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THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In an era of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and an unprecedented election, the country's youth are in crisis. Senator Ben Sasse warns the nation about the existential threat to America's future. Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America's youth are i THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In an era of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and an unprecedented election, the country's youth are in crisis. Senator Ben Sasse warns the nation about the existential threat to America's future. Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America's youth are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy. Many of the coming-of-age rituals that have defined the American experience since the Founding: learning the value of working with your hands, leaving home to start a family, becoming economically self-reliant—are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. From these disparate phenomena: Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who as president of a Midwestern college observed the trials of this generation up close, sees an existential threat to the American way of life.In The Vanishing American Adult, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies core formative experiences that all young people should pursue: hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, the importance of nurturing your body—and explains how parents can encourage them.Our democracy depends on responsible, contributing adults to function properly—without them America falls prey to populist demagogues. A call to arms, The Vanishing American Adult will ignite a much-needed debate about the link between the way we're raising our children and the future of our country.


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THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In an era of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and an unprecedented election, the country's youth are in crisis. Senator Ben Sasse warns the nation about the existential threat to America's future. Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America's youth are i THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In an era of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and an unprecedented election, the country's youth are in crisis. Senator Ben Sasse warns the nation about the existential threat to America's future. Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America's youth are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy. Many of the coming-of-age rituals that have defined the American experience since the Founding: learning the value of working with your hands, leaving home to start a family, becoming economically self-reliant—are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. From these disparate phenomena: Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who as president of a Midwestern college observed the trials of this generation up close, sees an existential threat to the American way of life.In The Vanishing American Adult, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies core formative experiences that all young people should pursue: hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, the importance of nurturing your body—and explains how parents can encourage them.Our democracy depends on responsible, contributing adults to function properly—without them America falls prey to populist demagogues. A call to arms, The Vanishing American Adult will ignite a much-needed debate about the link between the way we're raising our children and the future of our country.

30 review for The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    If you don't like this book because you think it's too preachy, you're the problem.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ken Zimmerman

    This book is not worth the time or energy required to read it. It's a hodge-podge of this and that. Mostly incorrect and missing the real points of the lives it supposedly describes. Self-reliance is not as Sasse assures his readers being on one's own and making one's own way. Among all the nations of the Earth the USA is the least likely of these to exhibit such ways of life. Sasse's supposedly an historian. He should know better. The history of the USA is one of neighbors, cities, towns, and s This book is not worth the time or energy required to read it. It's a hodge-podge of this and that. Mostly incorrect and missing the real points of the lives it supposedly describes. Self-reliance is not as Sasse assures his readers being on one's own and making one's own way. Among all the nations of the Earth the USA is the least likely of these to exhibit such ways of life. Sasse's supposedly an historian. He should know better. The history of the USA is one of neighbors, cities, towns, and states helping one another. Of banding-together to face both everyday life and the many crises that come to Americans. Sasse seems more focused on changing rather than describing American history. Changing it first to be Christian. Then to be mostly European. And then to be religiously based conservative. The less ideological history of the USA is multi-religion, European-African-Asian, and pragmatically middle-of-the-road politically and morally. If you agree with his ideology then read this book. It will confirm all you think you know. If you rather take an evidence-based view of the USA and its history, the book will attack everything you believe and you personally. I'm an historian. It offends me to see history abused as Sasse does in this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    I read this book a couple of years ago, and was quite impressed. My original review can be seen below. Despite Senator Sasse's early criticisms of Donald Trump, he voted to acquit Trump during the impeachment trial. So, despite my original 5-star rating, I am changing my rating to 1-star. Why? Sasse wrote that the children of today lack character. But he has shown me that he himself lacks character, or honor. Sasse wrote that the children of today are unable to become independent. However, Sasse I read this book a couple of years ago, and was quite impressed. My original review can be seen below. Despite Senator Sasse's early criticisms of Donald Trump, he voted to acquit Trump during the impeachment trial. So, despite my original 5-star rating, I am changing my rating to 1-star. Why? Sasse wrote that the children of today lack character. But he has shown me that he himself lacks character, or honor. Sasse wrote that the children of today are unable to become independent. However, Sasse showed me that he has not grown to be independent. Sasse argued that many children do not know what America is all about. Well, I would suggest that Sasse should read the Constitution, because he has forgotten what it says. Put simply, Senator Sasse is a hypocrite. *********************************************** Original Review Ben Sasse is a Republican Senator from Nebraska. He is a vocal critic of Donald Trump, and did not support him before or after Trump's election. This book is bound to make him a very influential personality. In this book, Sasse deliberately steers away from issues related to policies and politics. Instead, he describes how he believes children should be raised. His conservative outlook is on show throughout the book. But, despite my political leanings toward the opposite end of the spectrum, I must say that to a large extent, I agree with his views on raising children, and about adulthood in general. Sasse's basic thesis is that many of America's teens are not growing up to be adults. Many lack character, a work ethic, they are not engaged, they have been isolated, coddled, they are unable to become independent, and they do not understand what this country is all about. Sasse saw this first-hand, when he was president of Midland University. He states his arguments thoughtfully, articulately and with intelligence. He lays it on thick with anecdotes, but the anecdotes have a ring of truth about them. Sasse suggests a five-point program to raise responsible, self-reliant children into adulthood. They are: 1) Overcome peer pressure. Do not isolate children from people of other ages, especially those with different points of view. 2) Work hard. Bring up children with a good work ethic, who do not shy away from adversity. 3) Resist consumerism. Teach children the difference between needing something and wanting something. 4) Travel, in order to expose children to other cultures and ways of thinking. Do not shelter children from different ways of thinking. 5) Read extensively, and not just fluff. Read real books that contain real ideas and are generally acknowledged to be great books. Sasse also discusses how to teach children what America is all about. The first amendment to the Constitution is fundamental to our democracy; so many young people don't even believe that it is necessary! I highly recommend this book. Being a parent is hard work, and many of Sasse's recommendations are not easy. But all in all, this book is useful for maintaining our culture and national character.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Kaminski

    Ben Sasse is one of those Senators who looks like a career politician from a movie or central casting. But actually he was running a college before he came to the Senate. And in his book here he puts his finger on something very unique happening in society today that I have been guilty of (a little also) and that is the disengagement of people within society. And in particular for millennials (now that graduation is upon us) they are supposed to becoming adults...but they are doing nothing to ac Ben Sasse is one of those Senators who looks like a career politician from a movie or central casting. But actually he was running a college before he came to the Senate. And in his book here he puts his finger on something very unique happening in society today that I have been guilty of (a little also) and that is the disengagement of people within society. And in particular for millennials (now that graduation is upon us) they are supposed to becoming adults...but they are doing nothing to actively act like it. I'm seeing more about this kind of cultural drift where kids are graduating from school, have no idea what they want to do, no ambition, no motivation. And because they can live through a screen bringing them all of life that they want to engage in...endless books (my vice), binge watching Netflix, staring into their phones & tablets with social media (A LOT of people) they think they are engaging with people but really they're just engaging with a screen. Almost as if they were zombies. How do you combat that? - From Goodreads: The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. - Only 18% of 8th graders are proficient at history. Only 16% of those graduating could explain coherently what socialism is (as for adults who watch Hannity that is closer to zero...OK I made that up...joke) - Softer Parenting. The parents want to dump the kids in the schools and on the teachers and then turn around to treat those same people with disdain when they point of problems. They are taking the very real issues as a challenge to how they are parenting and not using the tools that these systems are for. - We are spending more on education per pupil than most nations yet our results are getting worse year after year. The student's life at home has nothing to do with those results? - We have become more shallow with rituals of coming of age: graduations (horray! you attended school!) to bar mitzmah (Yay! you made it to 16 alive!). There is now very little connection or meaning to the events. That's a little scary. This isn't a political book. Sasse tries to at the end of every chapter lay out steps and solutions he has taken or gathered and there is some wisdom there. But this is a long term problem which even I'm not sure has an answer...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Ben Sasse is sharp, witty, and highly educated. He also harbors a reservoir of dangerous and frighteningly bad ideas. The first time I realized this, I was listening to a debate between him and Dave Domina who was his opponent running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. I clearly remember the moment when Sasse started talking about his desire to dismantle Social Security — but unfortunately the moderator cut him off and switched topics before voters could hear more about this position. 

Many more of S Ben Sasse is sharp, witty, and highly educated. He also harbors a reservoir of dangerous and frighteningly bad ideas. The first time I realized this, I was listening to a debate between him and Dave Domina who was his opponent running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. I clearly remember the moment when Sasse started talking about his desire to dismantle Social Security — but unfortunately the moderator cut him off and switched topics before voters could hear more about this position. 

Many more of Senator Sasse’s bad ideas, and (I’ll admit) some good ones, are brought to light in his new book. Given Sasse’s smug attitudes and dripping disdain for urban Nebraskans, I tried to keep an open mind even knowing that Sasse is essentially in lockstep with Trump and Mitch McConnell mandates (his voting record displays none of the independence he projects in his book, his tweets, or on Sunday morning talk shows). This book identifies and addresses a wide variety of modern problems as well as imaginary “micro-problems” which most sensible people would agree are not problems at all. His mindset is the puritanical, “We were created to be worshipping and working.” In other words, mindless busywork is better than idle (leisure) hours. 

 Far be it from me not to give credit where credit is due, though. Moments of agreement and great interest for me in Sasse’s book included: 
-Stats on video game use & increasing screentime in kids/young adults
-Notable increases in adults living at home -“In the 1800s, parents assumed that children needed less supervision and direction than we now assume.” -p. 60: “Why can’t we use our wealth to ask big questions about social justice for those who have been shamefully left out?” -“Against ‘Grade 13’”: Sasse points out the increase in remedial classes students need at the beginning of college, and how extending/expanding unsuccessful lessons from high school does a disservice to young adults. -Limited consumption — a surprisingly appealing sentiment coming from a Republican that less truly is more and “Things won’t make you happy” (p. 152)…furthermore, “We are a driving and aimless people — awash in material goods and yet spiritually aching for meaning” (p. 260). -Against age segregation — Sasse shrewdly notes how pervasive this problem is in America.
-Some wise tidbits calling for unity rather than divisiveness, however infrequently he actually applies them: “We need a healthy debate that is not pre-determined by us-versus-them tribalism.”
-And perhaps the best thing he has to say? “Young people…are not liabilities to be managed but assets to be developed.” There are a couple other topics Sasse touches on which are hardly controversial, but he manages to come across as out of touch or extremely boring: “Thoughtful travel is an obligatory part of education,” Sasse smartly observes, but you could drive a truck through the man’s privilege. Sasse seems blissfully unaware, even as he advocates for travelling “on the cheap,” that such opportunities as backpacking across Europe are not givens for many people in his constituency or across the country. Furthermore, no one could argue with his position that a nation of readers is desirable and important, but his chapters retelling his favorite fun facts from human history and subsequent construction of a required (“but not really required” because he hates schools) reading list is so dry you could quench your thirst with dust (not so much the list itself, just the painstakingly dull process he takes his reader through to construct it).

 This brings me to my biggest concern with this book: it is a thinly veiled attack on public schools. Sasse launches into vilifying schools early and never lets up (but at one point he says he’s “not anti-teacher” so it’s ok?!). He stridently argues for defunding public schools, and in a series not-so-subtle reminders, offers anecdotes of the fabulous homeschooling disciples he and his wife are.
 Page 26: “Schools undermine how Americans once turned children into adults.”
 Page 34: “CHILDREN AS LITTLE WORKERS: in the late 1890s, less than 10% of 14-17 year olds attended school…extensive laws against child labor insulated (kids) from work.” Chapter 3: “More school is not enough” 
 Page 59: -an ironic observation: “Why does (X School) drift ‘forward’ on autopilot year after year when any institution failing this spectacularly in other professions — from grocers and cabdrivers to dry cleaners and driving school operators — would obviously face real consequences?” - Sasse totally misses the point that in America, most industries INCLUDING education require people to work together with coworkers, unlike Congress which chugs along in its dysfunction year after year.
Even though Sasse claims this book is nonpolitical, he states and restates his position that “mass schooling” has done more harm than good, and inelegantly suggests kids should be working in fields and factories, child labor laws be damned. By viewing “mass schooling” to mass incarceration, Sasse offers a dangerous and nonsensical equivalency.

 Sasse manages to scold his readers in a few other ways as he moves along. Shaming his readership in equal turns for religious nonparticipation and a subsection on the imaginary problem of “LESS MARRIAGE” (a.k.a people who choose to remain single, p. 59), Sasse then cowers behind a shield of smugness: “Before we rush to our partisan corners…” — do you EVER leave yours, sir? Many of Sasse’s supporters and Twitter followers are fooled by his wit and “aw-shucks” homespun tales, but this man has no one’s interests at heart but his own. Finally, Sasse makes two rather shocking assertions early on in his book.
 -“This generation is inheriting a world free of the totalitarian specters that cast big shadows over the 20th century and free of racist legal barriers that held back many Americans.” -there’s a lot packed into that statement that many Americans would currently disagree with, both in terms of this country and our global community. -“Contemplating the evils of totalitarianism necessarily reorients you,” Sasse admonishes while apparently ignoring the drift this country and others are taking in that direction. Last but not least, you will get sick of Ben Sasse’s favorite and most overused word of all time: INCULCATE. He just wants you to know he knows how to use it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I'm glad to have read this while my boys are 5 and under. When my oldest resists doing something he could do for himself, I have been saying with a smile, "Ezra, we are building a culture of self-reliance." He has no idea what this means, but he thinks reliance has something to do with lions. So, he likes to respond with things like, "we are building a culture of monkeys" or "we are building a culture of dads who don't say things."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan Parrott

    I went into this with a ~mostly~ open mind, but give me a break.* This quote, from an NYT review, sums it up for me: "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 I went into this with a ~mostly~ open mind, but give me a break.* This quote, from an NYT review, sums it up for me: "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." *Coming from a yet another millennial who's tired of being ragged on for every failing

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joe Lynn

    The basic message I got from this book is that it is a parent's responsibility to raise their children with a strong work ethic and the background knowledge and skills to be able to think critically and to be self-reliant. I agree that these are essential skills and that is a laudable message. I found myself agreeing with most of what Senator Sasse espoused and I am giving fours stars based on that message. I did find it troubling that he is painting an entire generation with the same brush, and The basic message I got from this book is that it is a parent's responsibility to raise their children with a strong work ethic and the background knowledge and skills to be able to think critically and to be self-reliant. I agree that these are essential skills and that is a laudable message. I found myself agreeing with most of what Senator Sasse espoused and I am giving fours stars based on that message. I did find it troubling that he is painting an entire generation with the same brush, and he blames the public school system for most of the problems. I don't doubt that he saw many students admitted to his college who needed remedial help before starting college. But did all students require it, or even the majority? If so, I wonder how low their admission standards are. As the father of four millenials who went through the public school system, I know that my children were well prepared for college: none needed any remedial work, they were all accepted to their top choice schools, and all graduated on time with good grades. None of them are "living in my basement playing video games all day", as Senator Sasse seems to imply about that generation. Two of my children are working at full-time professional careers, and the other two are pursuing advanced degrees. As the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is not data, and so I think his description of the malaise of the millennial generation needs statistics to give it perspective. I understand that there are many school districts that are doing poorly, but there are many doing an excellent job too. My children's circle of friends from high school are almost unanimously working at career-oriented jobs. Senator Sasse is justifiably proud of the home-school education that he and his wife are providing for their children. But With two-earner families being the norm for so many Americans today, home schooling is not an option for everyone. I also question whether every parent is cut out to teach. . Most people don't have a job that permits them to bring their children along on business trips, etc. The Sasse family situation for home schooling is far from ubiquitous, and so the public school system is still critically important. Senator Sasse says in his conclusion that he deliberately stayed away from public policy in this book. But I think that the undercurrent of "public schools bad/home schooling good" that permeates the book tends to obscure his message. He emphasized the grand opportunities he has been able to afford his children. But one does not need to send a 14-year-old to a cattle ranch for a month to teach them work ethics. There are plenty of opportunities (baby sitting, mother's helper, yard work, snow shoveling, laundry, cleaning, etc) that a young teen can do inside and outside of the family to learn this. I also thought he could have put more emphasis on how parents can drive this even if their child is in public education. Instead of bemoaning the fact that the school schedule constrains the possibilities of giving your children life experiences, he could have put more thought into how they can coexist.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    I can’t believe it. I think I may have just found a Republican U.S. senator I’d actually vote for. I’m as surprised as anyone that I read, let alone greatly enjoyed, a book by Republican (but, phew, #NeverTrump) senator from Nebraska. I really think the only reason I picked it up was because Sasse’s face isn’t on the cover. If it were, it would look like every other politician’s memoir and therefore a waste of time. But this isn’t that, not by a long shot. Sasse, a Ph.D in history and former colle I can’t believe it. I think I may have just found a Republican U.S. senator I’d actually vote for. I’m as surprised as anyone that I read, let alone greatly enjoyed, a book by Republican (but, phew, #NeverTrump) senator from Nebraska. I really think the only reason I picked it up was because Sasse’s face isn’t on the cover. If it were, it would look like every other politician’s memoir and therefore a waste of time. But this isn’t that, not by a long shot. Sasse, a Ph.D in history and former college president, was troubled by the lack of certain skills and self-sufficiency in his college’s incoming freshman classes. He doesn’t use the term, but it’s those darn Millennials he’s talking about. Though the book does give off the slightest aroma of Kids These Days and Back In My Day, I’m inclined to endure it because Sasse is largely on to something. More here: http://chadcomello.com/the-vanishing-...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark Jr.

    A good-hearted, tough-minded, generous, hopeful, Mr.-Smith-goes-to-Washington who nonetheless knows his Augustine (and, more importantly, his Paul) well enough to take account of human depravity in his politics. An earnest, Christian, Ivy-league educated, cornfields-to-Congress husband and father and former university president who saw sad deficiencies in his students and worked to remedy them in his children. I don't fundamentally share the hope Sasse has for America; I just don't have it in me. A good-hearted, tough-minded, generous, hopeful, Mr.-Smith-goes-to-Washington who nonetheless knows his Augustine (and, more importantly, his Paul) well enough to take account of human depravity in his politics. An earnest, Christian, Ivy-league educated, cornfields-to-Congress husband and father and former university president who saw sad deficiencies in his students and worked to remedy them in his children. I don't fundamentally share the hope Sasse has for America; I just don't have it in me. I think we're too far gone. But his view from the heartland—both of America and, in a way, of the Western tradition—is still one I wanted to set firmly before my vision as my own children exit toddlerhood and start coming under my more direct influence. And I'm very glad I took the time to listen to Sasse. I picked up a conviction first helped along by Vern Poythress that I need to provide what my culture no longer does: structured, coming-of-age rites of passage for my children. I need, too, to take even more seriously my job of passing on what's valuable in Western culture to their fresh minds and hearts—along with the spiritual truths I have already eagerly taught them (and will continue to teach). I need to teach them not just "the value of hard work," which is a bit nebulous as far as learning objectives; I need to teach them (and I loved this idea from Sasse) that far more joy comes out of production than out of consumption. Memorably, and now famously, Sasse sent his fourteen-year-old daughter off to a ranch to learn the value of dirty work. He recommends travel and reading of great works (he is the product of St John's Great Books program—and of Harvard and Yale). Above all, he recommends structured and intentional transference of adult responsibilities to children and teenagers. I hear and now adopt his vision. I have something of a secularometer when I read books nowadays, and very clearly Sasse is *not* a devotee of the self-help genre. He is an orthodox evangelical Christian. He makes regular and explicit reference to his faith and even gets a little into the weeds of Christian theology, encouraging readers to explore the relationship of Genesis 3 and Romans 5, for example. He did not implicitly privilege empirical modes of knowing, citing study after study like many books in the same Amazon category. I really appreciated that. Instead he relied on biblical insight and classical/traditional arguments. I probably would have increased the Bible citations and been a little more glum about the possibilities of pluralism. But I didn't write the book. Sasse is someone I have come to really admire. He's a leader with a careful and non-partisan vision for America's future. He may be The One Mark Lilla was looking for when he asked (in The Once and Future Liberal ) for someone to unite Americans of all kinds around a shared story. I think someone with a clear belief system—including a belief in the "classical liberal" wisdom of the American founders—is actually best suited to retrieve a system which is supposed to allow for liberty of individual conscience while still pulling Americans together behind a common vision. I pray—I pray—that Sasse's star will rise. What a mercy to us if it does.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    All the stars are not because I love the book or agree with everything in it. A lot I do: I share the concern that our culture is failing our children, and that schools and the whole concept of how they are set up and run is a big part of the problem, and needs to be massively re-thought. I also agree that parents have to take responsibility and teach by example and explicitly, you can't rely on school or on teen culture to magically turn your children into successful adults. The fact that I dis All the stars are not because I love the book or agree with everything in it. A lot I do: I share the concern that our culture is failing our children, and that schools and the whole concept of how they are set up and run is a big part of the problem, and needs to be massively re-thought. I also agree that parents have to take responsibility and teach by example and explicitly, you can't rely on school or on teen culture to magically turn your children into successful adults. The fact that I disagree with pretty much everything else, from the religious to the political to the historical, that Sasse says isn't a problem. In fact I have learned through my online homeschooling community that people who disagree about faith and politics can share goals and support one another in figuring out how to raise and teach their children. I really appreciate the thought-provoking aspects of this book when it comes to education and child-raising and even if I don't agree with everything in it, I can have a meaningful, productive conversation with it and think about how to make changes in my family life and my children's education based on these ideas. But. Boy, does Sasse carry some big blinders of privilege. From his completely whitewashed presentation of the history of western civilization, American history, and the glories of capitalism to his belief that travel and embracing hard work and loving America, no matter what, will solve all the problems of youth today, his world view is just plunked squarely in the middle of the white, upper class, Harvard-and-Yale-attending, Republican, conservative Christian crowd and he doesn't seem to see a world beyond that, challenges beyond that. It crystallized for me when he expressed his outraged shock that President Obama didn't embrace the idea of American Exceptionalism. He really doesn't seem to understand the gap between the ideals expressed in the founding documents and their execution. From the beginning. Ongoing. Maybe he should re-read his Frederick Douglas. I recommend "What to the slave is the 4th of July".

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    How can Americans parent well in the 21st century? Dr. Sasse suggests we consider the perspectives of the past. This is a book written by a person with a phD in history who also clearly teaches very well. The reader probably won't be thinking of the author as a United States Senator while reading. You will be reflecting upon the thoughts of Aristotle and Lincoln among many others. This is a call to direct our children toward wide reading and meaningful travel...even if only blocks away. A call t How can Americans parent well in the 21st century? Dr. Sasse suggests we consider the perspectives of the past. This is a book written by a person with a phD in history who also clearly teaches very well. The reader probably won't be thinking of the author as a United States Senator while reading. You will be reflecting upon the thoughts of Aristotle and Lincoln among many others. This is a call to direct our children toward wide reading and meaningful travel...even if only blocks away. A call to reject mere consumption and age segregation for teens. A call to love hard work. We will be blessed if our children can become what we see in these pages.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily Koopmann

    A book published this year: Dear Mr. Senator, Your book was ah-ight. Who was your intended audience? I'm hoping it's people like us -- white, mid-western, privileged folk. I think that was your intent, but to not explicitly state that makes me wonder if you think all young people have equal footing in this race of life. As you mention you were afforded great opportunities (traveling abroad, bowls games, trips to the ocean, experiences on the farm, etc.), but there are young people and their parent A book published this year: Dear Mr. Senator, Your book was ah-ight. Who was your intended audience? I'm hoping it's people like us -- white, mid-western, privileged folk. I think that was your intent, but to not explicitly state that makes me wonder if you think all young people have equal footing in this race of life. As you mention you were afforded great opportunities (traveling abroad, bowls games, trips to the ocean, experiences on the farm, etc.), but there are young people and their parents before them and their parents before them who were not. You don't know what you don't know until you know, so you can't lump sum young people like that without mentioning race and class. Talk about the hard issues, right? Grapple with those who disagree, right? Past slavery, which you did mention, you could have mentioned more and put the reader in the more grey area that is 2017. I'm with you in the sense that my generation, and younger, needs a lesson in "bucking up". I'm with having hard conversations and enlightenment through literature. (Even though your personal canon sounds boring as hell.) My thought is that just because a person works hard, shows grit and resilience, doesn't mean they, or the generations after them, will automatically be counted as productive for our society and nation. A man could spend all day on the lake fishing with his bare hands. Working hard to catch fish and provide for his family. Teaching his son that through hours of hard labor, you will at some point catch a fish and provide. But, how amazing would it be teach that man, give him tools, be patient while he and his son adapt to new methods, and see his family now feed the whole village. At the end of the day Senator, it's more complicated than intentional parenting and the experience of birthing calves. I don't think your book tapped into complexities, but instead stayed even keel as mid-westerners do. You could have done better. Feel free to call me anytime. I'll grapple. I'm 27, I read books, and I have things to say contrary to your belief. Your Friendly Nebraska Resident, Emily A. Koopmann

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    So, this thing happened. I read a book by a frickin' politician. It was brilliant. It was intelligently argued. It was theologically thoughtful. HE SUGGESTED THAT EVERYONE SHOULD READ LUTHER'S GREAT GALATIANS COMMENTARY. It made me want to be a better dad, and it gave me practical advice on how to do that. I was inspired and challenged (in a salutary way) by a book BY A POLITICIAN. Like that happens. Well, yes, I guess it does. BECAUSE IT DID. Go Huskers!

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    I'm very impressed with Senator Sasse and thoroughly enjoyed his call to raise our children to be responsible adults.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Senator Sasse is a gem. Intelligent and eloquent, funny and social-media-savvy, he differs from your average Republican officeholder in that he doesn't constantly spout the same conservative talking points. Instead, he offers something deeper than that in his normal discussion of policy. This book continues on in this same vein. Sasse's book, The Vanishing American Adult, discussing the social conditions plaguing many young people in America today, stuck in perpetual adolescence, or "Neverland." Senator Sasse is a gem. Intelligent and eloquent, funny and social-media-savvy, he differs from your average Republican officeholder in that he doesn't constantly spout the same conservative talking points. Instead, he offers something deeper than that in his normal discussion of policy. This book continues on in this same vein. Sasse's book, The Vanishing American Adult, discussing the social conditions plaguing many young people in America today, stuck in perpetual adolescence, or "Neverland." Sasse, a historian by training, offers a discussion of the history and potential direction of this wandering generation. The lack of "adulthood" is not only dangerous to the individual but to society, as the virtues and characteristics which the Founders saw as necessary to a successful Republic are fastly abating. Along the way, Sasse weaves in the history of American education and civic ideals, along with suggestions on how to create adults who live a full life. One, Sasse frequently discusses the lost value of work, as younger generations see work as a burden more than an opportunity. Discussing the overbearing consumer culture, youngsters have become "consumers" rather than producers. (I don't think there's anything wrong with being a consumer as long as you're a producer at the same time) People want to add value to society, and the shift in the past few decades have lessened opportunities for young people to develop a thriving work ethic. Along these lines, Sasse also mentions the growing technological culture and how this plays in. In my personal opinion, this discussion of meaningful work is important after this last election, where a large population of people, who feel that they no longer contribute to their society in meaningful ways, expressed their dissatisfaction with the world as it is. Largely, though, Sasse points out a seeming apathy (despite economic conditions) toward the same kind of work - that we rather enjoy the freedom from work or pain or discomfort than the freedom to work or worship or produce (the distinction between freedom to vs. freedom from is important). Additionally, he discusses at length the "peer-guidance" method parroted by Benjamin Spock and deeply ingrained in the modern educational system. Instead of looking toward adults and older generations for examples, young people often looked toward themselves to look for answers. Spending time with older people, or people not of your generation, is an essential element of creating successful adults. While reading this as a millennial, I could hear the snarky voices of some of my peers trying to "rebut" everything he says by offering the same critiques of the economy. I've discovered in my life, though, that some folks are often convinced that they work harder than they actually do. But the intergenerational divide speaks to me, as I've always had a deathly fear of old people, usually those who weren't relatives. The older I got, my ability to communicate with those a few generations ahead of me hadn't improved - because I was steeped in this peer culture and I hadn't spent as much time looking above for guidance, even though I spent a good deal of time with my parents growing up! Finally, Sasse offers a few suggestions of making tougher, deeper adults - like cultivating good travel and reading habits and re-instilling an idea of America as an idea. This last section felt hokier than the rest of the book, which is an odd reflection of myself. I generally agree with Sasse, and I generally agree with the idea of America as an exceptional nation, but when we talk of American greatness and ideas, it's hard not to hear your crazy conservative uncle talking. I don't know how we can discuss this is in a way that doesn't sound that way, but it did come off in an over-the-top way. Perhaps the "Fox News" characterization of America has made it difficult to talk about America in a beautiful, literary way, to speak of its foundational exceptionalism in a way that touches people and doesn't turn them off. Ultimately, Sasse's discussion of issues facing of the future American "adult" is a good diagnosis. He offers a firm prescription on how to combat this disturbing trend and perhaps instill a more "virtuous" society, one filled with competent, hardworking, deep-thinking adults. As a student of American cultural history, I found the book comprehensive and weaved in many strands of American ideas and identity. I would recommend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This has some good ideas. But I found reading it very disheartening. I disagree with the reviews on this site which class this book as "superior think" of the lucky. It isn't. If you spend anytime around young adults you will know that it isn't. It simply requires to suffer somewhat and be tested in order to maintain a sufficient or maximum strength as a human being. The parenting skills in ALL economic classes and the lack of strong family units which hold a strong consequence for shirking cann This has some good ideas. But I found reading it very disheartening. I disagree with the reviews on this site which class this book as "superior think" of the lucky. It isn't. If you spend anytime around young adults you will know that it isn't. It simply requires to suffer somewhat and be tested in order to maintain a sufficient or maximum strength as a human being. The parenting skills in ALL economic classes and the lack of strong family units which hold a strong consequence for shirking cannily or refusing adult responsibility are clearly visible in multiple economic groups. Rural, urban both too. Adolescent life styles that do not require physical work, structure where inputs for everyday living costs are never or rarely considered by the receivers of those expenses? Lifestyles in which efforts toward assisting people in the adult world are not expected, and also those where precious young people are often rewarded with high consumption/ acquisition entitlements as givens? These are not leading to best outcomes for those that receive it all and who are required to do nothing other than play or school. It's like a muscle that is never used. It atrophies. His observation about working in a corn field, or the reactions to a lack of AC at night- they are very real. I lived them. There was a time that I actually had a group of my grand kids' friends quit picking blueberries similarly. One said "It's too tedious and just too hard." Some of his examples and suggestions would not be considered for the people who need them to obtain optimal or even a minimum mental and emotional strength to compete in a real life workplace- the very most, IMHO. Self-reliance is a practice earned, not a gift given. Self-identity becomes altered and often mentally troubled when there is no core self-reliance for many years beyond physical adolescence.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    I am aware, especially after reading Tom Nichol's book "The Death of Expertise", that we are all suseptible to confirmation bias, which is the immediate acceptance of anything that reaffirms our own, pre-existing opinions. And so it is with that caveat that I say I thought this book is an important look at some of our national issues; specifically regarding the upcoming generation. As a father myself, and a sometimes leader of youth in my LDS congregation, I have given these same issues a lot of I am aware, especially after reading Tom Nichol's book "The Death of Expertise", that we are all suseptible to confirmation bias, which is the immediate acceptance of anything that reaffirms our own, pre-existing opinions. And so it is with that caveat that I say I thought this book is an important look at some of our national issues; specifically regarding the upcoming generation. As a father myself, and a sometimes leader of youth in my LDS congregation, I have given these same issues a lot of thought and have come up with some of the same conclusions that Sen. Sasse has regarding the degredation of societal markers that define "Adulthood". So, as I said, confirmation bias is in play. That said, I would like to think that parents of any idealogical stripe would be able to walk away from this book with ideas on how to help their children grow up to be self-sufficient, functioning adults. The main thesis of this book is that, due to a number of factors, rising generations of Americans have lost their collective ideal of what it means to be an American adult. More 20-somethings are still living with their parents, putting off families and careers, and nursing over-inflated senses of achievement and entitlement. At the same time, Sasse contends that each subsequent generation seems less and less prepared to be contributing members of society and are set up for failure in the rapidly changing economic landscape. This book sets out to both identify contributing factors and to prescribe steps that parents can take to encourage children and teens to become well rounded individuals that will be able to continue the American ideal of a hardworking, resilient citizenry. As I said, I've thought a lot about this over years. While Sen. Sasse applies this to both boys and girls, I have long felt that our young men in particular are suffering from a lack of direction, ambition, and drive fueled, in part, by a dissolution of what it means to be a man. Surely, some of these changes have been good; it isn't manly to enforce through bullying or violence for example. However, many of these societal changes have left generations of young men without a roadmap of what it is to be a man; to provide for a family, to contribute to society, and to be as self-sufficient as possible. There are a lot of suggestions that could potentially resonate with a parent. For me it was a call to service; to encourage and push our children to make serving others a conscious decision early on in their lives. But more broadly is the idea that by sheltering our children from doing hard things, whatever that might entail (travel, service, manual labor, etc), we are robbing them of the opportunity to fail, learn to adapt, and to build character. As a Mormon, I know my life was profoundly changed when I went on a 2 year mission to Portugal where I had to learn a language, learn to get along without a parent standing by to help, and deal with rejection and despondency. Yes, my mission was hard; but it changed me and the trajectory of my life. Whereas before my mission I was failing college due to simply not going and not having enough drive to propel myself forward, after my mission I went on to complete my PhD. In all, I thought this book to be very meaningful to me and a great jumpstart in terms of ideas of how to further set up my children for later life success. Sen. Sasse contends throughout that this is not a political book in the hopes that anyone from across the political spectrum could, at least, agree with some of the potential solutions that he proposes. He is Christian, and so that does flavor his views, but most of what he suggests is fairly secular. I have been talking about this book a lot with friends and family and have been gently pushing my wife to read it as well. I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially parents.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dave & Lindsay Gurak

    Thoughtful approach to analyzing modern American culture This book was written thoughtfully and thoroughly. The background on world and American history, in conjunction with the Senator's perspective on today's culture is fascinating and appreciated. I look forward to hearing more from Senator Sasse in the future!

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Boyne

    After reading this book I confidently say that I’m on board the Ben Sasse for president in 2024 bandwagon! Sasse’s books is a well written work on the problems effecting our nations youth and the failures of society to train them for adulthood. Delayed adolescence has become a major problem in our culture that excuses laziness and failure. Sasse works to correct that problem and he provides an excellent work here for young people to follow and parents to emulate when raising their children. Sass After reading this book I confidently say that I’m on board the Ben Sasse for president in 2024 bandwagon! Sasse’s books is a well written work on the problems effecting our nations youth and the failures of society to train them for adulthood. Delayed adolescence has become a major problem in our culture that excuses laziness and failure. Sasse works to correct that problem and he provides an excellent work here for young people to follow and parents to emulate when raising their children. Sasse begins by explaining the problem of poorly raising children in an age segregated world where our public school system has completely lost its ability to educate. He then sets out on 6 major points to begin to cultivate a more meaningful adolescence. The first is to cause our children to interact with other generations more, to learn from our elders and to understand our mortality better. The second is to orient our children to work at a younger age. A good work ethics is necessary for an engaged citizen. Third, we need to consume less and focus more on personal production. Don’t just watch tv, play music instead! Fourth, if possible, we need to travel more to experience how the rest of the world lives. Not at tourists who seek our attractions but to learn more about life outside our personal contexts. Fifth, we need to read more and not just meaningless internet stuff but good books that develop a worldview that will define our lives. Last, we need to remind ourselves of American exceptionalism and the liberties that it created and why it is so important for them to be defended. I highly recommend this books to parents and young adults. The country would be better off if we followed Sasse’s advice.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zy Marquiez

    Wide in scope, and methodical in its examination, The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse is not only a dire warning, but a call to action for those who are seeing the decline of modern adults and the transmutation and erosion of adulthood in modern times, and the erosions of Freedoms as well. Examining a veritable panoply of issues, the author centers upon myriad issues in modern schooling such as age segregation, over-consumption, lack of knowledge or literary skills, and also the incomplete Wide in scope, and methodical in its examination, The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse is not only a dire warning, but a call to action for those who are seeing the decline of modern adults and the transmutation and erosion of adulthood in modern times, and the erosions of Freedoms as well. Examining a veritable panoply of issues, the author centers upon myriad issues in modern schooling such as age segregation, over-consumption, lack of knowledge or literary skills, and also the incomplete view on what Freedom really is and all that it entails, and more. Speaking about the glaring disrespect for Freedom and all that it took the gain, the author incisively notes: “Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has created the tragically apt phrase “unlearning liberty” for the troubling turn from freedom of expression and academic freedom toward political correctness and speech codes on our elite campuses. “Let’s state it clearly: This is nearly the opposite of hat American Revolution as fought for. America declared independence from Great Britain in pursuit of liberty, not “safe spaces.” Freedom, and particularly freedom of discourse and debate about the big ideas of life, death, and meaning, is the foundation of the American idea. Fleeting notions of psychological safety from having to considering competing ideas are quite nearly the opposite.”[1] Such is what takes place when people are raised wrapped in bubble wrap, and are only allowed to experience a fraction of the totality that the world holds. Worse, these actions are antithetical to Freedom since they aim to castrate others of the very views Freedom aims to protect, even if they are unpopular. At one point, the author centers upon the work of award-winning teacher, John Taylor Gatto, who has done yeomen’s work in sounding the alarm regarding the insidious nature of public schooling. In his landmark book, Dumbing Us Down, the author notes that: “…seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood,” in our cookie-cutter schools. The main consequences for students are: emotional confusion, social class disparity indifference, passivity, intellectual dependency on experts, conditional self-esteem, and surveillance by those in charge.”[2] In such a system that seeks to conform, Is it a wonder that many are merely shadows of what they are fully capable of? That said, there are two contentions to note with the book. The first contention centers upon footnotes. Although the author has a bibliography, and does in fact does address why the footnotes are missing, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Given that this book aimed to cover a large scope of information, for those wanting to not only verify the information given, but wanting to research it further, footnotes are black pearls, they are essentially priceless. One can only construct the present out of the roadmap of the past, and without a roadmap, one is unable to know where to go. One would have to spend hours trying to stitch together the book’s sourced material in an attempt to ascertain which statement correlates with what book in the Bibliography, and there in you STILL don’t know what page that statement came from. Had he given the page in the bibliography this would have been alright, but such was not the case. The second contention with the book is that although the author does note some of the incisive issues that are taking place within society, and rightly so, the author doesn’t go far enough and only does a cursory examination. One could make a sound argument that a large portion of issues stems from the social engineering in education, which is wholly verifiable if one takes the time to look. It’s certainly not the only reason, but a leading one. In fact, the very work that the author cited of John Taylor Gatto, throughout his books shows at length many references for the system having been engineered this way. It wasn’t random that America’s education is failing, and that critical thinking skills have been lost – It was meant to BE that way. Gatto’s work is a crucial start to glean this. Moreover, the work of whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt, who was a former Senior Policy Adviser for the Office Of Education Research & Improvement in the Reagan Administration adds more fuel to the fire, and sheds more light onto the darkness. Her intriguing book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down Of America, is a phenomenal foray into the insidious roots of this broken system. Also noteworthy is a gentleman who came out pulling no punches on this very topic named Professor Patrick Deneen. In fact, in a lucid article entitled “How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture,” he states the following: “We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our education system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free process and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.” Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient without any real obligations or devotions.”[3] Such is the true nature of the beast. Not only is society being dumbed down, but culture as a whole is being eviscerated, one child at a time. In any case, Sasse does provide some solutions to these problems and they are worthy of consideration. The solutions that the author offers are not only practical, but much-needed. It would be prudent for those seeking to understand more thoroughly how all these issues came to be to not only read The vanishing American Adult but also to read up on the work of Gatto, Iserbyt, and Deneen. Complement this piece not only with the prior authors’ work, but also with Dr. Joseph P. Farrell’s and Gary Lawrence’s Rotten To The Common Core, and Gatto’s books called Weapons Of Mass Instruction, A Different Kind Of Teacher, The Underground History Of America, and John Holt’s How Children Learn, and one will begin to have a firm foundation upon which to grasp the totality an depth of this disturbing issue and even some possible solutions. The myriad ramifications of this book abound, and should be ruminated upon at length. If the America of the future is to have a firm foundation, at present, action needs to take place, with an ironclad education at the vanguard. All individuals that value Freedom need to realize their fullest potential in mind, body and soul. The future that awaits seems rather bleak, and it will remain bleak as long as ignorance remains. That is why being proactive should be a daily priority. Change starts with the individual – every single one of us. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. For if we don’t take time to teach our children, kit and kin about the lessons of life, a great majority will arrive at life’s end having learned nothing. __________________________________________ Footnotes: [1] Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult, p. 250. [2] Ibid., p. 71. [3] Professor Patrick Deneen, How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Shirkman

    Ben Sasse is smart. He's winsome. And I love his vision of raising kids into adults who shape their nation into what it could become. It's a daunting task, but it's possible. As Sasse says, before we disagree about political solutions, we need to agree on the problems. One of the main problems is that we're failing our children in helping them become the type of people who are independent, well-rounded, gritty problem solvers. I want to raise the type of kids Sasse envisions. He provides plenty Ben Sasse is smart. He's winsome. And I love his vision of raising kids into adults who shape their nation into what it could become. It's a daunting task, but it's possible. As Sasse says, before we disagree about political solutions, we need to agree on the problems. One of the main problems is that we're failing our children in helping them become the type of people who are independent, well-rounded, gritty problem solvers. I want to raise the type of kids Sasse envisions. He provides plenty of practical advice as he shares his vision.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J & J

    Sasse has some excellent observations and he would be spot on if he hadn't forgotten how much the world has changed in the last 100 years. This felt more like a "here's how I've been parenting so you should do it this way too" kind of book versus what the title and description display. I say this with a mutual agreement and respect for many of his parenting techniques, as I live by those mantras as well but I didn't want or expect this book to be parenting advice.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jody Curtis

    Sure, I like this book's message: Teach our kids to be responsible and resilient adults; avoid the pitfalls of Neverland and Affluenza. I also liked Wendy Mogel's "Blessing of A Skinned Knee," which in 2001 beautifully put forth this philosophy. Ben Sasse is much more intriguing when he gets into the weeds about creating a list of books that his homeschooled kids should read in preparation of "coming of age." (One of his multiple post-graduate degrees is from St. John's College--the Great Books Sure, I like this book's message: Teach our kids to be responsible and resilient adults; avoid the pitfalls of Neverland and Affluenza. I also liked Wendy Mogel's "Blessing of A Skinned Knee," which in 2001 beautifully put forth this philosophy. Ben Sasse is much more intriguing when he gets into the weeds about creating a list of books that his homeschooled kids should read in preparation of "coming of age." (One of his multiple post-graduate degrees is from St. John's College--the Great Books school.) He's in sync with the Jeffersonian notion, "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people." Yes, there is great wisdom to be gleaned from those who came before us. His book list is categorized (eg, God, Greeks, Markets, Tyrants) and covers good deep things (eg, human nature, justice, journeys). I love that he references the Gutenberg revolution and Nicholas Negroponte's "Being Digital." But his days as a Johnnie skew his list too far into the Dead Old White Guys zone. He admits his list lacks content from last 30 years. That's a big flaw if we're trying to promote #Adulting to screen-dwelling kids who have twitter-length attention spans, and were born into a world of algorithmically tailored social media (#fakenews). But, as he says, this list is a conversation starter. Our once-common baseline of history and humanities, necessary for a functioning democracy, has eroded and Sasse urges that we strengthen it. Totally agree. In his words: "The truly free have always required literacy. There is a reason why teaching slaves to read has historically been illegal across slave holding cultures. And there are thus reasons why America's descent toward functional illiteracy as the digital age flowers should frighten all of us. For the watchfulness and thoughtfulness of fully formed adults is the only lasting guardian of liberty."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    "These damn lazy millennials want universal healthcare and affordable higher education...don't they know that's [email protected]!1" /s

  26. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Kyriosity

    Very politiciany. The book would have been half as long if he hadn't stopped to ever so carefully nuance every single thing he said. I'm in agreement with Sasse (I always want to pronounce it "Sassy") much of the time, and I could see myself possibly voting for him if/when the time comes, but he's just a little too shiny for my tastes. EDIT: Also, the lame Photoshop job on the cover bugs me every time I look at it. 😆

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I couldn't be bother to make it past the first few pages of the introduction. The author quickly claims that this isn't going to be a "get off my lawn" rant, but the nature of his first examples provided too much evidence that he doesn't have a very sophisticated vision of "the problem". Specifically, he says:  But first, we need to agree on the problem.   I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crisis without parallel in our history. We are living in an America of I couldn't be bother to make it past the first few pages of the introduction. The author quickly claims that this isn't going to be a "get off my lawn" rant, but the nature of his first examples provided too much evidence that he doesn't have a very sophisticated vision of "the problem". Specifically, he says:  But first, we need to agree on the problem.   I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crisis without parallel in our history. We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one. Many don’t see a reason even to try.First, by limiting the diagnosis to "our entire nation" shows that he hasn't seen the parallels in other nations, some of which have substantially different cultures. Second, by focusing his attention on youth, he's blind to the much more worrisome trends that pervade the rest society. I suspect his analysis and conclusions will be congruent with Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (which he cites), although less disciplined in its academic analysis. That Sasse choose not to include footnotes is a cheat: he blames his editor, ignoring the simple solution of putting footnotes on a website instead of inside the book. I don't doubt that he has thought long and carefully about our country's problems, but that doesn't mean he sees beyond his own tribal blinders. (I avoid reading rants from the blinkered left, too, for what that's worth.) For someone who doesn't have already have a conclusion they are (consciously or unconsciously) seeking to defend, it is pretty easy to find evidence that his critique of young adults is just plain wrong. For example, the rate at which teens have given birth has halved in the past decade, and it has dropped by 67% since 1991. Source: CDC: About Teen Pregnancy The number of teens who have tried smoking has decreased from 70% to under 30% since 1991. The number who rarely or never wear a seatbelt has gone from 25% to 6% in that period. The number that have driven when they've been drinking has fallen from 10% to 5.5%. The number who have carried a weapon to school property has gone from 12% to 4%. (Figures from CDC MMWR Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance 2017.) But perhaps, you may be asking, the decline is in the somewhat older cohort, those horrible Millennials. Well, no. Clearly Sasse didn't do the research. You can find plenty of links here: Millennials: less lame than you thought. Does that sound like "perpetual adolescence"? What it sounded like to me was an elaborate condemnation based on a bunch of unexamined stereotypes. I wasn't surprised, even though I was saddened: both the right and the left rely on ideological worldviews, but the right has a larger number that are hostile to secular social progress, so denying evidence — or refusing to examine the data — is going to be crucial. Because Sasse has read widely (whilst clearly indulging in his god-given evolution-given cognitive biases), I do find his inclusion of sources and a bibliography tempting: I might skim it for titles to read instead of his. (Update: I've got plenty of other sources for my reading list, so… nope.) I may be wrong about the whole thing, but I'm not willing to spend my time on reading what he acknowledges (in his "Note on sources and methods") is "obviously" not an academic book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

    Glad I read this book before starting a family--also before the age of Trump convinced me to give up on the idea of America. Sasse disabused me of my latent, millennial skepticism toward American exceptionalism and republican government. More than a policy pamphlet, however, this book works from the ground up--starting with the simple idea that America has always been a country of resilient adults, but that young people today (my age) have opted into a form of perpetual adolescence, shirking all Glad I read this book before starting a family--also before the age of Trump convinced me to give up on the idea of America. Sasse disabused me of my latent, millennial skepticism toward American exceptionalism and republican government. More than a policy pamphlet, however, this book works from the ground up--starting with the simple idea that America has always been a country of resilient adults, but that young people today (my age) have opted into a form of perpetual adolescence, shirking all measure of responsibilities. Sasse believes a free America will only last if its citizens (not subjects) are self-disciplined and self-controlled. Thus, TVYA addresses not public policy but those areas of life through which young Americans can grow in self-reliance: reading, traveling, embracing work pain, etc. These chapters were fun. This book is also very accessible. At times the chapters felt disconnected--perhaps due to the many wide-ranging lessons from history--but Sasse's thesis was not lost on me. Though primarily targeted at parents raising children, I learned a great deal about America's evolution and the hard labor of past generations. I especially recommend it to my fellow twenty-somethings who have begun to lament our county's political quagmire. But really, this books is for anyone wishing to become a good old-fashioned responsible adult.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Clouther

    Ben Sasse is a Republican United States Senator from Nebraska since 2015. At first, I thought this was going to be a really interesting read. Throughout the book, I felt myself agreeing with many of the individual sentences that Sasse wrote. He's highly intelligent so these sentences certainly sound good and are true... in a way. For example, I agree with his advice for middle-class young people to expand your view of the world by traveling and reading classics. Though, I think the latter is mor Ben Sasse is a Republican United States Senator from Nebraska since 2015. At first, I thought this was going to be a really interesting read. Throughout the book, I felt myself agreeing with many of the individual sentences that Sasse wrote. He's highly intelligent so these sentences certainly sound good and are true... in a way. For example, I agree with his advice for middle-class young people to expand your view of the world by traveling and reading classics. Though, I think the latter is more important and financially obtainable for most of the population. Note that our current President is very well-traveled but very poorly read and the result is less than ideal. Also, note that this is not a millennial issue but an American-of-all-ages issue. The problem is that many of Sasse's ideas are actually in contradiction with each other, and more importantly, in contradiction with how he votes in the Senate. He doesn't make an overall argument which is clear or compelling. For example, Sasse states: “I'm a conservative but not because I care very much about the marginal tax rates of the richest Americans, rather I'm a market-oriented localist because I believe in cultural pluralism and I believe in the First Amendment, in voluntarism over compulsion whenever possible, and in as much decentralized decision-making as is conceivably feasible.” There's a lot in this run-on sentence to unpack. First of all, I'm a liberal and I would say that I think capitalism is better than the alternatives (with regulation), and I believe in cultural pluralism and "I believe in the First Amendment, in voluntarism over compulsion whenever possible, and in as much de-centralized decision-making as is conceivably feasible.” I agree with many of these ideas, in whole or in part, so I don't particularly understand why this set of values makes him conservative. Let's break it down a little more. He says, "... I believe in cultural pluralism..." what he's really nodding to is state's rights, not "cultural pluralism,” because in Chapter 5 he makes it pretty clear that the only culture he believes in is the historical Puritan work-driven culture. What makes this ethic superior to say, the European ethic of working to survive, but having ample vacation, family, and sick leave. He leaves this unexplained. Yes, no one likes the entitled younguns' who demand praise and high salaries without earning it and leave work early and write obnoxious emails to superiors. But can we take a minute to discuss the CEOs and bankers who get paid millions even when they fail astronomically, bankrupt their companies, and lose the savings of investors? Can we compare these relative evils? So let's talk more about the millennials who are having trouble in the current economy and compare them to Sasse's grandma who was an exceptional human being that strapped her baby to a plow” and just dealt with all of life's troubles. Can we just embrace that she's a superior person, and not hold everyone else to her standard? Did everyone else behave like her during the Great Depression and just rise to the challenge? No. Suicide rates averaged 12.1 per 100,000 people in the decade prior to the Depression, jumped to 18.9 the year of Wall Street's crash and remained higher than normal throughout the the Great Depression. (from Historical Statistics of the United States: Bicentennial Edition, Colonial Times to 1970, Vol. 1 (Washington DC: 1975), via https://www.shmoop.com/great-depressi....) So maybe we should celebrate that these millennials are surviving at all, especially when so many of them are getting shot at by automatic weapons of war, and worry less about how much they're spending on iPhones- arguably just doing their part for King Capitalism. (Full disclosure: I paid $35 for my iPhone. I do not regard it as a necessity.) I agree with Sasse's anti-consumerism, see Chapter 6. Oh boy, do I! The problem is, I don't think he believes these things as they appear to be in contradiction with his voting record. Also, he states he's "market-oriented." It's as if Sasse doesn't understand how conservative deregulation capitalism works or what drives it. It's extremely confusing and he doesn't sound like a conservative at all in this chapter. NOT AT ALL. But we know how he's voting for big corporations in the Senate right? We know he's just feeding us a bunch of nice-sounding sentences right? He just voted "yes" to rolling back some bank regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act (67-31). Okay, maybe you're thinking that's because he's for "as much de-centralized decision-making as is conceivably feasible.” Um, except, he just voted "Yes," to banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. As anyone who has read about these abortions knows, these abortions are extremely difficult to obtain and expensive- often requiring upfront payments that may not be reimbursed by insurance- and as such almost always involve a problem that developed later in pregnancy and risk the life of the mother. So to be clear, banks should not be well-regulated by the federal government even though they have the power to destroy the entire economy. But the potential life-and-death medical care of an individual pregnant woman should be regulated by the federal government. Personally, I don't think he makes a lot of sincere, persuasive, nuanced, or -let's just say it- "adult" arguments. See his voting record here: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/... https://ballotpedia.org/Ben_Sasse P.S. I'm moving to Nebraska this summer.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I wavered between giving this 3 or 4 stars. I definitely felt like there were a lot of overall points that I agreed with the author, but often he seemed to harken back to how life used to be with almost a wishful nostalgia. There were also parts that were a little slow going for me - times when he focused on the historical context. Overall, however, I agree with his overarching ideas that adolescents today seem to have lost some motivation and hard work ethic. I may have to purchase this book so I wavered between giving this 3 or 4 stars. I definitely felt like there were a lot of overall points that I agreed with the author, but often he seemed to harken back to how life used to be with almost a wishful nostalgia. There were also parts that were a little slow going for me - times when he focused on the historical context. Overall, however, I agree with his overarching ideas that adolescents today seem to have lost some motivation and hard work ethic. I may have to purchase this book so I can highlight and make notes in the margin. I found that I was "bookmarking" too many pages in my library's digital copy!

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