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The crisis of confidence; ideas, power, and…
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The crisis of confidence; ideas, power, and violence in America

by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

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I read this for a couple of reasons. One, to get an idea of what the turmoil of the '60's looked like to the older establishment liberal elites of the time, what they thought of the counterculture and the youth movements and so on. I figure Schlesinger is a fairly representative figure of that class and age, and is as good a source as any for that.

The other was to get an idea of what people were thinking the last time America faced major turmoil and social upheaval. Since the economic crash and Obama's election and all the craziness and paralysis that's ensued, I've been reading lots of stuff from past eras of crisis in America, to try to get an idea if it has been like this before, or we're in unique circumstances, or what. So this was in line with that interest, to kind of see what Establishment types were thinking after the events of '68 and everything that led to them.

Unfortunately, if this is any indication, what they were thinking is pretty much what you'd expect, and kinda trite at that. It was interesting to get a little time capsule view of what it was like to face that time and those events from a leadership position, but it wasn't particularly enlightening or insightful in its own right, and you kind of see in retrospect that all of that turmoil and concern sort of burnt itself out or was subsumed by the overwhelming mass of the 20th century consumer economy.

I guess that's valuable perspective, but you can get it almost anywhere in American history, which is rife with this sort of turmoil / burnout / quiescence cycle. ( )
  jddunn | Nov 8, 2010 |
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