A Cross-Country Quest for a Generation
Email this review


 The group of Americans sometimes known as the ``Brady Bunch generation'' comes of age--to find that the real world little resembles the idealized version shown on TV. Investigating young adults' concept of the American Dream, Cohen, a 28-year-old Harvard Law graduate, traveled across the US, interviewing 161 of the nation's 40 million-plus individuals in their 20s. He chose to focus on the American Dream because of all the media predictions that twentysomethings won't be able to achieve it--and because the ``American Dream is a Rorschach test for our individual and national psyches, a blank screen onto which we project our personal and collective hopes and aspirations.'' But though he spoke with an impressive cross-section of society--from married couples living on military bases to a homeless man begging on the streets--and included people of various races and religions, Cohen fails to provide conclusions of any real impact. He finds that younger adults want more material comforts, to live as Mike and Carol Brady did, and to be financially stable and secure--not exactly a revelation, admits the author: ``Who doesn't want such a life?'' Similarly, his conclusion that twentysomethings are disillusioned with government is hardly news, and his comments on the increasing statelessness of corporations and subsequent decrease in company loyalty could ring true for any other generation. In any case, Cohen's answer to all this dissatisfaction isn't--as many of his interviewees seem to want--to find a hero, but to find a purpose in life. More interesting for its sampling of viewpoints than for its conclusions as an attempted forecast of the American future.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93685-8
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993