In the book review section of this past weekend’s Washington Post, Thomas Carothers, of the Carnegie Endowment, discussed America: The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges.
Carothers says of Hedges’s new book:
“The most engaging parts of the book are the searing portraits he presents of individuals victimized in six arenas that he explores in detail: drug addiction, pornography, gambling, the criminal justice system, extremist groups and the search for meaningful, well-paid work. He takes the reader inside these issues in ways that are often telling and memorable, and sheds light on a variety of troubled U.S. cities along the way, from Scranton, Pa., and Camden, N.J., to Rockford, Ill.
“Yet this exploration of American society is unrelieved in its negativism. It is clear that in his travels around the country, Hedges never crossed paths with James and Deborah Fallows while they were researching their recent illuminating book, Our Towns, on places thriving in notable ways.”
The balance and tension between these forces–the economic, environmental, racial, cultural, public-health, and other disorders of 21st century America, on the one hand, and the other hand the civic, entrepreneurial, governmental, artistic, educational, and other forces working toward solutions–is the main theme of Our Towns.