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An unexceptional book

Observations about American exceptionalism go back to the birth of the republic itself. Alan Ryan finds that Seymour Martin Lipset's latest book offers little new on the subject, but welcomes its conclusion that Americans worry a great deal more than they ought to

By Alan Ryan   April 1996

Seymour Martin lipset is as well equipped as anyone could be to answer the old question: is America special? The First New Nation provided one best-selling answer to that question some 20 years ago: an unequivocal yes. Both there, and in other books and essays since, he has elaborated the answer in the only way possible, by comparing American attitudes to politics, unions, welfare, violence, income distribution, individual responsibility and so on, with the attitudes of the British, the French, the Japanese, the Germans, and the Canadians. He uses many different surveys, but particularly two rounds of the World Values…

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