Josiah's Reviews > The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance

The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
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it was amazing
bookshelves: political-theory, education, best-of-2018

This is one of the best books I've read this year, and possibly one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read that's been written in the past twenty years. And despite it being written by a member of the US Congress, this book really has nothing to do with politics.

Given how good this book is, I'm not really going to be able to do it justice in this review. But in short, this book is about the fact that the newest generations of Americans aren't being trained in the art of wise independence, about how devastating this will be in light of the ongoing technological revolution that's transforming the world we live in, and what we can do about it.

Most books like this tend to be focused on the problem and are scant for solutions. This book is the opposite--it spends a brief amount of time powerfully outlining the problem and spends the majority of the time talking about how to fix it--which is where the energy should go IMO. It's easy to bash on problems; hard to suggest solutions.

Sasse suggests that in order to build mature adults, we need to work on doing five things better: fighting age segregation, embracing the value of hard work, travelling wisely to build experiences, consuming less stuff, reading more great books. I'm not going to summarize everything he says (that's what the book's for), but I will say that not only is all of his advice here excellent--but his section on reading actually moved me. As someone who reads 70-100 books a year, it's hard to feel more motivated about reading since I'm already pretty passionate about it. But Sasse managed to top my passion in a motivating and moving way that made the chapter on books a must-read.

Aside from this, there were several other great aspects of the book. One was Sasse's defense of "American exceptionalism," which I've tended to reject for the past eight years or so, but he re-framed and re-argued it in such a way that very much tempts me to agree with his formulation of American exceptionalism. The other part was the aspect where he talks about the fact that in democratic republics, everyone is a ruler--which means that everyone needs to be given the education we'd need a ruler to have. This section is one of my favorite parts in any book touching on education ever, and I am totally stealing this for whenever I talk about classical education.

Overall, this is an excellent book that I'd highly recommend to any parents, educators, adults, or eventual-adults out there (in other words--this book is relevant for everyone). As a high school teacher, I've been using this book for my bi-weekly high school advisory sessions this year when I'm working with my students and have found it to be excellent for this kind of purpose. This is not your normal "book-written-by-a-politician" book. This is unique, powerful, and compelling--and more people need to read this.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Excellent).
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Reading Progress

May 26, 2017 – Shelved
May 26, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
August 19, 2018 – Started Reading
September 23, 2018 –
page 107
October 20, 2018 – Finished Reading
November 26, 2018 – Shelved as: political-theory
November 26, 2018 – Shelved as: education
March 3, 2019 – Shelved as: best-of-2018

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