The last few years have been really tough, causing many of us to ponder who we are and what our life priorities should be. On a personal level, we have been forced to weigh balancing work and family. On a national level, we are subjected to increasingly acerbic debate about who we are as Americans, and what our national priorities should be.
Since co-authoring American Ways: An Introduction to American Culture, I have given a lot of thought to American values. First published in 1984 as an English as a Second Language reading textbook, and now in its 4th edition, American Ways is designed to help non-natives understand what makes Americans tick.
My dear husband George has been after me for over 30 years to write a non-textbook version specifically for Americans, and this is it: Making Sausage: Our American Values at Work.
The purpose of this book is to remind us of what makes us “Americans”—our unique cultural values—where they came from, how they developed, and what has been their impact on our lives.
There is something truly unique about the cultural values of the United States—a power that has allowed us to accept immigrants from all over the world and enable them to become “Americans.”
What is the source of this power? Is it still working today, or have we lost our sense of common identity?
What are our ideals? Are we living up to them? Do they still matter?
These are important questions, so let’s consider them together. Join me in watching the sausage being made, as we explore the messy process of living up to our highest ideals and what makes us “Americans.”
Table of Contents:
- Chapter 1: Are we really that dumb? The past is prologue.
- Chapter 2: Entry Level Civics: What do you know?
- Chapter 3: Who are we? Do we have a common identity that transcends polarization?
- Chapter 4: What makes us “Americans”?
- Chapter 5: The Land of the Free
- Chapter 6: Colonial History 101
- Chapter 7: WE THE PEOPLE: Our Unique Constitution
- Chapter 8: Self-Reliance: The Price for Individual Freedom
- Chapter 9: Equality of Opportunity: A Mighty Aspiration
- Chapter 10: Equality of Opportunity: A Vexing Paradox
- Chapter 11: Competition: The Price for Equality of Opportunity
- Chapter 12: The American Dream: Illusion or Reality?
- Chapter 13: Hard Work: The Price for the American Dream
- Chapter 14: Culture Wars, and Rumors of Wars: What divides us now?
- Chapter 15: Chipping away at the Cultural Iceberg: What unites us?
- Chapter 16: Values, Beliefs, and Behaviors: “We’re all in this together.”
- Chapter 17: Confronting the Legacy of Slavery: The Origins of Our Discontents
- Chapter 18: Confronting the Legacy of Slavery: Repairing the House Divided
- Chapter 19: Past, Present, and Future: Patriotism is not a dirty word.
- Chapter 20: Final Thoughts: What are our take-aways?
- Chapter 21: Final Thoughts: A Call to Action
- Chapter 22: A Personal Postscript: Some Practical Advice