In the tradition of Thomas Sowell and Stephen Carter, a broad cross-cultural study of how the nature of a regime affects the character of its people - is back in print for the first time in a decade. In the new millennium, people around the world are reexamining and reinventing their political systems, conscious that political choices imply different ways of life. In this newly reissued cross-cultural study, Angelo M. Codevilla illustrates that as people shape their governments, they shape themselves. Drawing broadly from the sweep of history, from the Roman republic to de Tocqueville's America to the Soviet Union, as well as from personal and scholarly observations of the world in the twentieth century, "The Character of Nations" reveals remarkable truths about the effects of government on a society's economic arrangements, moral and religious order, sense of family life, and ability to defend itself.Codevilla argues that in present-day America, government has had a profound negative effect on societal norms.
It has taught people to seek prosperity through connections with political power; fostered the atrophy of civic responsibility; waged a Kulturkampf against family and religion; and dug a dangerous chasm between those who serve in the military and those who send it in harm's way. Informative and provocative, "The Character of Nations" shows how the political decisions we make have higher stakes than simply who wins elections.
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US Kirkus Review »
Proof that even the most promising topic can be drained of meaning by a heavy-handed ideological analysis. Codevilla (International Relations/Boston Univ.; Informing Statecraft, 1992) aspires to join the great tradition of thinkers who have explored the relationship between political regimes and the character of the governed. Unfortunately, he seeks to buttress convictions, rather than acquire knowledge. Having assumed, for example, the superiority of the two-parent, patriarchal family, he sets out to selectively mine human experience for anecdotes supporting his predetermined conclusions. While this effort degenerates into predictable rantings about contemporary American politics and culture, there is a sense in which Codevilla has succeeded in this volume. The problem confronting culture warriors is that their basic themes are so familiar, it is difficult to say anything new. But if each contribution to the attack on the hated liberal establishment is read as an entry in a contest to see who can construct the most outlandish straw man, then Codevilla is both competitive and entertaining. In his view, "modern Western regimes are inherently enemies of families," perpetrating outrages such as eliminating "laws that give married men advantages in competing for jobs." According to him, the US government has made abortion "the most absolute right in the land" and is "responsible for the universities' uniform hostility to religion, to Western culture, and to America in general" - trends furthered by the fact that, with few exceptions outside the hard sciences, universities "have hired only political leftists." His tendency to condemn absolutely, eliminating all nuance or complexity from social analysis, gives Codevilla an edge in the competition and should amuse readers who can appreciate his willingness to set reality aside in pursuit of seductive generalizations. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Angelo M. Codevilla
Professor Codevilla has written a number of books including No Victory, No Peace (2004), Between the Alps and a Hard Place (2000), The Character of Nations (1997), Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century (1992), While Others Build (1988), and Modern France (1974). He has also translated and edited The Prince by Machiavelli (1997). He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.