THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: The Findings of the 1970 Census by

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: The Findings of the 1970 Census

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Of course social scientists like Vance Packard have been doing this sort of thing for years -- using national statistics to tell us who we are, where we've been, where we're going, why, and how much. It might as well be stated as quickly and directly as possible that the sociologists do it with rather more success than amateurs like Kahn, a journalist who seems mesmerized by the mere existence of social data and totally unaware of the inadequacies of quantification. Kahn reports, for instance, that ""At the start of the decade, 7.5 percent of all American blacks had been illiterate, and at the end of it only 3.6 percent."" Nothing about the illiteracy of such figures themselves. In fact, Kahn's only editorial comments are either banal (""Most Americans die in December and January, a chill-ling statistic that all by itself would justify a mass migration of the old to regions with year-round warm weather"") or embarrassing (""It may have elated white liberals to learn that, although black women still had a higher fertility rate than whites, their production of children had been more sharply curtailed""). And the final chapter, ""Summing Up,"" tells us, among other reductive observations, that ""The returning sons and daughters. . .will only rarely elect to till the soil"" (who these returning children are is not clear -- but Kahn is a writer and will have his way with words), that the service (as opposed to blue-collar) industries are advancing, that women are becoming ""an increasingly significant factor in our labor force,"" etc. To be charitable, this is a bad book by the wrong person.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1973
Publisher: Weybright & Talley--dist. by McKay