WHY WE BEHAVE LIKE AMERICANS by Bradford Smith

WHY WE BEHAVE LIKE AMERICANS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As a rejoinder to the many critiques denigrating American culture -- its emphasis on materialism, its acquisitive nature, its anti-intellectualism, and its barbarian lack of interest in the Arts -- the author attempts a delineation of our national character which is at once overly-eulogistic but inspiring. Employing the central concept from his A Dangerous Freedom he maintains that ""voluntary association"" is a fundamental and pervading trait in our politics, social life, work, leisure. Our desire to be liked, to be accepted, to be recognized is the core and it overrides lust for money as an end in itself. In this sense we are not ""materialistic"" since we view money as an instrument for being liked. The earmarks of our country are abundance and freedom- a freedom which opposes too much government yet recognizes it as a necessary evil. If we have sacrificed intellectual pursuits to pragmatic ones we have gained world recognition for our unmitigated egalitarianism and our generosity. The question of the Arts, the most controversial and, perhaps, vulnerable, has been greatly overwrought -- American art is rising; the mass media are not that bad. In a word the critics have failed to observe the intrinsic health that is America. In this tone Mr. Smith discusses language, marriage, child-rearing, education, etc...and, recognizing the contrarieties in our basic assumptions and our inadequacies, lauds the American. While the book is written for the same audience of The Lonely Crowd, we venture that its appeal will be broader in scope but more limited in sales.

Publisher: Lippincott