Putnam’s Newest is a Certain Presentation For Us at the First Friday Book Synopsis


I will never forget Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster, 2001).  It remains the most depressing book we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

It contained chart after chart, page after page, of the demise of civic, social, religious, and fraternal groups in America.  All of it was true.  If you were a fan of those groups, you hated seeing reality in your face.

That book was written by Robert Putnam.   He receives high praise from his employer, the Department of Government at Harvard University:  “Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel MalkinRobertPutnamphoto Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, and is the 2013-14 Distinguished Visiting Professor at Aarhus University (Denmark). Professor Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, the world’s highest accolade for a political scientist, and in 2012, he received the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities.  Raised in a small town in the Midwest and educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale, he has served as Dean of the Kennedy School of Government. The London Sunday Times has called him “the most influential academic in the world today.” 

Since that one, he has authored two other books that did not enjoy the same imprint:

Better Together:  Restoring the American Community – co-authored with Lewis Feldstein (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

American Grace:  How Religion Unites and Divides Us – co-authored with David Campbell (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Our Kids BookCoverOn March 10, he released his newest, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2015).  As of this writing, it has flown to the top of the best seller lists.  On Amazon.com, it ranks:

What is this one about?  Classes in America do exist.  And, they have an impact in many areas of our lives.  Members of lower classes have great difficulty competing with members of classes above them.  This book does not simply give that idea – it develops and documents it.

You can read a full review of the book by Jason DeParle published in the New York Times on March 4, 2015 by clicking here.  A key phrase from that review gives a clue:  “…the state of upward mobility. Widening income gaps, he argues, have brought profound but underappreciated changes to family life, neighborhoods and schools in ways that give big advantages to children at the top and make it ever harder for those below to work their way up.

As with his previous best-seller, reality may not be pretty.  It is not fun to recognize what is actually true.

I don’t know what month we will present this one, or who will deliver it.  But, we have waited for a blockbuster by Putnam for quite some time.

Here it is.  Look for an announcement about it in our advertising in the months to come.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Putnam’s Newest is a Certain Presentation For Us at the First Friday Book Synopsis

  1. Putnam did not write this as a textbook, but I could certainly see this being adopted in some upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level courses in political science, public administration, or economics. Its length (400 pages) could be a deterrent to that, but its provocative nature would lead to interesting in-class discussions.

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