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American Culture in Peril

Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan rode a wave of patriotism to the White House by calling for a return to what he considered to be traditional American values—personal liberty, free markets, and limited government. After the cultural struggles and generational clashes of the 1960s and 70s, it appeared that many Americans were eager to abide by Reagan's set of core American principles. Yet, despite Reagan's continuing popularity, modern America remains widely perceived as a nation weakened by its divisions. While debates over cultural values have been common throughout the country's history, they seem particularly vitriolic today. Some argue that these differences have resulted in a perpetually gridlocked government caught between left and right, red states and blue. Since the American Founding, commonly shared cultural values have been considered to be the glue that would bind the nation's citizens together. However, how do we identify, define and interpret the foundations of American culture in a profoundly divided, pluralistic country?

In American Culture in Peril, Charles W. Dunn assembles top scholars and public intellectuals to examine Reagan's impact on American culture in the twenty-first century. The contributors assess topics vital to our conversations about American culture and society, including changing views of the family, the impact of popular culture, and the evolving relationship between religion, communities, and the state. Others investigate modern liberalism and the possibilities of reclaiming a renewed conservatism today. American Culture in Peril illuminates Reagan's powerful legacy and investigates whether his traditional view of American culture can successfully compete in postmodern America.


Hadley Arkes

Paul A. Cantor

Allan Carlson

Jean Bethke Elshtain

Charles R. Kesler

Wilfred M. McClay

Ken Myers

About the Authors

Charles W. Dunn, distinguished professor of Government at Regent University, is the editor of The Enduring Reagan and The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA.


"Hadley Arkes is the Edward N. Ney Professor of American Institutions at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1966. Among his books are The Philosopher in the City, First Things, Beyond the Constitution and Natural Rights & the Right to Choose. His most recent book is Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, National Review, First Things (the journal), The Claremont Review, and he writes a regular column for the web journal The Catholic Thing. Arkes has been a fellow of the Wilson Center of the Smithsonian, the visiting Leavey professor at Georgetown, a visiting professor of public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School, and the Vaughan fellow in the Madison Program at Princeton University. His B.A. is from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Paul Cantor is the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia. His books include Shakespeare's Rome: Republic and Empire (Cornell), Creature and Creator: Myth-Making and English Romanticism (Cambridge University), Shakespeare: Hamlet (Cambridge University), Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization (Rowman and Littlefield) and Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture (Open Court). His writings have appeared in the Weekly Standard, Reason, and the Claremont Review of Books. He received the Ludwig von Mises Prize for Scholarship in Austrian School Economics and served on the National Council on the Humanities from 1992-99. He holds an A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Allan Carlson is President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Political Science and History at Hillsdale College. His books include Family Questions: Reflections on the American Social Crisis (Transaction Publishers), The 'American Way': Family and Community in the Shaping of the American Identity (ISI Books), and Conjugal America: On the Public Purposes of Marriage (Transaction Publishers). President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the National Commission on Children, where he served from 1988 to 1993. His interview appearances include PBS News Hour, NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Voice of America, ABC, CBS, and NBC News, MSNBC, CBN, CNN, C-SPAN, Australian, Czech and Polish TV, eight special PBS productions on family issues, and over 400 regional radio and television outlets. He holds an A.B. from Augustana College and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Jean Bethke Elshtain is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor at the University of Chicago and the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom at Georgetown University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and she has served on the Boards of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the National Humanities Center. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and has received nine honorary degrees. In 2002, Elshtain received the Frank J. Goodnow award, the highest award for distinguished service to the profession given by the American Political Science Association. In 2006 President George W. Bush appointed her to the Council of the National Endowment of the Humanities. She has delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, joining a group that includes William James, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr. In 2008, Elshtain received a second presidential appointment to the President's Council on Bioethics. She has published over 500 essays and authored and/or edited over 20 books, including Democracy on Trial, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, Augustine and the Limits of Politics, and " Sovereignty: God, State, Self, and The Meaning of Marriage. She holds an A.B. from Colorado State University, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University,

Charles Kesler is the Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. He served as director of CMC's Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World from 1989 to 2008. He serves as the Claremont Review of Books, and as a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. His edition of The Federalist Papers, published as a Signet Classic by Penguin-Putnam, Inc., is the best-selling edition in the country. He is co-editor, with the late William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought (Harper & Row). His articles on contemporary politics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Policy Review, National Review, Weekly Standard, and other journals. He received his A.B., A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Bill McClay is the Sun Trust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as the William E. Simon Distinguished Visiting Professor in School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University. His other faculty appointments include positions at Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Dallas. He has written several books, including The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America (North Carolina), The Student's Guide to U.S. History (ISI Books), Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Public Policy in America (Woodrow Wilson Center, Johns Hopkins University Press), and Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company). He is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and senior fellow of the Trinity Forum. He obtained an A.B. from St. John's College (Annapolis) and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

Ken Myers is President & Executive Producer of Mars Hill Audio, an organization committed to producing creative audio resources that engage Christians in thought concerning cultural issues. He conducted his first radio interview in college at 19: his guest was Johnny Cash. Myers contributes to several publications including The Wilson Quarterly, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, First Things, and Touchstone. He has also written a book, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes (Crossway Books), which discusses Christians and popular culture. His former positions include editor and producer at National Public Radio, executive editor for Eternity, and editor of This World magazine. He also served on the Arts on Radio and Television Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts. He has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Maryland and M.A.R. from Westminster Theological Seminary."—

""Thought-provoking and well-written. American Culture in Peril will interest readers interested in Ronald Reagan, religion and politics, the 'culture wars,' and modern American society."—Andrew E. Busch, Crown Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College"—

""American Culture in Peril is a thoughtful volume that will give rise to thought in its readers."—Harvey C. Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University"—

University Press of Kentucky

9780813136028 : american-culture-in-peril-dunn-kesler-arkes
184 Pages
$60.00 USD

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The Enduring Reagan

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The Presidency in the Twenty-first Century

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The Future of Religion in American Politics

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