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Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identityby Samuel P Huntington
Synopses & Reviews
In his seminal work The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington argued provocatively and presciently that with the end of the cold war, "civilizations" were replacing ideologies as the new fault lines in international politics.
His astute analysis has proven correct. Now Professor Huntington turns his attention from international affairs to our domestic cultural rifts as he examines the impact other civilizations and their values are having on our own country.
America was founded by British settlers who brought with them a distinct culture including the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religious commitment, and respect for law. The waves of immigrants that later came to the United States gradually accepted these values and assimilated into America's Anglo-Protestant culture. More recently, however, national identity has been eroded by the problems of assimilating massive numbers of primarily Hispanic
immigrants, bilingualism, multiculturalism, the devaluation of citizenship, and the "denationalization" of American elites.
September 11 brought a revival of American patriotism and a renewal of American identity. But already there are signs that this revival is
fading, even though in the post-September 11 world, Americans face unprecedented challenges to our security.
Who Are We? shows the need for us to reassert the core values that make us Americans. Nothing less than our national identity is at stake.
Once again Samuel Huntington has written an important book that is certain to provoke a lively debate and to shape our national conversation about who we are.\
"In his seminal The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington anticipated the United States' battle with militant Islam. Here he turns his laser on America — or, rather, America as he thinks it ought to be. Despite its clinical tone, this book is an aggressive polemic whose central argument — that America, at heart, has been and in many ways should remain a Christian, Anglocentric country — wouldn't be out of place on many a conservative radio station. The author seeks at length to prove that the American Creed, which he defines as a Protestant-influenced ideology modeled on the British system, was the founders' original intent and remains America's best course. He then turns to many of the usual subjects — the imperiled primacy of English, the dangers of immigration and multiculturalism — to make his case. He argues that a growing divide between the patriotic working class and 'denationalized elites' will lead to internal fissures. Where those findings can lead is another question. For instance, he predicts, and also expresses sympathy for, a movement of white nativism that 'does not advocate white racial supremacy,' yet he believes that 'mixing of races and hence culture is the road to national degeneration.' The book is also marred by a number of self-contradictions; for example, Huntington draws heavily on the founders to make a nationalist case even as he acknowledges that notions of Americanism (as opposed to allegiances to individual states) became popular only after the Civil War. Exhaustively researched and occasionally inspired, this polemic remains more often filled with colorless and ineffectual writing that will provide evidence for the converted but do little to persuade the doubters. (May 27)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1998), Huntington (international and area studies, Harvard U.) argued that civilizations were replacing ideologies in post-Cold War politics. Pointing out that how Americans define themselves determines our role in the world (national/imperial/cosmopolitan), he offers a timely analysis of the historical components of US identity, challenges to it (e.g., the trend toward a bicultural nation), and the resurgence of religion nationally and globally.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In his new book, the author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order turns his attention from cultural divides to the cultural rifts in this country. The patriotic response to the September 11 tragedy only highlighted the loss of American identity here at home, says Huntington, and already the flag-waving has begun to subside.
About the Author
Samuel P. Huntington is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard and chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He is the author or editor of a dozen other books.
Table of Contents
Part I: The Issues of Identity
Chapter 1. The Crisis of National Identity
Salience: Are the Flags Still There?
Substance: Who Are We?
The Global Identity Crisis
Prospects for American Identity
Chapter 2. Identities: National and Other
The Concept of Identity
Others and Enemies
Sources of Identity
The False Dichotomy
Part II: American Identity
Chapter 3. Components of American Identity
Change, Continuity, and Partial Truths
Settlers Before Immigrants
More Than the Creed
"No Attachment to Place"
Race and Ethnicity
Chapter 4. Anglo-Protestant Culture
The Cultural Core
"The Dissidence of Dissent"
The American Creed
Individualism and the Work Ethic
Moralism and the Reform Ethic
Chapter 5. Religion and Christianity
God, the Cross, and America
A Religious People
Protestant America and Catholicism
A Christian People
Chapter 6. Emergence, Triumph, Erosion
The Fragility of Nations
Creating an American Identity
National vs. Other Identities
Nation and Patriotism Triumphant
Part III: Challenges to American Identity
Chapter 7. Deconstructing America: The Rise of Subnational Identities
The Deconstructionist Movement
The Challenge to the Creed
The Challenge to English
The Challenge to the Core Culture
Chapter 8. Assimilation: Converts, Ampersands, and the Erosion of Citizenship
Immigration With or Without Assimilation
Assimilation: Still a Success?
Sources of Assimilation
The Immigration Process
American Society: Americanization Is Un-American
Ampersands and Dual Citizenship
Citizens and Noncitizens
Alternatives to Americanization
Chapter 9. Mexican Immigration and Hispanization
The Mexican/Hispanic Challenge
Why Mexican Immigration Differs
How Mexican Assimilation Lags
Individual Assimilation and Enclave Consolidation
The Hispanization of Miami
The Hispanization of the Southwest
Chapter 10. Merging America with the World
The Changing Environment
The Search for an Enemy
Dead Souls: The Denationalization of Elites
The Patriotic Public
Diasporas, Foreign Governments, and American Politics
Part IV: Renewing American Identity
Chapter 11. Fault Lines Old and New
The Shaping Trends
The Ending of Ethnicity
Race: Constant, Blurring, Fading
Bifurcation: Two Languages and Two Cultures?
Unrepresentative Democracy: Elites vs. the Public
Chapter 12. Twenty-first Century America: Vulnerability, Religion, and National Identity
The Creed in an Age of Vulnerability
Americans Turn to Religion
The Global Resurgence of Religion
Militant Islam vs. America
America in the World: Cosmopolitan, Imperial, and/or National?
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