Sunday, March 08, 2015

"Our Kids", a comment on the NYT book review

Today's NYT book review section has a review of a new book by Robert Putnam, "Our Kids, The American Dream in Crisis".  The book has not been read here, in fact I had not been aware of it.  It's worth looking forward to reading this book by the author of which was, for me personally, a seminal book in the importance of political science and sociology, "Bowling Alone".

The review praises the book, but not uniformly.  To quote, the reviewer writes, "What he(Putnam) omits, however - sometimes maddeningly - is a discussion of the political or economic forces driving the changes he laments". 

From this intuitive perspective, it seems that painting the picture of the state of play of inequality for U.S. children in opportunity is the point of this sociology book.  Most likely this book will not be read by many readers of James Patterson or Nora Roberts novels.  If Putnam were drawn into discussions of political dysfunction, the increasing rightward swing of the Republican party, and the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelstein, the book would have been weakened if not stained.  The readers of this book will want the lay of the land based on Putnam's research.  They will make up their own minds about the causes of the problems, and will likely be in a camp near the reviewer.  Why tell them what to think?  The reviewer also writes, "Perhaps Putnam's see-no-politics approach is a wily strategy for reaching the broadest audience".  Wily?

But what do I know at this point?  Reading the book comes next.  This is only an instant reaction to what seems like a misguided review.


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