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America the Principled: 6 Opportunities for Becoming a Can-Do Nation Once Again Hardcover – October 23, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard Business School professor Kanter (Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End) offers a sweeping prescription for restoring American ideals in this scattered book. Her six-point agenda for American leaders and the public includes nurturing innovation, promoting a work-family balance, encouraging corporations that respect transparency and the social good, promoting leadership in the public sector and respect for government, engaging the rest of the world and restoring our sense of community. When the author supports her analysis with clear and substantial examples, such as an early description of an effort to promote team-based, technology-enabled education in a New Jersey middle school, she makes a compelling case. However, the book often moves from anecdote to generalization with thin supporting evidence-in a few short pages, Kanter decries the way the Internet can undermine relationship skills without fully elaborating her point or considering the potential community-building benefits of online interaction. The author draws persuasively on her immense experience, especially in chapters about work life and corporate management, but the book frequently reads like a pep talk for the like-minded. (Oct. 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“This fine book is both optimistic and realistic. It makes two important points: America is still capable of constant renewal and world leadership. To do that, we need innovative, competent, principled leadership in government, business, and civil society. Then she tells us how to do it!”
—Bill Clinton

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is not only a Harvard professor with a capacious mind, she is also a leader with a noble heart. Here she brings both to bear in thinking through our current troubles as a people and how to fix them. America the Principled is brimming with smart ideas and every presidential candidate should read this book If we did only half of them, the country would get back on a winning streak - and be a lot happier, too!"
David Gergen, editor-at-large, U.S. News & World Report and White House counselor to four U.S. presidents
"MUST READING for any current and future presidential candidates (and their consultants), and for the rest of us concerned about the possibilities and promises of our country's future. Kanter combines tough analytical skills with practical strategic steps to create a better, more decent world."
Warren Bennis University Professor, University of Southern California, and author of On Becoming a Leader

“A book of heart, soul, and substance, brimming with practical ideas for restoring the idea and practice of community. It’s a powerful palliative for America the Disconnected.”
Arianna Huffington, founder and editor, HuffingtonPost.com

“Rosabeth Moss Kanter urges America to restore itself by investing in its own people, retreating from right-wing fundamentalist ideologies, and returning to open-society principles. A must-read for anyone seeking an optimistic response to our troubled times.”
—Norman Pearlstine, senior adviser, Carlyle Group; former editor-in-chief, Time Inc.; and former managing editor, The Wall Street Journal

“This is the business version of The Little Engine That Could. Dr. Kanter never gives up—here is her positive, optimistic strategy for America. I loved this book.”
—Donna E. Shalala, president, University of Miami, and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

“A timely and timeless book on innovative leadership in America . . . A powerful and compelling analysis . . . America the Principled is a tour de force and a must-read for corporate America, government officials, and everyday citizens.”
—Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard Law School professor, and director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice

“Brilliant and inspiring ideas that will help get America moving in the right direction. This lively, must-read book offers fresh, clear thinking about how we can recapture American traditions of openness and opportunity.”
—Cathie Black, president, Hearst Magazines, and author of Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)

“Kanter’s pep talk to America is brimming with optimism at a time of so much pessimism. Restoring American confidence will not be easy, but Kanter provides a road map to success.”
—Alan Dershowitz, author of Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,242,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I hope this book will be widely read, debated, and followed.

If you have long been a fan of Rosabeth Moss Kanter's wonderful books about how to make organizations and individuals more effective, please realize that in America the Principled she has taken on an expanded charter -- to create a vision for what must be done for American society to perform at its best. This book is built from the thinking behind Professor Kanter's many articles on national affairs for Knight-Ridder.

Since Peter Drucker died, I've been hoping one of our great management thinkers would step forward to take over for the many visionary articles and books he wrote that gave us a pathway to social improvements. If I had to pick one person best suited to picking up his mantle, it would be Professor Kanter. I was very excited to see that she had written this book.

The book makes six prescriptions (Professor Kanter calls them opportunities) that can be followed to fulfill the promise of the American dream and the best of American values. Let me briefly describe those prescriptions:

1. Advance economic potential by doing more to encourage technological innovation to solve our most important national challenges (such as reducing the use of imported oil and making security less intrusive) and to apply such innovation broadly throughout education and health care.

2. Improve family life by shifting away from people sacrificing families and personal lives for work. She effectively points out how rigid ideas about career keep many well-educated women from making their full contribution after their families need less of their time.

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Format: Hardcover
After I highly recommended Kanter's previous book, Confidence, to just about everyone, I was delighted to see a new book by this author. But as I read, I found myself wondering why Kanter wrote this book at all.

"Principled" does not draw on Kanter's considerable expertise in sociology and management. Instead, we get a series of generalizations about what's wrong with America. For example, Kanter says she doesn't blame the doctors and nurses for the horrors of health care. She doesn't even blame the payment systems. Rather she blames the "system."

But what's the system and how do you fix it? Kanter cites specific examples of medical institutions that appear to be working. It's not clear how these unique innovations will change the whole system.

I'd agree that the educational system is also broken. Kanter describes IBM's program to encourage retirees to become teachers through financial incentives. But the real problems tend to be related to bureaucratic school districts (one third grade teacher tells me she's evaluated on bulletin board design), teacher training that most find irrelevant and of course low salaries in all but the top districts..

In a confusing chapter on the role of government, Kanter calls for increased respect for government but then goes on to point out ethical failures. The best part of the chapter (and maybe the book) includes analysis of how things go wrong: everybody wants to make the boss look good and they're under subtle pressure to be yes-people. Kanter draws on her own expertise and it works...all too briefly.

But Kanter stops short of analyzing why all these systems are not working. She doesn't discuss or even recognize the values behind US failures. For instance, Americans value decisiveness.
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Format: Hardcover
Rosabeth Kanter, who has authored many outstanding books, has written a another remarkable one - in any sense of the word. Remarkable, among other things, because it is equally relevant for a top manager and an employee, for a public and a private organizations, for a young and an older person - indeed for everyone. The reason being: Bringing America back to greatness is everyone's responsibility, and Kanter shows the way in six extraordinarily well written sections. With a deep insight into complex issues, a refreshing non-academic style, and an irrepressible optimism, she identifies what ails the nation and, most importantly, points to ways to overcome the ailments. As she says, 'All the elements for significant change are already in place . . . but are largely unrecognized.' Her invaluable contribution with this book is to make us recognize the elements of change in a way that inescapably begs of everyone who cares about America to do his or her part. A remarkable feat on a mere 260 eyeopening and entertaining pages. This book should be on everyone's table in 2008.

Torben Riise, business exec & freelance writer, 1/13/2008
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