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The One and the Many

America’s Struggle for the Common Good

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674638280

Publication Date: 10/15/1998


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A fine Niebuhrian sermon, evoking the ’gossamer fabric’ that has sustained Americans not as multiculturalists or superpatriots, or as Keynesians or Friedmanites, but as people who are free.—Jim Sleeper, New York Times Book Review

The book’s last sentence is like the spoonful of medicine distilled from Mr. Marty’s persuasive argument: ’The advice for every citizen who wishes to participate in American life and its necessary arguments: start associating, telling, hearing, and keep talking.’—Larry Witham, Washington Times

It is always dicey to predict how the history of the current era will be written a century hence, but anyone attempting a history of the United States in the twentieth century will doubtless have to account for the paroxysms of our adjustments to pluralism. The story thus far has not been particularly edifying. The public square has degenerated into a melange of identity politics and a cacophony of voices, all of them raised to the level of shouting. The implications for social policy--not to mention general comity--are enormous, so when someone of Martin E. Marty’s intellectual breadth and stature turns his attention to the topic, it is welcome news indeed.—Randall Balmer, Journal of American History

[Marty] guides the general reader through the interplay of unity and pluralism--the striving for ’community’ amidst centripetal forces--to a broader understanding of ’association’ as motif and force in American culture. He shows how a cohesion of mind and affection emerges from shared experience, restoring the soul of the body politic...A valuable study.Library Journal

The One and the Manyexamines the tensions in public discourse in the States, growing more deadlocked as different ethnic, religious and political groups assert their own individual importance. While differences are to be relished, there must also be a way in which a mutual conversation between these different groups can blossom. [Marty’s] thesis will interest people in Britain who are also questioning the idea of a ’common good’ in a pluralist society.Church Times

Here, addressing the thorny issue of cultural diversity in American public life, Marty displays the clear thinking, elegant prose, and facility to cut to the heart of tough issues that are the hallmarks of his reputation. For anyone interested in public philosophy, multiculturalism, communitarianism, minority rights (all terms that Marty uses sparingly), this is a must-read...[Marty’s] purpose here is to show the pitfalls of the easy answers of both totalists and tribalists, and to demonstrate the necessity of the hard work of self-reflection and engagement to find the correct distance. This inspiring work deserves the respect of both camps and may even win over converts from both.—Joanne R. Bauer, Ethics and International Affairs

Awards & Accolades

  • Martin E. Marty Is a 1997 National Humanities Medal Winner

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