From Publishers Weekly
Renowned political pollster Zogby distills a lifetime of surveying public opinion into a provocative—and heartening—portrait of American attitudes toward a host of topical issues that will shock cynics who regularly pronounce on the nation's divisions, apathy and appetite for excess. The bullshit era is over and done, Zogby notes; his surveys reveal a public craving for truth rather than hype, valuing thrift over luxury and ready to accept limits on consumption. A New American Consensus is emerging, according to the author; shared economic hardships are uniting people commonly perceived to be at odds, and self-defined identities such as investor are becoming more reliable predictors of worldviews than race or gender. The author reserves particular enthusiasm for the younger generation, whose responses reveal an unprecedented embrace of diversity, sensitivity to global human rights and a willingness to grapple with complex issues—such as abortion—free from orthodoxy and with a desire to find middle ground. The American Century is over, Zogby declares, and the Whole Earth Century has begun; his intriguing claims will likely stimulate hope and continued debate. (Aug.)
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Like the data Zogby studies, reactions to his book were somewhat difficult to gauge. Several critics dismissed him as hopelessly optimistic, but they didn’t seriously attempt to debunk his data. Others offered an unqualified embrace of his vision of the future, but they didn’t provide any qualifications of their own. Perhaps the most reasonable response came from the Wall Street Journal
. Michael Barone stressed that readers should keep in mind that Zogby is an unconventional pollster who sometimes pushes the boundaries of the field; at the same time, some of the trends that Zogby identifies are difficult to deny, even if one feels relatively less optimistic about them. Critics also disagreed on whether Zogby’s prose transcends the trends: some found themselves carried along by his occasional anecdotes and concise analysis, while others found themselves bogged down in the numbers. So The Way We’ll Be
is a book about one man’s opinions about predicting the future based on many other people’s opinions. Only you can decide if that much irresolvable speculation will make your brain hurt.
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