Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA by Juan Enriquez

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future

By Juan Enriquez

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2005
ISBN: 0-307-23752-4
Publisher: Crown

An apocalyptic vision—at least for fans of America-as-sole-superpower—of a future in which the U.S. splinters into some version of Baja Canada, Jesusland and New New Mexico.

Biotech executive Enriquez channels the ghost of Marshall McLuhan, writing in prose-poemish bursts of such pleasing things as a crashing-and-burning economy and the increasing stupefaction of the body politic. “Countries that don’t think…cease to exist,” runs one complete thought, while a more fleshed-out analysis goes like this: “Some generations act like trust fund heiresses… / and spend all that previous generations accumulated. / And we seem to be living in one such period. / Thank you Paris Hilton…” Those who like their political science on the sustained-argument end of the spectrum may be puzzled by Enriquez’s rhetorical approach, the reasoning behind which may be that Americans won’t read anything presented as other than soundbite. But no matter: There’s a lot of meat on these slender bones, as Enriquez marshals evidence for his carefully announced thesis that the U.S. may one day fall apart as denizens of blue states and red, as supporters of evolution and of creationism, as ardent liberals and rock-rib reactionaries discover that they really don’t want to live in the same country. Those inclined to scoff may want to consider world history, in which homeostasis is rare, and follow Enriquez’s exercise in considering how the stars got on the flag in the first place. Any New America will be a different milieu indeed; as Enriquez pointedly notes, for instance, “While Republicans cover the most land surface, they do not generate most of the knowledge” (leave that to Massachusetts and California), and in all events changing demographics will shortly give the U.S. a very different profile in red state and blue alike.

The presentation is odd—those with short attention spans may enjoy it most—but the argument is engaging.