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Born Losers A History of Failure in America

ISBN-10: 067402107X
ISBN-13: 9780674021075
Edition: 2005
Authors: Scott A. Sandage
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Description: What makes somebody a Loser, a person doomed to unfulfilled dreams and humiliation? Nobody is born to lose, and yet failure embodies our worst fears. The Loser is our national bogeyman, and his history over the past two hundred years reveals the  More...

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Book details

List price: $24.00
Copyright year: 2005
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 4/30/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 384
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.276
Language: English

What makes somebody a Loser, a person doomed to unfulfilled dreams and humiliation? Nobody is born to lose, and yet failure embodies our worst fears. The Loser is our national bogeyman, and his history over the past two hundred years reveals the dark side of success, how economic striving reshaped the self and soul of America. From colonial days to the Columbine tragedy, Scott Sandage explores how failure evolved from a business loss into a personality deficit, from a career setback to a gauge of our self-worth. From hundreds of private diaries, family letters, business records, and even early credit reports, Sandage reconstructs the dramas of real-life Willy Lomans. He unearths their confessions and denials, foolish hopes and lost faith, sticking places and changing times. Dreamers, suckers, and nobodies come to life in the major scenes of American history, like the Civil War and the approach of big business, showing how the national quest for success remade the individual ordeal of failure. Born Losers is a pioneering work of American cultural history, which connects everyday attitudes and anxieties about failure to lofty ideals of individualism and salesmanship of self. Sandage's storytelling will resonate with all of us as it brings to life forgotten men and women who wrestled with The Loser--the label and the experience--in the days when American capitalism was building a nation of winners.

Scott A. Sandage is Associate Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University.

List of Illustrations
Prologue: Lives of Quiet Desperation
Going Bust in the Age of Go-Ahead
A Reason in the Man
We Are All Speculators
Central Intelligence Agency, since 1841
The Big Red Book of Third-Rate Men
Misinformation and Its Discontents
The War for Ambition
Big Business and Little Men Epilogue: Attention Must Be Paid
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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