American Vistas

Summer 2012

American Vistas

American Vistas Cover Image

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Twelve years into a new century, a kind of grimness pervades the United States. Is it just the postcrisis hangover of a stagnant job market, or have the era's upheavals and uncertainties, at home and abroad, changed something fundamental? To find out, we enlisted some of our longtime contributors.

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Table of Contents


For 36 years, it has been The Wilson Quarterly’s central preoccupation: What’s on the horizon for the great American experiment?

Steven Lagerfeld

In the 1990s, scientists declared that schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses were pure brain disorders that would eventually yield to drugs. Now they are recognizing that social factors are among the causes, and must be part of the cure.

Tanya Marie Luhrmann

A new and better approach to shaping the places in which we live has emerged just as Americans responding to the rising cost of energy begin to crowd into older suburbs and cities.

Witold Rybczynski

Though Americans see upward mobility as their birthright, that assumption faces growing challenges, with consequences not just for the size of our wallets but for the tenor of our politics.

Robert J. Samuelson

They’re long, exhausting, and sometimes appalling, but America’s raucous presidential campaigns are also testimony to the success of its continually evolving democracy.

Gil Troy

Take some favorable demographics, add a generous shot of American ingenuity, and stir in a very large quantity of natural gas, and you have the beginning of a bright new American future.

Martin Walker

In Essence

THE SOURCE: “‘The Big Sort’ That Wasn’t: A Skeptical Re-examination” by Samuel J. Abrams and Morris P. Fiorina, in PS: Political Science and Politics, April 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Voting and Vice: Criminal Disenfranchisement and the Reconstruction Amendments” by Richard M. Re and Christopher M. Re, in The Yale Law Journal, May 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Can International Election Monitoring Harm Governance?” by Alberto Simpser and Daniela Donno, in The Journal of Politics, April 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Human Rights as Myth and Ceremony? Re-evaluating the Effectiveness of Human Rights Treaties, 1981–2007” by Wade M. Cole, in American Journal of Sociology, Jan. 2012.

THE SOURCE: “What Export-Oriented America Means” by Tyler Cowen, in The American Interest, May–June 2012.

THE SOURCE: “The American Public’s Energy Choice” by Stephen Ansolabehere and David M. Konisky, in Daedalus, Spring 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Unintended Consequences of U.S. Immigration Policy: Explaining the Post-1965 Surge From Latin America” by Douglas S. Massey and Karen A. Pren, in Population and Development Review, March 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Growth of Consumer-Directed Health Plans to One-Half of All Employer-Sponsored Insurance Could Save $57 Billion Annually” by Amelia M. Haviland, M. Susan Marquis, Roland D. McDevitt, and Neeraj Sood, in Health Affairs, May 2012.

THE SOURCE: “The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?” by David J. Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz, in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Six Degrees of Aggregation” by Michael Shapiro, in The Columbia Journalism Review, May–June 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Martin Luther’s Humor” by Eric W. Gritsch, in Word & World, Spring 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Toward a Cultural History of Scholastic Disputation” by Alex J. Novikoff, in The American Historical Review, April 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Angry Words” by Tom Bartlett, in The Chronicle Review, April 6, 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Asymmetric Seasonal Temperature Trends” by Judah L. Cohen, Jason C. Furtado, Mathew Barlow, Vladimir A. Alexeev, and Jessica E. Cherry, in Geophysical Research Letters, Feb. 25, 2012.

THE SOURCE: “The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians” by George J. Borjas and Kirk B. Doran, in The NBER Digest, June 2012.

THE SOURCE: “The Enduring Madrasa Myth” by C. Christine Fair, in Current History, April 2012.

THE SOURCE: “Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and Their Unintended Consequences” by Séverine Autesserre, in African Affairs, April 2012.

Book Reviews

The Color of Friendship  Image

The Strange Story of Integration in America.
By Tanner Colby.
Viking. 294 pp. $27.95

Proud American  Image

By Robert A. Caro.
Knopf. 712 pp. $35

Cult of Youth  Image

By Thomas E. Bergler.
Eerdmans. 281 pp. $25

The Powers that Be  Image

Inside the Global Battle for Democracy.
By William J. Dobson.
Doubleday. 341 pp. $28.95

Ideal Education  Image

What It Was, Is, and Should Be.
By Andrew Delbanco.
Princeton Univ. Press. 229 pp. $24.95

A Sage’s Advice  Image

The Crisis in the Profession and the Way Back.
By Jerome Kagan.
Yale Univ. Press. 392 pp. $32

Keeping Time  Image

Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired.
By Till Roenneberg.
Harvard Univ. Press. 272 pp. $26.95

Guided by Voices  Image

Rhetoric From Aristotle to Obama.
By Sam Leith.
Basic Books. 312 pp. $26.99

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