If you want to raise a healthy and happy family in a rapidly changing world, this book will provide you with copious notes and ideas. Sasse even goes so far as to talk about how to develop a personal syllabus of books to read. But amid his practical advice, Sasse also challenges readers to consider esoteric ideas ... Ultimately, this book has the potential to do what so few books can promise: make you a better person. The Vanishing American Adult, if read widely, would build more thoughtful individuals—which would, if replicated, create a stronger civilization ... a welcome respite from the distraction of our smart phones blowing up over the latest news and scandals plaguing Washington, D.C. Our ongoing struggle in life is how to balance responding to the urgent and devoting time to the important. The Vanishing American Adult is decidedly for people who want to focus on the latter.
It’s a list that could come out of a parenting guide from almost anywhere on the ideological spectrum, and honestly, it’s not a terrible one. Sasse is extremely corny from time to time, but that seems like more of a feature than a bug. He doesn’t pose traditionalism as a new counter-culture because Sasse doesn’t have any interest in being part of a counter-culture. And yet, his fidelity to timeless values feels almost refreshing in a political moment when all the compasses seem to be spinning ... Sasse goes far out of his way to be uncontroversial and extend his appeal across the board. Policy disagreements are reduced to asides, and he spends roughly zero time complaining about Obama ... I’d agree that there is value to midwestern communalist agricultural practices, but to focus on that would require Sasse to consider the social relations of production instead of individual virtue. Easier to say that kids should work harder, like he did, weeding the soybean fields and detasseling corn.
a strange hybrid of a book, part how-to manual, part jeremiad, filled with rambling disquisitions ... All of this makes The Vanishing American Adult both voluble and evasive at once, as Sasse layers tale upon tale, repeats modifiers and metaphors, and serves up bland platitudes without venturing much by way of political specifics. In other words, this is a consummate politician’s book ... To read The Vanishing American Adult is to reside in a parallel universe where older Americans stoically uphold standards of decency and responsibility, instead of electing to the country’s highest office a reality-TV star with six business bankruptcies to his name who brazenly flouts both ... It must be nice to be Ben Sasse, in a position to pick and choose the hardships one will adopt in order to learn some life lessons — and to feel morally superior for having triumphed over phony adversity. But to anyone who buys into the notion, especially now, that the country’s political future can be rescued by getting our toddlers to bring us our socks, one can only say: Good luck with that.
The thing is, Sasse's book is good. Good enough, in fact, to quiet the part of my mind that doesn't want a lecture from a senator right now. He acknowledges from the beginning that his book could easily be misread as an exercise in cantankerous nostalgia, and he's careful not to let it become one ... I wish he'd countered some of his criticisms of millennials with more acknowledgment of their strengths ... Still, Sasse taps into a sense of unease that a lot of us feel about our kids (and ourselves) as we watch devices suck up increasing amounts of time and energy and our world spiral into a sort of distracted directionlessness. He doesn't pretend to offer a silver bullet, but he offers clear steps for nudging our kids out of their comfort zones and toward curiosity and that elusive compulsion.
Sasse gives the impression that his book is intended as a warning siren only for those with incomes in the top 20 percent. It shouldn’t be. Sasse is too smart not to perceive the plight of the working poor or, to cite an example entirely absent from these pages, the challenges faced by a high school junior who is already working 20 hours a week to help his mother pay the rent. While the book ignores that demographic, Sasse’s overarching point is a good one ... at the very same time, he admits the obvious: There is a place for broad debate and creating a framework in government for many of these issues. Perhaps that will be Sasse’s next book, in which case I look forward to seeing the insights of Zeno of Citium and others unleashed upon government policy.
He’s trying to articulate a language of shared culture and values in a country that has been rocked by technological, cultural, and demographic change. It may be an imperfect attempt. But at least Sasse has identified the right project ... His proposals are about recovering this sense of meaning and establishing a shared language for talking about it, thickening the civic culture that serves as the foundation of political deliberation ... While Sasse may claim he’s talking about all Americans, he’s really speaking to the upper-middle class ... Blaming Millennials for American’s cultural drift is the book’s most grievous and inexplicable category error ... At its core, the book also pleads for something greater: the rehabilitation of shared values in a time of intense difference; a focus on culture as the deepest challenge of politics; and the ability to imagine virtue as part of who we are as citizens, whether Sasse gets it right or not.
Heartfelt advice about how to raise engaged citizens ... Sasse presents advice that seems most applicable to the affluent and educated: distract children from peer culture by enhancing family time (dining, singing, memorizing poetry together); emphasize the difference between want and need; engage in travel as learners rather than merely tourists. The author thoughtfully underscores the importance of reading ... Sasse makes a host of debatable assertions, but he also makes a simple, sensible call for an informed electorate.