many types.
This book brings these ideas to mind and will make you think and reflect.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great and Important Book,
While Thomas Paine argued the reasons why America should not be oppressed by monarchial tyranny, Schlessinger adroitly exposes the tyranny of today's multiculturalists. This little book discusses the movement in America to disaggregate our nation into ethnic and gender subgroups. It argues, persuasively in my mind, how this movement is dangerous and has the potential to subvert the mentality that has allowed America to reconcile itself to being a nation composed of others more successfully than any other polygot nation in history.
America has not achieved the transformation from ethnic peoples to an American people equally for all our citizens throughout much of our history. However, it is unarguable that the attempt to allow anyone to assume the mantle "American" simply by embracing our national ideals and identity has been a success and is an important component of the moral strenth of our country.
Schlessinger's book is very readible. Using historical analysis and logic, he renders an excellent case against the excesses of the multiculturalist movement and in favor of "Americanism" and a national identity (however one chooses to define it).
If there is one book that elected officials and school officials should read, this would be my choice.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought-provoking,
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent analysis of ethnic polarization in America,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Disuniting of America/Reflections on a Multicultural Society (Paperback)This highly readable book analyzes the drift in American culture. Originally America was a "melting pot" where each immigrant ethnic wave valued subverted their cultural values to become emersed in the language, politics and culture of the US. The current environment tends to value ethnic differences. The survival of America, which has sustained frequent waves of immigrants, is challenged by the polarization into ethnic enclaves. Many other countries not unified have suffered chaotic internal conflicts such as the Balkans, Spain, Zaire, etc. He analyzes the effects of language, history, and cultural values on the stability of America.
Although the author's posture is not exactly politically correct, it forces the reader to examine the impact of valuing ethnic differences rather than the commonality of being "American."
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The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (Revised and Enlarged Edition) by Arthur Meier Schlesinger (Paperback - September 17, 1998)