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1 Burnside American Studies- Culture Wars

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A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit

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A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit Cover

ISBN13: 9781593760984
ISBN10: 1593760981
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

America's citizens seem plagued by despair and frustration, much deeper today than the “malaise” President Jimmy Carter noted twenty years ago. Our political and social cultures are driven by issues morally complex and yet presented with simple-minded hostility. What's the matter with Kansas? What has happened to the once proud leader of the free world? How secure is our future? Does the republic stand or have we lost it already?

Born in 1941, novelist, critic, and teacher Eric Larsen sees his own lifetime as paralleling the arc of a national dissolution, and in three penetrating essays he describes an increasingly desperate situation. A blindness has set in, he argues, producing writers no longer able to write, professors more harmful than helpful, a replacement virtually nation-wide of "thinking" with "feeling" while the population seems unable to grasp even the remotest outlines of such dangerous, radical change.

In the tradition of George Orwell, Upton Sinclair, Paul Goodman, and Christopher Lasch, Larsen offers an impassioned critique of where we once were, where we are, and where we're very soon going if we don't watch out.

Review:

"Here, novelist and former literature professor Larsen has crafted a good old-fashioned argument-the kind that deals in reason, logic and empirical evidence-that takes on virtually everything in the current political, cultural and intellectual landscape of America, in order to figure out how the democratic republic has morphed, before his eyes, into an unthinking, unquestioning Orwellian dystopia. In three lengthy essays, Larsen diagnoses with considerable wit, outrage and tenacity the mass 'blindness' that allows politicians and newsmakers to get away with passing off lies and half-truths as fact, and academia unknowingly to embrace indoctrination over education. For Larsen, the trouble starts with television's explosion in the '50s and the consequent rise of corporate mass media, followed by the steady consolidation of government and corporate interests. While television provides an endless stream of distraction and 'don't worry about the government' platitudes, academics have misdirected their sense of social conscience into replacing traditional, intellectually vigorous studies-such as the study of literature-with an empty discipline that Larsen (among others) has labeled Victim's Studies-Women's Studies, Gay Studies, Black Studies, etc. Examining 'issues' rather than ideas and putting the group before the individual, Larsen argues that these departments teach students not how to think, but how to feel-not to question, but to accept. To be sure, Larsen's position, as well as his loud, self-righteous approach, will anger many in the government, media and university, but his theses are all backed up by clear-eyed observation, copious evidence and meticulous literary commentary. Though Larsen can be terminally repetitive (he'd probably call this 'being thorough'), and his grim prognosis for the country can overwhelm, his book is a rare intellectual page-turner: fascinating, convincing and consciousness-raising. It deserves to be read by anyone who thinks-or thinks they think-for a living." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

Eric Larsen is Professor Emeritus of English at John Jay College, CUNY. He is the author of AN AMERICAN MEMORY (1988), I AM ZOE HANDKE (1992), and THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY (2008).

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

isalisbury, August 30, 2006 (view all comments by isalisbury)
A fascinating account that runs the gamut of American culture, taking aim at everything from the Bush administration to policital correctness on college campuses and, most of all, lazy thinking.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Ryan Schnare, August 29, 2006 (view all comments by Ryan Schnare)
This book is about a culture that not only excuses lies but depends on them for survival. It is about a culture that is being programmed to stupefy. Professor Larsen's insights awaken the reader, his logic compels, his passion inspires. A Nation Gone Blind inoculates the open-minded reader against the pernicious narcosis of acquiescence.
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(7 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
E_Tollefson, August 28, 2006 (view all comments by E_Tollefson)
What a disturbing perspective on today?s national culture. It would be a challenge to put a positive spin to describe the Age of Simplification and the implications of what television and the mass media have had on America.

There are technical parallels to Professor Eric Larsen?s literary view in the Age of Simplification. The scientific and engineering communities suffer the similar challenges as knowledge-based algorithms and software tools are introduced as advanced technical solutions to help us deal with mass quantities of data and information. Simply put, as these technical solutions become more complex so do the criteria in which we measure their effectiveness.

The three essays act as a catalyst to understanding the influence corporate organizations and the mass media have on the American culture. I think America is still the greatest country on earth ? but ? for how long?
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781593760984
Author:
Larsen, Eric
Publisher:
Shoemaker & Hoard
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Social change
Subject:
National characteristics, american
Subject:
Political Ideologies - General
Subject:
POL042000
Subject:
Political Science-Political Ideologies - General
Subject:
United States Civilization 1970-
Subject:
Politics - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20060331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 15 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » Culture Wars
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General

A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit Used Trade Paper
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Product details 288 pages Counterpoint - English 9781593760984 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Here, novelist and former literature professor Larsen has crafted a good old-fashioned argument-the kind that deals in reason, logic and empirical evidence-that takes on virtually everything in the current political, cultural and intellectual landscape of America, in order to figure out how the democratic republic has morphed, before his eyes, into an unthinking, unquestioning Orwellian dystopia. In three lengthy essays, Larsen diagnoses with considerable wit, outrage and tenacity the mass 'blindness' that allows politicians and newsmakers to get away with passing off lies and half-truths as fact, and academia unknowingly to embrace indoctrination over education. For Larsen, the trouble starts with television's explosion in the '50s and the consequent rise of corporate mass media, followed by the steady consolidation of government and corporate interests. While television provides an endless stream of distraction and 'don't worry about the government' platitudes, academics have misdirected their sense of social conscience into replacing traditional, intellectually vigorous studies-such as the study of literature-with an empty discipline that Larsen (among others) has labeled Victim's Studies-Women's Studies, Gay Studies, Black Studies, etc. Examining 'issues' rather than ideas and putting the group before the individual, Larsen argues that these departments teach students not how to think, but how to feel-not to question, but to accept. To be sure, Larsen's position, as well as his loud, self-righteous approach, will anger many in the government, media and university, but his theses are all backed up by clear-eyed observation, copious evidence and meticulous literary commentary. Though Larsen can be terminally repetitive (he'd probably call this 'being thorough'), and his grim prognosis for the country can overwhelm, his book is a rare intellectual page-turner: fascinating, convincing and consciousness-raising. It deserves to be read by anyone who thinks-or thinks they think-for a living." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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