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Publisher's Summary

From the author of Bowling Alone and Our Kids, a “sweeping yet remarkably accessible” (The Wall Street Journal) analysis that “offers superb, often counterintuitive insights” (The New York Times) to demonstrate how we have gone from an individualistic “I” society to a more communitarian “We” society and then back again, and how we can learn from that experience to become a stronger, more unified nation.

Deep and accelerating inequality; unprecedented political polarization; vitriolic public discourse; a fraying social fabric; public and private narcissism - Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: This is the worst of times.

But we’ve been here before. During the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarized, and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However, as the 20th century opened, America became - slowly, unevenly, but steadily - more egalitarian, more cooperative, more generous; a society on the upswing, more focused on our responsibilities to one another and less focused on our narrower self-interest. Sometime during the 1960s, however, these trends reversed, leaving us in today’s disarray.

In a sweeping overview of more than a century of history, drawing on his inimitable combination of statistical analysis and storytelling, Robert Putnam analyzes a remarkable confluence of trends that brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again. He draws inspiring lessons for our time from an earlier era, when a dedicated group of reformers righted the ship, putting us on a path to becoming a society once again based on community. Engaging, revelatory, and timely, this is Putnam’s most ambitious work yet, a fitting capstone to a brilliant career.

©2020 Robert D. Putnam. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Interesting.

PBS referred me to this book. it was an interesting study I guess, seemed a little overanalyzed at times. The little history lessons that were sprinkled throughout the book were good. Kind of seems like like an attempt to explain "the soul" with stats and technology. conclusion was a non radical, moderate one; target audience is definitely the middle class. as a lay reader and someone not really tearing apart this book, and just doing a quick listen, it seemed liked an admirable attempt to analyze these social changes and I enjoyed some parts.