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The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  294 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The classic image of the American nation — a melting pot in which differences of race, wealth, religion, and nationality are submerged in democracy — is being replaced by an orthodoxy that celebrates difference and abandons assimilation. While this upsurge in ethnic awareness has had many healthy consequences in a nation shamed by a history of prejudice, the cult of ethnic ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton Company (first published May 1st 1991)
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Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schlesinger as a famous liberal was quite conservative in this book as concerned that a hyphened-America, or one that kept strong allegiances and identities based on the race-ethnic heritages of countries of origin that immigrated to the US, was "disuniting" us as all-purpose, general "Americans" for Irish-American, Polish-American, Mexican-American, etc.. He strongly defends a pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious identity for the US, but is critical of what we'd today call "identity po ...more
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was really interesting. It was not what I expected- I was surprised by the fact that it was not exactly what one would consider politically correct. As I was reading it, I came to find that the author, Arthur Schlesinger is an opponent of minority movements because he views them as separatist extremists. He also acknowledges that the usage of political correctness, the "corruption of history" (by some- especially the "Afro-centrics") and the manipulation of the educational system as th ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. I believe he was one of the greatest political scientists/historians in our generation. He is a fantastic writer and he is thorough in his research.

This book is probably one of the shortest he has ever written (at least of what I have read thus far) but it is no less important. It is interesting and he really gives his observations of American society and the different cultures that are in it.

I would classify this as a "must read" because it is a quick
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A definitive assessment of the state of the Union in the early 1990's, and the unfortunate rise of multiculturalist extremism and "political correctness", a quagmire from which the nation has yet to emerge. Schlesinger pulls no punches and doesn't shy away from sacred cows. You couldn't ask for a better book on the subject.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book some years ago and liked it. I especially liked the reaction of the political left when it was published: apostasy! Schlesinger was the bard of both the New Deal and the whole Camelot thing with the Kennedys. He was a Democrat's Democrat, and spent his career writing--very insightfully, I might add--about America during the days of the New Deal coalition (1930s-1980). You can imagine the gasps of disbelieving horror in the salons of New York City, or in the faculty lounges of Ha ...more
Gökhan Balaban
Along with Samuel Huntington's "Who are we?", I've been reading and revisiting parts of this book for a couple years now. Both Huntington and Schlesinger offer important insights into why humans opt for what Schlesinger calls a "protective life-raft": his way of saying that in a fragmented world, people seek cohesion, meaning, and purpose within the groups they share the most with.

It's easy to either dismiss or deride the rise of right in the last few years among North Atlantic nations, but thi
Brett Williams
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Schlesinger served the Kennedy administration, heavily involved in advancing Civil Rights. Any memory of pre-1960s America justifies his passion. Even lynching of African Americans was not illegal until Truman made it so in 1948. Images of fire hose and German Shepard attacks on peaceful black protestors or their white supporters remains a stark American memory. His book, however, is an alert to those of reason regardless of affiliation that the movement has run off its tracks. But th
Paul Brandel
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I see that Schlesinger's book is very controversial.Well count me in the the readers who loved this book.AS was btw a liberal,not a conservative or neocon.Nor did he hate black folks.I felt he was spot on about the extremes of multiculturalism.The lack of appreciation of our inherited Western Culture,which is the greatest culture in the world,bar none!
We Americans have become too PC,for example,alot of people have contributed to our nation,Asians,Indians,African-Americans,etc.But make no mistak
Steve Hadfield
This was a very good book by a liberal author on a subject that would likely make most liberals squirm because it tears apart the current and continued splitting of the people of this country into self segregated group, and being led by those that denounce segregation the most. Those that hate the term "melting pot" might have to reconsider their position.
Matthew Trevithick
Lots of food for thought here, particularly given the events of 2016 and how many of the trends identified in this book (published in early 90s) have only gathered steam and become more powerful. Much was underlined.
Sep 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Too bad the man just could not keep his own biased, bigoted opinion from spoiling this otherwise intelligent writing. Still, it is worth reading again.
Nov 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, nonfiction
Absolute crap. Wrote my undergrad thesis in opposition to everything it had to say about American history and multiculturalism. If I could give it no stars, I would.
Cooper Cooper
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the height of the “political correctness” mania in the late Eighties the late Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. got all upset about the excesses of “multiculturalists” in the United States and wrote this short but impassioned piece to zap them. It is a bit dated, but still a good book that: marshals the most telling anti-political-correctness arguments, and is (typical of Pulitzer prizewinner Schlesinger) very well written. His basic argument is this: the U.S. constitutes the greatest and most success ...more
Sagar Jethani
An immensely frustrating book. Schlesinger acknowledges the realities of white racism without recognizing its role in producing the very identity groups he bemoans. Does he imagine minority groups have self-identified because they had nothing better to do? They did so because they were unable to gain admittance into dominant culture, despite their repeated attempts to do so.
well, its important to read things with which i know i won't necessarily agree. Well written and thoughtful and thankfully short. Schles attacks multiculturalism with some decent arguments but im skeptical about his evidence...he sites extreme examples of intellectuals pushing multiculturalism and glosses over american exclusion to its Creed as mere hiccups in the constant march toward progress, that our already well in the rearview mirror.

I did find interesting the time he gives to discuss wha
Reread this as an adult: the younger me was ready to burn it. Not because of the anti pc credo throughout, I am a fan, but because of the way A.S. cherry-picked the most extreme examples to further his assessment. I cannot tell you how weary I am of the now predictable and pat response to a discussion of slavery: Africans sold each other into slavery long before the Europeans blah blah blah...It really is an inane argument folks. More importantly, the younger me hated this book for the sort of c ...more
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book is a little gem; a must read for anyone interested in one of the major (if not the main) problems presently facing the United States. Let me say this: if you're a liberal then you'll probably poop your pants and give the book a low rating for Schlesinger gives sufficient reason to doubt the doctrine that 'you' tend to so arrogantly advocate: cultural relativism. But, obviously enough (or so I would think), not all cultures are the same in value (as demonstrated by the nature of the ind ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Useful as a source on neocon reaction to multiculturalism. AS Jr's central assumption, that American was united until racist/separatist/PC/multiculturalists ruined it, in itself is flawed. While here and there he gestures towards white crimes against persons of color and the importance of diversity, AS offers up yet another white man's retrenchment handbook that misreads history, relies on reductive binaries, and clings to a mythical image of America that never existed in reality. The book's ton ...more
Chris Radjenovich
Feb 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There were many time where he contradicted himself. He would say multiculturalism in a postive light, but in the next page say it in a negative one. He talked about the horrors of nationalism creating the past, yet defended another one.

However, it was good to get a liberal and moderate-leftist criticism of multiculturalism. Especially how he said not freedom of speech, but persecuting it on the basis of "hate speech" actually gives way to the right to ban speech they deem "hateful", and they are
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wide-ranging discussion about the negative side of multiculturalism in the USA. The author feels that despite the positive aspects of treating every culture as worthy of respect, there has been a net loss in the form of kids who never learn to communicate in the standard language of their country (which is also the global lingua franca), the seeping in of a rebranded version of Separate But Equal, and ethnic minorities who are still out in the cold. Very balanced and thought-provoking.
Christian D.  Orr
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody opposed to political correctness
In this day and age of not only political correctness and multiculturalism run amok, but "safe spaces" and other such anti-American, anti-free speech abominations, the late Dr. Schlesinger's (R.I.P.) book is more relevant and frighteningly prescient than ever. Tragically, the author turned out to be overly optimistic with his prediction that cooler, more rational heads would prevail.
Randy Turner
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although written over 20 years ago, the book is as relevant today if not more. For the sake of multi-culturalism and the celebration of diversity the qualities that unite a nation are being sacrificed. This book reveals the areas where the seeds have been sown and their deleterious effects on our nation.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book talks about how Americans are too much insisting on themselves as African-American, Italian-American, Asian-American, etc. without seeing themselves so much as Americans. Any educated person is aware of this type of argument.
It's a short read, much like sitting through a lecture easily digestible. There are many good points raised in it especially against Afrocentrism. Despite the fact being twenty years old it still holds relevancy to today's world.
Jerry Mrizek
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading.
Doug Wells
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schlesinger will always be one of my favorite historians of the modern era.
Eli Kalderon
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A groundbreaking and genre-setting text in the Americanism of modality.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this for a college class. Wasn't one I would have read out of choice, but it was okay and insightful.
Harpinder Ajmani
Finest book I have read on multiculturalism. A must read for our times.
rated it it was amazing
Jul 10, 2009
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Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger, was a Pulitzer Prize recipient and American historian and social critic whose work explored the liberalism of American political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. He served as special assistant and "court historian" to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of th ...more
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“Certainly the European overlords did little enough to prepare Africa for self-government but Democracy would find it hard in any case to put down roots in a tribalist and patrimonial culture that long before the west invaded Africa had sacralized the personal authority of chieftains and ordained the submission of the rest. What the west would call corruption is regarded through much of Africa as no more than the prerogative of power.” 0 likes
“The rising cult of ethnicity was a symptom of decreasing confidence in the American future.” 0 likes
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