by Georgie Anne Geyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 23, 1996
Despite its serious deficiencies, an alarming report on the decline of citizenship and cultural unity in America, and its causes and possible consequences for the country. A syndicated columnist and respected foreign policy analyst, Geyer (Waiting for Winter to End, 1994, etc.) brings her well-honed conservative journalistic instincts to bear on domestic America and the current crisis over what she calls the ""death of commitment to the whole . . . the weakening of the citizenship bond."" This crisis, she argues, is merely an extension of the decline in nationalism around the world. But after plotting the decay of the American ideal of citizenship set forth by Thomas Jefferson and the ""blessed founding fathers,"" Geyer's attention focuses less on the society at large than on the effect on the nation of waves of recent immigrants. Well-documented chapters discuss such matters as our porous borders, through which millions of illegal aliens slip each year, and the ill-conceived campaigns to give non-citizens the right to vote in local elections. Geyer fingers the causes of such woes, including an overwhelmed and underfunded immigration service, politically correct forces which have handcuffed the institutions that foster assimilation, and liberal endowments like the Ford Foundation, which indiscriminately fund pro-immigration activists unrepresentative of minority communities. More liberal readers, however, may find themselves alienated by the conservative line Geyer takes on these controversial issues. There is also a streak of exaggerated pessimism running through the book, which borders on old-fashioned grumpiness: The author repeatedly announces the decline of America and at various times attributes it to '60s rock, youth culture, Elvis sightings, even the Internet (whose users, she generalizes absurdly, are replacing national allegiance with faith in an electronic global village). Such excesses cloud the effectiveness of an otherwise provocative analysis of a critical problem.
Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1996
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996
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