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Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse Kindle Edition
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“The American Dream is rooted not in Washington, but in family, church, and community. Alienated America is a fascinating blend of first class reporting and studious research. Pundits on the left AND right should read this book to understand America. It explains how Trump understood the people he now serves.” (Jason Chaffetz, author, The Deep State)
“Tim Carney delivers a masterful contribution to the debate about what is driving our society’s growing divisions. Rejecting purely material or demographic explanations, he shows that the deepest disparity facing Americans today is one of community. Clear and compassionate, Alienated America offers a roadmap for the restoration of our nation.” (Arthur C. Brooks, New York Times Bestselling author of The Conservative Heart)
“America’s real challenge lies far deeper than its political polarization and class division. In losing our connections to each other, we’ve lost ourselves. In this powerful book, Tim Carney not only identifies the causes of our drifting apart, he shows us the places across the nation where people are coming together and reknitting their social fabric to thrive.” (Richard Florida, author, Rise of the Creative Class) --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
From the Back Cover
Should you be more worried about a church closing in your town than a factory closing?
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump proclaimed, “The American Dream is dead,” a message that resonated across the country. Washington Examiner editor Timothy Carney traveled Middle America, pored over county-level maps and data, and sorted through sociological studies, and had a startling revelation: Donald Trump is right, but the death of the American Dream is a social phenomenon, not an economic one.
In some parts of the United States, life seems to be getting worse because citizens are facing their problems alone. These communities have seen declines in marriage, voting, church attendance, and volunteer work. Even when money comes back to town, happiness does not return if people there do not reengage. The educated and wealthy elites, on the other hand, tend to live in places where institutions are strong, or have enough money to insulate themselves.
Carney visits all corners of America, from the dim country bars of southwestern Pennsylvania to the bustling Mormon wards of Salt Lake City, and provides the most important data and research to explain why failing social connections are responsible for the great divide in America. Alienated America confirms the conservative suspicion that these places cannot be fixed with job-training programs or more entitlement spending, and backs up the liberal belief that new Trump voters are not coming to his rallies to support corporate tax cuts or Obamacare repeal.Tim Carney will change the way you look at the challenges facing modern America and presents a framework for leading us out of the wilderness. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- Publication Date : February 19, 2019
- File Size : 2096 KB
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B075JCSX3T
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 368 pages
- Publisher : Harper; Reprint edition (February 19, 2019)
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Page Numbers Source ISBN : 0062797107
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Best Sellers Rank: #202,986 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The obvious starting point in looking at the alienated communities is: “the factory closed”. Well, yes it did, but the problem is not entirely economic. The problem appears to be that when the factory closed the surrounding area could no longer support the diners, the churches, the service organizations and even some schools—places where people could come together and interact in a meaningful way. This is the headline, if you will. Carney dives into how it happened over time (it wasn’t instant – factories have been closing for decades) and he addresses the micro- and macro- level causes and effects. He does this without looking for villains and victims—he just seems to be looking for facts and trends. A couple of examples: When working class generations of males (in particular) lose their factory jobs, they lose more than the paychecks; "[The] skills of the unskilled factory job are the skills of marriage and fatherhood." By this he means consistency, reliability and patience. On a more macro level, neighborhoods are far less economically diverse than they were a half century ago as what Charles Murray describes as “the college sorting machine” has worked to concentrate potential community leaders in upscale neighborhoods, depriving many working-class neighborhoods of these talents.
Conservative, liberal and libertarian readers will each find one or more of their sacred beliefs challenged by the research here and that is probably a good thing. For example: the conservative likely won’t care for the debunking of the notion that the poor behaviors of the working class are due to character flaws or the documentation of the decline in class mobility; the liberal won’t appreciate the discussion of the role of government in crowding out the middle institutions; and the libertarian will not be comfortable with the discussion of the role of “hyper-individualism” in upending the socially cohesive belief in “serial immortality” (which is why a soldier sacrifices for country and parents sacrifice for their children).
This book needs to be approached with an open mind, capable of setting aside prejudicial notions and biases. Books like this are especially valuable for the thoughtful way in which they dissect and present the elements of our current dysfunction. That said, Carney does point out some very high functioning communities and models—some wealthy, some not. Throughout he demonstrates the critical nature of the middle institutions and the manner in which they currently define what we like to call “American Exceptionalism”. They always have done so. The book includes some insightful quotes from Alexis de Toqueville’s “Democracy in America” (which a shockingly small number of Americans have even heard about, let alone read—although they should). Among them, from 185 years ago: "There is nothing, according to me, that deserves more to attract our regard than the intellectual and moral associations of America."
The solution chapter is the shortest, as is common with objective books like this. It is the partisan tomes that claim to have all the answers. Many readers across the partisan spectrum will not be comfortable with Carney’s “solution” which focuses heavily on the use of religious institutions to rebuild the social capital of alienated communities. He knows he will be challenged on this and steps out of his narrative to literally ask such critics: “What else do you got?” (I’m not sure where that bit of syntax came from, but there it is.) This book’s primary value is that it identifies and defines a serious social decay among the working class. A parallel would be Haidt and Lukianoff’s “The Coddling of the American Mind” which dialed in on an intergenerational problem with the upper middle class and above. Another complementary volume would be Michael Tanner’s “The Inclusive Economy” which is a more broad-based look at the structures that work to keep the poor in poverty.
My hope is that if enough people read and think about books like these, we can begin to stop vilifying each other and have some constructive dialogue leading to positive behavioral and social change—one small group at a time.
Top reviews from other countries
Good as Mr Vance's book is, I wanted to read more and by chance saw Timothy Carney being interviewed on a BBC News programme in which he mentioned his new book.
"Alienated America" presents a much broader and more in-depth perspective to what is happening in America and gives a clear insight into the places that voted for Trump, not when he was close to being last man standing for the Republican nomination but where he came first (or did very well) in the early primaries. Essentially, Trump did best in the areas where the "American dream" is dead or fast dying and faired badly where people feel they are still living it and that America is still great, even if, comparatively, they are not rich. Some, many, really conservative areas voted for other Republican nominees in the primaries but did not vote for Trump, or voted for Hilary in the Presidential election.
Mr Carney, through numerous interviews and extensive research, argues that the main cause of Trump supporters' negativity, is a breakdown of community and civic society which no amount of central or "big" government can cure. In communities where such bonds are still strong, the President found little support.
This book should be a must for those interested in the USA, its people, sociology and current affairs.