No picture of life can have any veracity that does not admit the odious facts.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Fate.”

For over twenty-five years, the historian and cultural critic Christopher Lasch has rather specialized in anatomizing—exaggerating, some would say—certain odious facts about American culture. Already in 1965, in his widely admired book The New Radicalism in America, 1889-1963, Professor Lasch deplored the “decline of the sense of community” in American society. Subtitled “The Intellectual as Social Type,” this collection of biographical vignettes was meant to register the “peculiarly fragmented character of modern society” by examining the life and work of social reformers and pontificators from Jane Addams and Randolph Bourne through Lincoln Steffens, Herbert Croly, and Walter Lippmann. It ended with a polemical chapter called “The...

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