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The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America (Aristocracy & Caste in America) Paperback – September 10, 1987

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  • The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America (Aristocracy & Caste in America)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

E. Digby Baltzell (1915-1996) was professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Protestant Establishment Revisited and Philadelphia Gentlemen.
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Product Details

  • Series: Aristocracy & Caste in America
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300038186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300038187
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a serious analysis of class in America. If you are interested in understanding America and how it got that way, The Protestant Establishment should be on your reading list. Baltzell coined the term WASP, and broke new ground in other, more important ways in this book.
Baltzell is a very astute observer with a talent for a phrase, so the book is very readable. It's not particularly dated in style or content. However, it is a lengthy, serious study.
Though originally published in 1964, the insights endure to today. (Perhaps because the class structure endures.) Those interested in sociology, culture or an informed understanding of history or society will enjoy this book.
In summary ... "The book may actually hold more interest today than when it was first published. New generations of readers can resonate all the more to this masterly and beautifully written work that provides sociological understanding of its engrossing subject"--Robert K. Merton, Columbia University
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A very interesting classic of sociological analysis of class and status in the United States. Very well written, perhaps a little boring when reporting details about people not very much known to europeans nowadays. I was lead to read it after having read Santayana's "The Genteel Tradition" and I was not disappointed.The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America
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This classic work should be read in tandem with its update written about 30 years later. Few analysts are as qualified as Baltzell to write about the American class structure and how it has changed over the volatile years of the late 20th century.

The original work was almost the only text avalable to serious sociology students of social differentiation at the time it was written in the 1960's and it is still the best work on class origins' effects on social values in this country, even today.
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Baltzell--for film connoisseurs: he's Whit Stillman's godfather!--is an outstandingly brave and independent thinker; as far as I know, the only sociologist worth reading besides De Tocqueville, after whom he explicitly takes. It is an indispensible work--i.e. for anyone: since how the honor and manners of the great work or don't work determines the fate of all--as Baltzell seems to be among only a handful of people to understand. If you read only one of Baltzell's books, I recommend Philadelphia Gentlemen--and not only because I am a Philadelphia Gentleman: it has the same caste vs. aristocracy reasoning in it, but it's stronger on the metropolitanization of the establishment and the bad effects of that. (Think The Good Shepherd maybe.) And it's not as hard on caste, I think. The best insight in here is, I think, that the absence of an establishment compels the powerful to be forever on campaign; they have no security and so can't lead but are forever pandering and pandering just to keep afloat--or they retreat into a padded private world since there's no framework for their leadership.

The only dumb, or, perhaps, intellectually cowardly, feature of this book--and, again, I think Philadelphia Gentlemen is better on this point--is that Baltzell is forever urging the caste-ly to be more aristocratic-assimilationist without even addressing the question of why it should have to be, how and why it was ever put in the position of needing to do this or die: in other words, why was immigration so great and so variegated? Who let it be so? Wouldn't things have been better if not? Well, he does answer that one implicitly at least: he seems to regard ethnic quotas as wicked but he never says why. Wouldn't putting up the proverbial drawbridge for a time help assimilation?
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Engrossing and immersive journey into the heart of America's social elite around the turn of the century. Baltzell writes about status and wealth as convincingly as any academic.
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