The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America is Wracked by Culture Wars by Todd Gitlin (Metropolitan Books, 1995).
This book was cited in a more recent book that I read, and I decided to find out what Dr. Gitlin had to say. Gitlin, a professor of sociology at UC Berkeley, explains the “culture wars” that developed during the 1970s and 80s in the U.S. as a result of polarization between liberal and conservative views of the world. While he takes a generally liberal view, he spreads the blame around, specifically charging “identity politics” as a force for further polarization which reduced our national capacity for common dreams. Having not been in academia during most of that time (other than 4 years studying engineering), this book filled a gap in my understanding of what was happening in academic social sciences circles that led to the phenomenon of “political correctness.” His description of the increasing gulf between rich and poor, and the inability to muster the political will to solve problems, sounds very familiar, even though it was written almost 20 years ago. Put this on your reading list if you are trying to make up for a lack of a good liberal arts education, like me.