Who Are We? by Samuel P. Huntington
Books in Review
Protestant Ethic Who Are We? The Cultural Core of American National Identity by Samuel P. Huntington
Simon & Schuster. 448 pp. $27.00
Reviewed by James Nuechterlein
Samuel P. Huntington is not only a distinguished social scientist, he is a notably brave and independent one. His new book, Who Are We? The Cultural Core of American National Identity, is almost defiantly unfashionable and countercultural. In the face of dominant pieties in the academy, Huntington not only takes on a presumably atavistic subject—national identity—but offers an unapologetically traditional interpretation and defense of the concept as most Americans, against their presumed intellectual betters, experience and understand it. His analysis of our situation and his prescriptions for renewal are not without flaws, but they deserve careful attention and serious consideration.
Through most of their history, Americans have had a strong and unabashed sense of national identity. Huntington argues, however, that this instinctive patriotic urge, having come under assault since the 1960’s, may not be able to endure in its traditional form, even with the boost it experienced in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. How long will the flags continue to fly, he asks metaphorically, as that day fades from our memory?
About the Author
James Nuechterlein, a former professor of American studies and political thought at Valparaiso University, is a senior fellow of the Institute on Religion and Public Life.