AMERICA AT MID CENTURY by Andre Siegfried

AMERICA AT MID CENTURY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Professor Siegfried is pushing 80, but his memorable America Comes of , published in 1927, is still remembered, and what he has to say in this new appraisal of the American scene will be read with interest, concern and a salutary degree of indignation. A few such statements as these I quote will be lifted and argued: ""In the American environment demagoguery does not lead to revolution- it rather acts as a vaccine""; ""As Europe exists it must be defended but were it to disappear one may be sure America would consider it a cause of relief""; and -- in discussing the degeneration of the national spirit to a measure of exclusivism operating in ""an atmosphere of police supervision""...resulting in ""a certain optimum already left behind"", etc. etc. There's plenty of tart cynicism in much of what he has to say- and plenty more that makes one weigh one's own too ready assumptions. He views the American scene against a past that Americans too readily forget:- our geographic heritage; our heritage of people- color, race, tradition; the religious aspects in the American make-up, essentially Protestant and Calvinist, separate from state but not from society. Speaking as a Frenchman, and doubtless as a Catholic, some of his assumptions in this particular will rouse the ire of readers. He sees a nation less stable now than a half century ago, accepting standardization and conformity as a way of life, open to the pressures of publicity and propaganda techniques. His analysis of the labor situation is perhaps less informed than it should be- for here again some of his assumptions should be challenged, as will also some of his conclusions on the contemporary political scene. But the book has a healthy positiveness of approach that makes one do a bit of reappraisal of values. For students of economics -- and for that audience that seems to relish books that take issue with the American scene.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1955
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace