Schrag -- most recently Out of Place in America (p. 43) which dealt with the American longhair -- is an articulate, facile...

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THE DECLINE OF THE WASP

Schrag -- most recently Out of Place in America (p. 43) which dealt with the American longhair -- is an articulate, facile in the best sense, lively social critic who is more of a scene-setter than a problem-solver. But then the problems here may well be unanswerable. This is a look at the 150 years of WASP dominated and directed culture, an exclusive preserve where the Lone Ranger, Teddy Roosevelt or Dick Diver felt fully at home, and where the once objectionable features of any minority were phased out as it mobilized upward into the great majority. Call it emulsified ethnicity. And uninflected speech and good manners, cleanliness, self-confidence, prudence and material security were all part of its cosmology. But now the old arbiters have lost their authority and old sectors and vectors have yielded to Portnoy and Mrs. Robinson, Abbie Hoffman and Norman Mailer. Schrag considers the ""new establishment"" although it seems tentative and difficult to isolate; there still are those ""patriciates"" along with Nixon, who has ""no style because he has no convictions""; and then there are all those plaid-stamped, plasticoated middle Americans versus just who -- hippies, yippies, Jews, blacks, Italians, liberals, radicals. Thus the pluralism of our society really makes it seem as if Getting it Together, the closing section, is this side of unlikely -- we are coming apart and even that upbeat last line of the book won't controvert it. Schrag is widely informed and represents an upper level kind of midthink which gives his book something beyond the entertainment value of skipping stones in Walden Pond or throwing them at the late late George Apley.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1971

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1971