By Louis Menand
At every one step of this trip via American cultural heritage, Louis Menand has an unique aspect to make: he explains the true importance of William James's apprehensive breakdown, and of the anti-Semitism in T. S. Eliot's writing. He unearths the explanations for the striking advertisement successes of William Shawn's New Yorker and William Paley's CBS. He uncovers the relationship among Larry Flynt's Hustler and Jerry Falwell's evangelism, among the atom bomb and the Scholastic flair attempt. He locates the significance of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, Pauline Kael, Christopher Lasch, and Rolling Stone journal. And he lends an ear to Al Gore within the White residence because the Starr document is ultimately awarded to the general public.
Like his severely acclaimed bestseller, The Metaphysical membership, American Studies is highbrow and cultural historical past at its most sensible: online game and indifferent, with a powerful interest concerning the political underpinnings of rules and concerning the purposes profitable rules insinuate themselves into the tradition at huge. From considered one of our top thinkers and critics, recognized either for his "sly wit and reportorial high-jinks [and] readability and rigor" (The Nation), those essays are incisive, awesome, and very unlikely to place down.
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Extra info for American Studies
In capitalist societies, on the other hand, the opposite seems to be the case. Periods when goods are in short supply are often periods of prosperity; and depressions usually set in when there are ‘‘too many’’ goods available. In the United States, we experienced our greatest prosperity, up to that time, during the days of World War II. Unemployment was minimal then, young men served in the armed forces while others worked overtime or held two jobs, women entered the labor force in numbers larger than ever before, and few families complained about not earning enough.
Throughout their histories, all capitalist countries without exception have been plagued by the continuous succession of periods of recession, depression, recovery, prosperity, recession, depression—and so on in perpetual, unending economic cycles. Does all this mean that such business cycles are characteristic of capitalist societies and of capitalist societies alone? Indeed, this is precisely what is meant here. But, to be sure, that certainly could not and does not imply that living standards of average citizens are therefore higher under other economic systems.
When such a situation occurred, as indeed it often did, the planning authorities would have investigated whether the inability to cover costs was due to inefficiency and, if so, they would have tried to remedy the situation. If this involved the replacement of workers by machines, the workers would have been retrained at the company’s (read: the state’s) expense, without a day’s loss of pay, until they could start their new jobs. If the reason for the failure to operate profitably lay elsewhere (say, for instance, increasing cost of raw materials or fuels), and if the planners did not choose to raise consumer prices or shift capital elsewhere, the enterprise would probably have been given government subsidies or a bank loan.
American Studies by Louis Menand