People of Plenty: Economic Abundance and the American Character
America has long been famous as a land of plenty, but we seldom realize how much the American people are a people of plenty—a people whose distinctive character has been shaped by economic abundance. In this important book, David M. Potter breaks new ground both in the study of this phenomenon and in his approach to the question of national character. He brings a fresh his...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 15th 1958 by University Of Chicago Press
(first published June 1st 1958)
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The beginning half of this book addresses the difficulties in assessing and describing “national character”. The second half explores how the specific characteristic of economic abundance has affected some aspects of American character. Potter indicates that his analysis is only a sampling and by no means comprehensive. He explores how the nation’s economic abundance affected democratic ideals, social mobility and consumption practices. The book’s ideas are well-thought out and fairly interestin...more
An interesting inquiry into the theme of abundance and its various manifestations in the American character. What prompted my interest in David Potter was a recommendation from Professor David M. Kennedy who had studied under Potter at Yale. Potter's book is not so much a historical work as psychological probe. It extends the Frederick Jackson Turner thesis about the American frontier and prosperity. A book that is well ahead of its time.
I wish I had read this book 30 years ago. Although it carries a tone of scientific theory, the principles outlined from a sociology-psychological and historical perspective, the book does reveal the nature of modern America; its legacy, pitfalls, and possible outline for the future of America.