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The Big Answer

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Challenges to American Values: Society, Business and Religion

a book by Thomas C. Cochran

(our site's book review)

Thomas C. Cochran is one of America's most famous historians. He examines the roots of America's shifting values and how current changes in American business affect—and sometimes threaten—our nation's most fundamental beliefs. Looking back over some four hundred years of American history, Cochran offers a few insights into the American work ethic, the decline of the manufacturing sector, the American standard of living, and the psychological and economic strains caused by bureaucracy and the development of industrial technology that are utterly dwarfed by any Toffler book one might choose.

We in the U.S. surely have common desires for freedom and opportunity but no cultural values are really common
We in the U.S. surely have common desires for freedom and opportunity but no cultural values are really common

Of course, it was written in 1985 and so much has changed that much that needs to be in a book such as this must necessarily be absent. But the Challenges to American Values: Society, Business and Religion book assumes that "common cultural values" exist for our nation, without explaining how we can be a diverse people and still have common cultural values. We surely have common desires for freedom and opportunity. But America represents an aggregation of countless cultures with an amazing array of values. No cultural values are really common.

So what do we do about the way old values are replaced by new ones? Cochran bemoans and wrings his hands. How about the way the transitions in the U.S. are a much bigger transition—a civilizational-sized one? Expect to learn little from this book. On the other hand, the Tofflers' books tell us not only what to do about all this, but what it's REALLY all about. See The Third Wave.