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A Visionary Nation: Four Centuries of American Dreams and What Lies Ahead Paperback – June 18, 2002
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This is, to say the least, an ambitious thesis--and yet Karabell is a good enough writer to make it worthwhile for history buffs intrigued by his notion, even if they are not ready to endorse it. (In many ways, A Visionary Nation is a competent history of what America thinks of itself.) The book takes an interesting turn toward speculation when Karabell proposes his own vision for what the inevitably forthcoming seventh cycle will hold: "The utopian vision of connectedness will dream of a society in which people focus on their own emotional growth with the same fervor, sophistication, and intensity that they now focus on enhancing the New Economy." In fundamental ways, the spirituality and communitarianism Karabell foresees in the seventh stage will be a direct response to the materialism he sees in the sixth one. If this all sounds zany, don't bother with A Visionary Nation. But readers attracted to this idea--plus fans of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s The Cycles of American History and William Strauss and Neil Howe's Generations--ought to find it fascinating. --John Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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From the preface:
"The United States is a visionary nation. Americans believe in the promise of a better world. Unlike other societies, the United States has no shared ethnicity, no common religion, no sense of historical heritage. Instead, there is an idea. Running through the currents of our history is a presumption that it is possible to have it all...."
The book summarizes Karabell's interpretation of the succession of utopian visions we have followed and then abandoned when they failed to provide us with all the contradictory things we desired, e.g. money AND happiness, independence AND community, etc. The Religion of the early Puritans gave way to Individualism and freedom in the Revolutionary period. After separation from England a vision of national Unity took hold, solidified by the Civil War. But that didn't provide everyone with everything and so the idea of economic and geographical Expansion evolved to provide opportunity for all. This was the era of the robber barons and opportunity went mainly to the few. It was also a messy period and led to the vision of Government as regulator of industry and protector of the people.
We have entered the stage of disenchantment with the ability of government to solve all problems and are presently looking to the Market and the Internet to bring us wealth and happiness. This also is unlikely to bring us spiritual fulfillment or to improve the lot of the majority, so another idea will eventually evolve. Karabell theorizes that this will be Connectedness.Read more ›