MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS: America from Nixon to the New Century

Godfrey Hodgson, Author . Princeton Univ./Century Foundation $29.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-691-11788-1

Hodgson sets out to say some things outside "the two ruling narratives of American history over the past three decades: the liberal recessional or conservative triumphalism." Above all, he observes, "Great and growing inequality has been the most salient social fact about the America of the conservative ascendancy. It is hard not to ask whether that was not one of the conservatives' strategic goals." Yet inequality is mentioned more than discussed, while conservative mechanisms that may increase it are barely even mentioned until 100 pages later. Despite occasional flashes of insight, Hodgson, biographer of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and a scholar at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University, repeatedly muddles matters with generous dollops from those ruling narratives—such as the Democratic Leadership Council's analysis of what ailed the Democrats in the 1980s—regurgitated as gospel. Similarly, he attributes white backlash to "the noisy claims of radical black leadership" in his chapter on race, while his chapter on women blames articulate feminists not so much for antagonizing men and conservative women but for letting their middle-class "cultural" movement get in the way of a second, "primarily economic" women's movement, "silent and largely the sum of private decisions." He rightly notes that the Internet boom was built on decades of government-funded, university-nurtured research, then says, "[T]he legendary entrepreneurs deserve every bit of their fame and fortune." Hodgson inadvertently demonstrates what he seeks to explain: how inequality can grow so sharply, yet be marginalized in political discourse. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 408 pages - 978-1-4008-2595-0
Paperback - 379 pages - 978-0-691-12767-5
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