The Fractured Republic by Yuval Levin
Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism

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Refreshingly optimistic; in our diversity lies great strength, Levin writes, a strength that can be tapped once all the rancor is put aside. Highly recommended for readers of whatever political stripe.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

21st century America is anxious and discontented. Our economy is sluggish, our culture is always at war with itself, our governing institutions are frequently paralyzed, and our politics seems incapable of rising to these challenges. The resulting frustration runs broad and deep: It fans populist anger while driving elites to despair. It persuades progressives that America is stuck while convincing conservatives that we are rushing in the wrong direction. It manages to make people on all sides of most issues feel as though they are under siege simultaneously.

Why should this be? And how can we overcome our frustration? In this groundbreaking exploration of America’s 21st-century challenges, Yuval Levin argues that our anxiety is rooted in a failure of diagnosis. Our politics is drenched in nostalgia, with Democrats always living in 1965 and Republicans in 1981, and is therefore blind to the profound transformations of the last half century. America’s midcentury order was dominated by large, interconnected institutions: big government, big business, big labor, big media, big universities, mass culture. But in every arena of our national life—or at least every arena except government, for now—we have witnessed the centrifugal forces of diffusion, diversity, individualism, and decentralization pulling these large institutions apart. These forces have liberated many Americans from oppressive social constraints but also estranged many from families, communities, work, and faith. They have set loose a profusion of options in every part of life but also unraveled the social order and economic security of an earlier era. They have loosened the reins of cultural conformity but also sharpened our differences and weakened the roots of mutual trust.

Building on our strengths while healing our wounds, Levin argues, would require a politics better adapted to the society we have become—a politics rooted in neither an ethic of centralized power nor a spirit of radical individualism but a regard for the potential of a modernized subsidiarity and civil society.
 

About Yuval Levin

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Yuval Levin is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the founder and editor of National Affairs. A contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and National Review, he lives in Maryland.
 
Published May 24, 2016 by Basic Books. 274 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Fractured Republic
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Kirkus

Good
on Mar 01 2016

Refreshingly optimistic; in our diversity lies great strength, Levin writes, a strength that can be tapped once all the rancor is put aside. Highly recommended for readers of whatever political stripe.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lemann on Jun 21 2016

“The Fractured Republic” is useful in helping us understand why conservative intellectuals have been so intensely opposed to Donald Trump, even though Levin doesn’t mention him (the only active politician he seems to praise by name is Paul Ryan, who has provided a blurb for the book).

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The Economist

Above average
on Jul 16 2016

Mr Levin has done conservatism a service by reining in nostalgia. His writing is precise...There is no mention of climate-change, guns, or race and policing. These may be preoccupations of the left, but a broad kind of conservatism ought to have something to say about them.

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