Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In a timely wake-up call to a comatose, overindulged America, Halberstam ( The Best and the Brightest ) digs for root causes of the national failure to adapt to a more Spartan, more competitive age. Living in an ``energy dreamworld'' and addicted to oil, Americans foolhardily failed to tax themselves at the gasoline pump in 1973 and '79 in response to rising oil prices, he notes. Calling the Reagan years of escalating military budgets ``capitalism gone mad'' and deeming Bush ``the education President'' in name only, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist contrasts our high-consumption, debt-ridden economy wth Japan's thrifty, pragmatic experiment in ``state-guided communal capitalism.'' His recent trips to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe yield bracing observations on the unraveling of the Soviet empire and the wasteful folly of the Cold War. The thrust of this informal mix of personal and political reflections is that Americans should stop living beyond their means and scale down their inflated view of the U.S. role in the world. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
As the century winds to a close, many observers are wondering whether the United States can remain competitive. Essentially this book is an analysis of America's declining world position and how its economic dominance has been eroded by more industrious and dynamic rivals. Halberstam, one of the foremost analysts of the contemporary scene, faces the facts squarely and, while his style is not alarmist, few U.S. readers will be comforted by this sobering account of the struggle for world economic supremacy. The author admits to surprise at the absence of an atmosphere of crisis in the United States. With the publication of this excellent study, that may soon change. Essential for most libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/90.-- Ian Wallace, Agriculture Canada Lib., St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A short (224-page) series of low-key essays that offer random reflections on America's recent past rather than any systematic appreciation of what's in store for the country. Drawing on his experience as a globe-trotting journalist, Halberstam (Summer of '49, etc.) leaves little doubt that the US is losing a substantive measure of its socioeconomic power and geopolitical influence. Early on, for instance, he cites a contemporary's wry comment: ""The Cold War is over; the Japanese won."" In surveying the convulsive events in Eastern Europe and harking back to Vietnam, moreover, the author concludes that the threat posed by Communist states in the post-WW II era was more real than imagined; he fears, though, that the resources and emotional capital committed to keeping ideological enemies at bay proved unduly costly. In the meantime, Halberstam observes, Japanese manufacturers have been outhustling their stateside competitors in consumer as well as industrial markets where success now depends on advanced technologies, leaving a free press and freedom of speech as ""the last great American export."" Among other causes, he attributes the decline in US commerce to psychological factors (notably, a growing sense of entitlement on the part of a spendthrift populace) and a deteriorating educational system. The author also charges that the increasingly ubiquitous medium of TV has fostered a sound-bite culture that trivializes political debate and effectively precludes ""thoughtful civility of discourse."" But beyond the implicit suggestion that America had best get a grip on itself, Halberstam makes no specific proposals for renewal of the nation's putatively flagging fortunes. State-of-the-union jottings that, while sporadically analytic, afford a less than coherent perspective, owing mainly to their limited focus and oddly enervated tone. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.