In This Review

The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
By Christopher Lasch
Norton, 1979, 268 pp
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This book is so uniformly pessimistic that one wonders if the author, a distinguished historian, is suffering as is the nation from a crisis of middle age. And yet most of what Lasch says is well supported by data. The central indictment is that Americans have isolated themselves from the past and, for that reason, have lost a sense of responsibility for posterity. The analysis is informed by psychoanalytic theory as well as historical learning. This could become as influential a statement of the moral-intellectual climate of the late 1970s as Charles Reich's Greening of America was for the 1960s. Lasch, however, is far more profound, and his conclusions are diametrically opposite to Reich's gleeful silliness.