The past four years in the United States have been among the most turbulent in our history--and would have been so even without a global pandemic and waves of protest nationwide against police violence. Drawn from the recent work of The Atlantic staff writers and contributors, The American Crisis explores the factors that led us to the present moment: racial division, economic inequality, political dysfunction, the hollowing out of government, the devaluation of truth, and the unique threat posed by Donald Trump.
The American Crisis is a 500-page collection of the best of the Atlantic magazine in the age of Trump ... it bulges with great writing and reporting. In an era when the public square has been degraded by the mob violence of Twitter, the amoral algorithms of Facebook and the dubious scribblings of Drudge, Breitbart and the Daily Caller, this collection arrives at the perfect moment to affirm the promise of the Atlantic’s founders in 1857: to fight with the forces of 'freedom, national progress, and honor, whether public or private'.
While built from standalone pieces, the book is meant to tell a unified story ... it generally succeeds, but it does so in a way that can be exhausting to work through and unsatisfying to complete, doing justice neither to the best nor the worst writers the magazine employs ... But what really comes through is the institutional voice of The Atlantic, which makes itself felt in nearly every contribution: clean, authoritative, high-minded, rigorously empirical, more than a bit self-righteous—and, once you’ve heard it enough times, utterly tedious ... It’s an encapsulation of the tradition of reasonableness that the magazine has traded on for so long. But after reading about the many existential crises rigorously detailed by the staff of The Atlantic over the past few years, it’s not at all clear that high-minded argument will be enough.
In keeping with the Atlantic's goal of 'debating and illuminating America’s meaning and purpose,' editor at large Murphy gathers 40 incisive essays from an impressive roster of contributors ... Contributors consider issues such as racial inequality, cultural divides and polarization, climate change, voter suppression, the plight of undocumented immigrants, and evangelical Christians ... Among many unsettling pieces are profiles of Newt Gingrich, Paul Manafort, Ivanka Trump, and, most disturbingly, conspiracy theorists enraptured with QAnon. Other top-notch contributors include Anne Applebaum, George Packer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X. Kendi, and Yuval Noah Harari. An illuminating collection of perceptive, well-argued, and compelling essays.