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Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A Tale of Two Americas: This groundbreaking book shines a brilliant light on contemporary American life. Michael Barone reveals how the divide between “Hard America” (defined by competition and accountability) and “Soft America” (which tries to shield us from those rigors) explains the state of everything from our economy to our schools to the military to the government an ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by Crown Forum (first published 2004)
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Alicia Duff
The cultural elite affect the hardening and softening in America because they feel the ordinary people who don’t achieve certain level of success need soft protection. They add programs to facilitate what changes they think will make America more balanced; this is done usually by, politicians, economists, and executives.

The hardening trend that Barone describes took place during the 1980’s and 1990’s affected multiple areas like crime the welfare system and school system. There was a crack cocai
Tom Stamper
Barone begins the book by contrasting the number of incompetent 18 year-old Americans with the number of remarkably competent 30 year-olds. Why do such shallow adolescents become such productive citizens? The answer lies in the hard reality of the American economy that insists that we get tough. That reality argues Barone makes us the most productive nation in the world.

But why are they so incompetent at 18? Because the education system in this country caters to whims, social experiments and sel
Jarrett Ray
Hard America is a combination of embracing the free market and promoting competition, accountability, a feedback loop, and incentives. All in all, Hard America is the sector of society which creates wealth, establishes new technology, and puts the hard worker on top.

Primary and Secondary Education is the section of society which Barone points out has persisted for the past century as a niche of Soft America. He levels blame in several locations, but most prominently towards the NEA (the largest
Mar 27, 2008 Benjamin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political types
Michael Barone is one of the more astute political commentators we have these days, and I find him serious and trustworthy. I think this book does a good job boiling down the modern American political/economic experience to an easily digestible dichotomy. Basically, Hard America is that part of our society that demands innovation, competition, intellect, drive, ambition, and so on. Hard America plays for keeps, and if you don't watch out you'll get left behind. Soft America is that part of our s ...more
Michael Barone is incisive and specific in his assessment of the nature of competition and meritocracy in America. Although it is convenient to forget, our children are competing for position in the entire world's economy against children from other nations where they have nothing to lose. Although something will be lost by the sort of rote memorization which squelches the creativity of the Asian youth, increased rigor and accountability in our own educational system, starting with the system an ...more
Nedland P.
Excellent, but dated, book comparing the US educational system with other countries. Showing why competitive juices are stimulated by the very difficult job market faced when students transition from the academic world.

It is dated, because of the further deterioration of our educational system, and the europeanization of our jobs market and the expansion of the government sector.
A very thought-provoking book for a liberal who is still undecided about the overall benefits of 'soft' vs. 'hard' policies. It was a little dry with excessive historic examples, but the overall premise was interesting. I enjoy books that challenge my belief system. Definitely some biased examples and straw-man arguments, but a few of them were convincing.
Michael Taylor
Outstanding book. If you read one book that helps to explain the difference in philosophies and world outlooks between President Obama supporters and those opposed to him, this is it!
The idea in it is worth an essay ...maybe 30 pages that he expanded to make a book.
I loved this book! It was a quick read, was interesting and revealing.
A rather polemic read, mostly contrived Arericana rhetoric.
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Michael Barone, a political analyst and journalist, studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal coauthor of the annual Almanac of American Politics (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. Barone has also written for many major market publication ...more
More about Michael Barone...
Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan The Almanac of American Politics 2012 The Almanac of American Politics 2008 (Almanac of American Politics) The Almanac of American Politics 2006 (Almanac of American Politics)

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