The Way of the Wasp

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9780029047217: The Way of the Wasp

Richard Brookhiser examines one of the most talked-about and most misunderstood groups in American life. Not long before his election, candidate George Bush was surprised to discover that much of the electorate's interest in him was due to a national inclination to rediscover traditional WASP values and styles such as personal modesty, public service and quiet steadfastness. In the 20th century, it was WASP adherence to tradition, restrained emotions, and distrust of charisma that made them an object of cultural and social scorn, often from within their own ranks. Brookheiser argues that this misunderstood group actually embodied the potent values that shaped many aspects of American life.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Our nation's founders were sui generis WASP, whose ethic formed the American character, and "without the continuing influence of whose values," we have lost our way. In a cri de coeur written with a wit that leavens his controvertible convictions and makes this maddening book entertaining, National Review editor Brookhiser argues that current emigres resist becoming Americanized, that WASPs themselves, influenced by progressive politics, have gone astray. He sets forth what he considers to be the basic WASP characteristics--conscientiousness, industry, success, civic-mindedness, prudishness--that, he maintains, have been usurped by the traits of de-assimilation--self, ambition, gratification, group-mindedness, diffidence, creativity. WASP insularity is dismissed as a one-time reaction to foreigners, "an episode," and evidence is offered of WASP adaptiveness to immigrants' cultures: absorption of bagels and burritos into our national cuisine. If America is to reclaim greatness, our citizens must be WASPized, opines Brookhiser: "The people we want aren't permanent immigrants."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

America needs saving, and George Bush is the man to do it, says the author. Why Bush? Because he is the leader of the WASPs, and WASPdom is what made the United States so successful--before it got sidetracked by misguided ideas and progressive politics. Since Brookhiser is a National Review editor and American Spectator contributor, it's hardly surprising to hear him argue that WASPs possess the only real character America has ever had, that restoring their cultural hegemony and such WASP values as civic-mindedness will bring about a badly needed national renaissance. It is a bit disconcerting, however, when this one-time Bush speechwriter admits that his former boss--the man he proposes as America's savior--"shows no intellectual depth." Ultimately, the author's thesis is clear but unconvincing.
- Stephen Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, Id.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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