Will America always fly the Stars and Stripes? Will its borders be the same in 50 years? It may sound crazy, but the answers to those questions are less certain than most Americans probably think. History shows flags and borders change frequently. Countries are like marriages--they fall apart all the time. Three-quarters of the countries in the United Nations were not there 50 years ago. In his book The Untied States of America
, Juan Enriquez chucks out conventional wisdom and says the U.S. may not be immune to mounting global forces of national dissolution. He argues that Americans should get ready now for a messy, secession-driven future.
Enriquez is a former Mexican government official and fellow at Harvard's Center for International Affairs. He says growing political, racial, and economic divisions in the U.S. could provoke secessionist movements in the South and New England. It has happened before. Enriquez points to the Philippines, which gained independence from the U.S. in 1946. In Texas, he writes, 42 percent of people support secession and a confederation with the U.S. Unfortunately, while Enriquez addresses an important topic, his writing style is sensationalistic and plays loose with some facts. (For example, he claims that the Canadian province of Quebec bans toys that use a language other than French--not true--and that 94 percent of Quebec voters rejected independence for the province in a 1995 referendum; the correct number is 51 percent.) Enriquez also employs a distracting and jarring presentation style: He rarely writes a paragraph longer than one sentence, and each page is a cacophony of bolded and capitalized words and varying font sizes, a provocative choice that in this case comes off as strange and amateurish. --Alex Roslin
From Publishers Weekly
American history, both distant and recent, is troubled with violence and schisms that constantly threaten the foundations of the country. The country has endured a civil war, two world wars, slavery, genocide and now, of course, the raging battle between the red and blue states. Are we on the brink of dissolution? That's the question Enriquez poses in this fact-filled, statistic-laden book. For more than 200 pages, Enriquez, the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, gives readers as many reasons as he can for why America may be headed toward an un-united future. On occasion this means glossing over pesky details and relying on simple generalizations, such as lumping together various quotes about the deficit and social security to maximize the sense of impending doom. Enriquez skips from topic to topic, relying on the fractured narrative layout (perhaps deliberately reminiscent of essayist Paul Metcalf's work) to heighten the book's sense of urgency. The facts, dates and numbers he presents are undoubtedly interesting, but in the end they don't add up to much. What's lacking is the complexity and depth that come with focused, developed arguments, the kind that provide a meaningful context for statistical information. (On sale Nov. 15)
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