HARD AMERICA, SOFT AMERICA: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future

Michael Barone, Author . Crown Forum $22 (188p) ISBN 978-1-4000-5306-3

In his latest book, Barone, a writer for U.S. News and World Report and a well-known political commentator, describes America as comprising two diametrically opposed characteristics: hard and soft. "Hard America" is characterized by competition and accountability, while "Soft America" attempts to protect its citizens through government regulation and other social safety nets. While Barone's book is not without its political overtones—he identifies Hard America with the political right and Soft America with the left—his book should not be seen as the latest installment in the conservative-liberal cultural wars. Rather, Barone provides a deeper look at the way in which ordinary people live and work and the meaning behind the decisions they make. His concrete historical examples highlight the advantages and disadvantages of Hard and Soft America, creating a compelling picture of two very different ways of looking at the world, without degenerating into mudslinging or name-calling,. Although Barone, a conservative, clearly favors Hard America, he appreciates the necessary difficulty that comes with balancing the two Americas. He concedes that a society without some softness would be a cruel one, but warns that "we have the luxury of keeping parts of our society Soft only if we keep enough of it Hard." Despite his conservatism, Barone (The New Americans ) writes with moderation and insight. Even those who do not agree with his normative conclusions can enjoy his thought-provoking and perceptive analysis. Agents, Lynn Chu and Glen Hartley. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Paperback - 188 pages - 978-1-4000-5324-7
Ebook - 87 pages - 978-1-4000-8119-6
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