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American Mythos Why Our Best Efforts to Be a Better Nation Fall Short

ISBN-10: 0691138559
ISBN-13: 9780691138558
Edition: 2006
Authors: Robert Wuthnow
List price: $25.95 Buy it from $9.04
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Description: America was built on stories: tales of grateful immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, Horatio Alger-style transformations, self-made men, and the Protestant work ethic. In this new book, renowned sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines these most  More...

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Book details

List price: $25.95
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 8/3/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 304
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.968
Language: English

America was built on stories: tales of grateful immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, Horatio Alger-style transformations, self-made men, and the Protestant work ethic. In this new book, renowned sociologist Robert Wuthnow examines these most American of stories--narratives about individualism, immigration, success, religion, and ethnicity--through the eyes of recent immigrants. In doing so, he demonstrates how the "American mythos" has both legitimized American society and prevented it from fully realizing its ideals. This magisterial work is a reflection and meditation on the national consciousness. It details how Americans have traditionally relied on narratives to address what it means to be strong, morally responsible individuals and to explain why some people are more successful than others--in short, to help us make sense of our lives. But it argues that these narratives have done little to help us confront new challenges. We pass laws to end racial discrimination, yet lack the resolve to create a more equitable society. We welcome the idea of pluralism in religion and values, yet we are shaken by the difficulties immigration presents. We champion prosperity for all, but live in a country where families are still homeless. American Mythosaptly documents this disconnect between the stories we tell and the reality we face. Examining how cultural narratives may not, and often do not, reflect the reality of today's society, it challenges readers to become more reflective about what it means to live up to the American ideal.

Robert Wuthnow, a native of Kansas, teaches sociology and directs the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. He is the author of many books about American religion and culture, including "Remaking the Heartland: Middle America since the 1950s" and "Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future" (both Princeton).

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Deep Culture and Democratic Renewal
Quandaries of Individualism
The Justice of Privilege
Self-Made Men and Women
In America, All Religions Are True
Ethnic Ties That Bind (Loosely)
Saving Ourselves from Materialism
Venues for Reflective Democracy
Appendix
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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