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Arthur M. Schlesinger (1) [1917–2007]

This page covers the author of The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society.

For other authors named Arthur M. Schlesinger, see the disambiguation page.

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Arthur M. Schlesinger has 1 media appearance.

May
10
Arthur M. Schlesinger
Booknotes, Sunday, May 10, 1998
Arthur M. Schlesinger discusses The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society.

In 1991, when the end of the Cold War released long repressed ethnic, racial, and religious antagonisms, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote a penetrating book that raised the discussion of multiculturalism in American society to a new level. This challenging work soon became a popular bestseller and an integral part of college courses across the country. "A brilliant book," Vann Woodward called it. "We owe Arthur Schlesinger a great debt of gratitude." Since then, ethnic strife has ravaged the globe, from Europe, Asia, and Africa, to Bosnia and Brooklyn. In the The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, Revised and Enlarged Edition (W.W. Norton) Schlesinger offers a cogent look at the crises of nationhood in America and around the world. A new epilogue assesses the impact both of radical multiculturalism and radical monoculturalism on the Bill of rights. The new edition concludes with "Schlesinger's Syllabus," an annotated reading list of baker's dozen of writings that illuminate crucial aspects of the American experience. Written with Schlesinger's usual clarity and verve, the book brings a noted historian's wisdom and perspective to bear on America's vehement 'culture wars.' Schlesinger addresses the questions: What holds a nation together? And what does it mean to be an American? Describing the emerging cult of ethnicity, Schlesinger praises its healthy effect on a nation long shamed by a history of prejudice and bigotry. But he warns against the campaign of multicultural ideologues to divide the nation into separate and indelible ethnic and racial communities. From the start, he observes, the United States has been a multicultural nation, rich in its diversity but held together by a shared commitment to the democratic process and by the freedom of intermarriage. It was this national talent for assimilation that impressed foreign visitors like Alexis de Tocqueville and James Bryce, and it is this historic goal that Schlesinger champions as the best hope for the future. Schlesinger analyzes what he sees as ominous consequences of identity politics: the magnification of differences, ethnic cheerleading, Afrocentric curricula, bilingualism, speech codes, censorship. Attacks on the First Amendment, he contends, threaten the vitality of intellectual freedom and, ultimately, the future of the very groups the censors ostensibly seek to protect. His critiques are not limited to the left. As a former target of McCarthyism, he understands that the radical right is even more willing than the radical left to restrict and subvert the Bill of Rights. The author does not minimize the injustices and contradictions concealed by the 'melting pot' dream. THE DISUNITING OF AMERICA is both erudite and personal, trenchant in argument, balanced in judgment. It is a book that will no doubt anger some readers, but it will surely make all of them think again. The winner of Pulitzer Prizes for history and for biography, an authoritative voice of American liberalism, special assistant to President Kennedy, adviser to Adlai Stevenson, Schlesinger is uniquely positioned to bring bold answers and healing wisdom to this passionate debate over who we are and what we should become. —from the publisher's website (timspalding)… (more)

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