Authority

Eugene Kennedy, Author, Sara C. Charles, With
Eugene Kennedy, Author, Sara C. Charles, With Simon & Schuster $25 (244p) ISBN 978-0-684-83665-2
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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""Americans do not distinguish authority, which is something good, from authoritarianism, which is something bad,"" declare Kennedy, a Chicago Tribune columnist, and Charles, director of undergraduate medical education at the University of Illinois. While that contention might have been explored well had they been able to observe their subjects closely, the authors instead apply their thesis across wide swaths of American life and work. They see marriage's authority diminished by premarital sex and domestic partnerships for gays, the family's lessened by parents who are absent from the home and who neglect to impose their values on their kids. Reminding us of the success of Catholic schools, they claim that education is damaged by relativistic trends. They call for high performance at work but suggest that downsizing diminishes employee loyalty. Business, government and religious institutions are also losing their power, according to the authors, who propose new models to supplant old hierarchies. They conclude by suggesting that the law will regain command when people recognize that justice is a ""spiritual value."" But their murky book would have been enlivened by interviews and discussion of citizen empowerment and whether the Internet contributes to or detracts from authority. (Aug.)
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