This book was written for anyone who wants to be free from the tyranny of stress and burnout. Burnout can affect anyone, especially in today’s world, where “The American Dream” has been replaced by the realities of a faltering economy, breakdown of the family and societal distintegration. Burnout is not a natural state, and no one should have to live with its emotional pain. Dr. Fishkin explains how to readjust couterproductive thought processes and behaviors and learn new, healthy methods for coping. He details both self-help techniques and suggested resources to reach out to the community or the workplace for assistance.
The American Dream has long been a dominant theme in U.S. culture, one with enduring significance, but these are difficult times for dreamers. The editors of and contributors to The American Dream in the 21st Century examine the American Dream historically, socially, and economically and consider its intersection with politics, religion, race, gender, and generation.
The conclusions presented in this short, readable volume provide both optimism for the faith that most Americans have in the possibility of achieving the American Dream and a realistic assessment of the cracks in the dream. The last presidential election offered hope, but the experts here warn about the need for better programs and policies that could make the dream a reality for a larger number of Americans.
Populists on both sides of the political aisle routinely announce that the American Dream is dead. According to them, the game has been rigged by elites, workers can’t get ahead, wages have been stagnant for decades, and the middle class is dying.
Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, disputes this rhetoric as wrong and dangerous. In this succinctly argued volume, he shows that, on measures of economic opportunity and quality of life, there has never been a better time to be alive in America. He backs his argument with overwhelming—and underreported—data to show how the facts favor realistic optimism.
He warns, however, that the false prophets of populism pose a serious danger to our current and future prosperity. Their policies would leave workers worse off. And their erroneous claim that the American Dream is dead could discourage people from taking advantage of real opportunities to better their lives. If enough people start to believe the Dream is dead, they could, in effect, kill it. To prevent this self-fulfilling prophecy, Strain’s book is urgent reading for anyone feeling the pull of the populists.
E. J. Dionne and Henry Olsen provide spirited responses to Strain’s argument.
Takes a hard, systematic look at the depiction of blacks, whites, and race relations in Mark Twain's classic novel, raising questions about its canonical status in American literature
Using as a gauge for analysis the historical record left by both slaves and slaveholders, the Menshes compare Twain's depiction with historical reality, attempting to determine where the book either undermines or upholds traditional racial attitudes. Surveying the opinions of fellow critics, they challenge the current consensus that Huckleberry Finn fosters rapport between blacks and whites, arguing that the book does not subvert ingrained beliefs about race, and demonstrating that the argument over black-white relations in the novel is also an argument over non-fictional racial relations and conflicting perceptions of racial harmony.
From Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben to the Jolly Green Giant and Ronald McDonald, corporate icons sell billions of dollars’ worth of products. But only one of them was ever a real person—Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken/KFC. From a 1930s roadside café in Corbin, Kentucky, Harland Sanders launched a fried chicken business that now circles the globe, serving “finger lickin’ good” chicken to more than twelve million people every day. But to get there, he had to give up control of his company and even his own image, becoming a mere symbol to people today who don’t know that Colonel Sanders was a very real human being. This book tells his story—the story of a dirt-poor striver with unlimited ambition who personified the American Dream.
Acclaimed cultural historian Josh Ozersky defines the American Dream as being able to transcend your roots and create yourself as you see fit. Harland Sanders did exactly that. Forced at age ten to go to work to help support his widowed mother and sisters, he failed at job after job until he went into business for himself as a gas station/café/motel owner and finally achieved a comfortable, middle-class life. But then the interstate bypassed his business and, at sixty-five, Sanders went broke again. Packing his car with a pressure cooker and his secret blend of eleven herbs and spices, he began peddling the recipe for “Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken” to small-town diners in exchange for a nickel for each chicken they sold. Ozersky traces the rise of Kentucky Fried Chicken from this unlikely beginning, telling the dramatic story of Sanders’ self-transformation into “The Colonel,” his truculent relationship with KFC management as their often-disregarded goodwill ambassador, and his equally turbulent afterlife as the world’s most recognizable commercial icon.
Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.
In this book, first published in 1985, Ernest G. Bormann explores mass persuasion in America from 1620 to 1860, examining closely four rhetorical communities: the revivals of 1739–1740, the hot gospel of the postrevolutionary period, the evangelical revival and reform of the 1830s, and the Free Soil and Republican parties. Each community varies greatly, but Bormann asserts that each succeeding community shares a rhetorical vision of restoring the “American Dream” that is essentially a modification of the previous visions. Thus, they form a family of rhetorical visions that constitutes a rhetorical tradition of importance in nineteenth-century American popular culture.
Bringing this little-known story to light, The House on Lemon Street details the Haradas' decision to fight for the American dream. Chronicling their experiences from their immigration to the United States through their legal battle over their home, their incarceration during World War II, and their lives after the war, this book tells the story of the family's participation in the struggle for human and civil rights, social justice, property and legal rights, and fair treatment of immigrants in the United States.
The Harada family's quest for acceptance illuminates the deep underpinnings of anti-Asian animus, which set the stage for Executive Order 9066, and recognizes fundamental elements of our nation's anti-immigrant history that continue to shape the American story. It will be worthwhile for anyone interested in the Japanese American experience in the twentieth century, immigration history, public history, and law.
This publication was made possible with the support of Naomi, Kathleen, Ken, and Paul Harada, who donated funds in memory of their father, Harold Shigetaka Harada, honoring his quest for justice and civil rights. Additional support for this publication was also provided, in part, by UCLA's Aratani Endowed Chair as well as Wallace T. Kido, Joel B. Klein, Elizabeth A. Uno, and Rosalind K. Uno.
Great Neck, New York, is one of America’s most fascinating suburbs. Since the mid-nineteenth century, generations have been attracted to this once quiet enclave for its easy access to New York City and its tranquil setting by the Long Island Sound. It became an illustrious suburb, home to numerous film and theatrical luminaries, among them Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Alan King. Famous writers who lived there include Ring Lardner and, of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who used Great Neck as the inspiration for his classic novel The Great Gatsby.
Although frequently recognized as home to well-known personalities, Great Neck is also notable for the conspicuous way it transformed itself from a Gentile community, to a mixed one, and, finally, in the 1960s, to one in which Jews were the majority. In Inventing Great Neck, Judith Goldstein recounts these histories in which Great Neck emerges as a leader in the reconfiguration of the American suburb.The book spans four decades of rapid change, beginning with the 1920s. First, the community served as a playground for New York’s socialites and celebrities. In the forties, it developed one of the country’s most outstanding school systems and served as the temporary home to the United Nations. In the sixties it provided strong support to the civil rights movement.
Inventing Great Neck is about the allure of suburbia, including the institutions that bind it together, and the social, economic, cultural, and religious tensions that may threaten its vibrancy. Anyone who has lived in a suburban town, particularly one in the greater metropolitan area, will be intrigued by this rich narrative, which illustrates not only Jewish identity in America but the struggle of the American dream itself through the heart of the twentieth century.
In the 1950s, 99 percent of adult Americans said they believed in God. How, James Hudnut-Beumler asks, did this consensus about religion turn into the confrontational debates over religion in the 1960s? He argues that post-World War II suburban conformity made church-going so much a part of middle-class values and life that religion and culture became virtually synonymous. Secular critics like David Riesman, William Whyte, C. Wright Mills, and Dwight Macdonald, who blamed American culture for its conformism and lack of class consciousness, and religious critics like Will Herberg, Gibson Winter, and Peter Berger, who argued that religion had lost its true roots by incorporating only the middle class, converged in their attacks on popular religion.
Although most Americans continued to live and worship as before, a significant number of young people followed the critics' call for a faith that led to social action, but they turned away from organized religion and toward the counterculture of the sixties. The critics of the 1950s deserve credit for asking questions about the value of religion as it was being practiced and the responsibilities of the affluent to the poor—and for putting these issues on the social and cultural agenda of the next generation.
Insightful and dramatic, Lured by the American Dream is the untold story of how Filipino servicepersons overcame tradition and hierarchy in their quest for dignity.
"Based on exhaustive research in U.S. and Mexican archives, this study offers a richly-textured history of Mexican immigrants in rural California. A work of exceptional breadth, especially with regard to repatriation, [it] is a pivotal contribution to Chicano historiography and immigration studies."--Vicki L. Ruiz, Andrew W. Mellon All-Claremont Professor in the Humanities, The Claremont Graduate School
In the first forty years of this century, over one million Mexican immigrants moved to the United States, attracted by the prospect of farm work in California. They became workers in industrial agriculture --barely recognized, never respected, and poorly paid. Native white American workers did not resent the Mexicans during prosperous times, when everyone who wanted to work could do so. But during the Great Depression, native workers began to realize that many of the Mexican workers were here to stay. Native workers, blaming their unemployment on the immigrants, joined with government officials to demand that Mexican workers and their families return to Mexico. During the 1930s, the federal government and county relief agencies cooperated in a nasty repatriation program, forcing half a million Mexicans living in the U.S. to return to Mexico.
Camille Guerin-Gonzales tells the story of their migration, their years here, and of the repatriation program--one of the largest mass removal operations ever sanctioned by the U.S. government.She documents both their efforts to resist and the overpowering forces that worked against them.
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was perhaps the most prolific black female writer of her time. Between 1900 and 1904, writing mainly for Colored American Magazine, she published four novels, at least seven short stories, and numerous articles that often addressed the injustices and challenges facing African Americans in post–Civil War America. In Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream, Alisha Knight provides the first full-length critical analysis of Hopkins’s work.
Scholars have frequently situated Hopkins within the domestic, sentimental tradition of nineteenth-century women's writing, with some critics observing that aspects of her writing, particularly its emphasis on the self-made man, seem out of place within the domestic tradition. Knight argues that Hopkins used this often-dismissed theme to critique American society's ingrained racism and sexism. In her “Famous Men” and “Famous Women” series for Colored American Magazine, she constructed her own version of the success narrative by offering models of African American self-made men and women. Meanwhile, in her fiction, she depicted heroes who fail to achieve success or must leave the United States to do so.
Hopkins risked and eventually lost her position at Colored American Magazine by challenging black male leaders, liberal white philanthropists, and white racists—and by conceiving a revolutionary treatment of the American Dream that placed her far ahead of her time. Hopkins is finally getting her due, and this clear-eyed analysis of her work will be a revelation to literary scholars, historians of African American history, and students of women’s studies.
Alisha Knight is an associate professor of English and American Studies at Washington College. Her published articles include “Furnace Blasts for the Tuskegee Wizard: Revisiting Pauline E. Hopkins, Booker T. Washington, and the Colored American Magazine,” which appeared in American Periodicals.
From 1840 to 1900, midwestern Americans experienced firsthand the profound economic, cultural, and structural changes that transformed the nation from a premodern, agrarian state to one that was urban, industrial, and economically interdependent. Midwestern commercial farmers found themselves at the heart of these changes. Their actions and reactions led to the formation of a distinctive and particularly democratic consumer ethos, which is still being played out today.
By focusing on the consumer behavior of midwestern farmers, Sowing the American Dream provides illustrative examples of how Americans came to terms with the economic and ideological changes that swirled around them. From the formation of the Grange to the advent of mail-order catalogs, the buying patterns of rural midwesterners set the stage for the coming century.
Carefully documenting the rise and fall of the powerful purchasing cooperatives, David Blanke explains the shifting trends in collective consumerism, which ultimately resulted in a significant change in the way that midwestern consumers pursued their own regional identity, community, and independence.
The ability to achieve economic security through hard work is a central tenet of the American Dream, but significant shifts in today’s economy have fractured this connection. While economic insecurity has always been a reality for some Americans, Black Americans have historically long experienced worse economic outcomes than Whites. In Work in Black and White, sociologists Enobong Hannah Branch and Caroline Hanley draw on interviews with 80 middle-aged Black and White Americans to explore how their attitudes and perceptions of success are influenced by the stories American culture has told about the American Dream – and about who should have access to it and who should not.
Branch and Hanley find that Black and White workers draw on racially distinct histories to make sense of today’s rising economic insecurity. White Americans have grown increasingly pessimistic and feel that the American Dream is now out of reach, mourning the loss of a sense of economic security which they took for granted. But Black Americans tend to negotiate their present insecurity with more optimism, since they cannot mourn something they never had. All educated workers bemoaned the fact that their credentials no longer guarantee job security, but Black workers lamented the reality that even with an education, racial inequality continues to block access to good jobs for many.
The authors interject a provocative observation into the ongoing debate over opportunity, security, and the American Dream: Among policymakers and the public alike, Americans talk too much about education. The ways people navigate insecurity, inequality, and uncertainty rests on more than educational attainment. The authors call for a public policy that ensures dignity in working conditions and pay while accounting for the legacies of historical inequality.
Americans want the game of life to be fair. While the survey respondents expressed common ground on the ideal of meritocracy, opinions about to achieve economic security for all diverge along racial lines, with the recognition – or not – of differences in current and past access to opportunity in America.
Work in Black and White is a call to action for meaningful policies to make the premise of the American Dream a reality.
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