The Triumph of Meanness: America's War Against Its Better Self

Nicolaus Mills, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $25 (260p) ISBN 978-0-395-82296-8
In his trenchant analysis, Mills, professor of American studies at Sarah Lawrence and co-editor of Dissent, indicts American culture for its vindictiveness in both the cultural and the political arenas. He cites many examples of ""meanness without guilt"" including the barrage of racist, sexist and homophobic language indulged in by radio talk-show hosts, retaliatory attacks on the poor by conservative politicians, large-scale layoffs of workers by corporations interested only in maximizing profits and journalistic ""attitude"" as practiced by columnists who, the author argues, rely on personal attacks on political figures rather than on objective investigation of their public policies. The author also detects a new resentment toward feminists by men in such writings as Iron John by the poet Robert Bly and Oleanna by playwright David Mamet. Although Mills's views may engender controversy, his analysis of contemporary culture is worth pondering. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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