People of Plenty, by David Potter
The author, an American historian whose interests extend well beyond the confines of his field, devotes the first half of his work to the theories of Margaret Mead, Karen Homey, and David Riesman. Piecing together a basic picture of the American personality from their work, he suggests that a theory of history ought to be formulated to give that picture depth. Amid the current enthusiasm for “interdisciplinary” effort, this is one of the best suggestions we have had yet.
Mr. Potter’s answer to the question of the sources of the American personality is to insist on the single theme of American abundance. Certainly, we have not been confronted before with quite so elaborate a treatment of this theme. Other people have mentioned it, usually to explain things otherwise apparently inexplicable, but Mr. Potter has pursued the subject of American plenty with a detective’s passion and elaborated it with a metaphysician’s zeal. He has seen it working not only in the familiar haunts of American democracy and class structure, but also in the way we rear our own children, in our world policy, in our commercial advertising.
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