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The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America


This classic account of the traditional upper class in America traces its origins, lifestyles, and political and social attitudes from the time of Theodore Roosevelt to that of John F. Kennedy. Sociologist E. Digby Baltzell describes the problems of exclusion and prejudice within the community of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (or WASPs, an acronym he coined) and predicts with amazing accuracy what will happen when this inbred group is forced to share privilege and power with talented members of minority groups. The book may actually hold more interest today than when it was first published. New generations of readers can resonate all the more to this masterly and beautifully written work that provides sociological understanding of its engrossing subject.-Robert K. Merton, Columbia University The documentation and illustration in the book make it valuable as social history, quite apart from any theoretical hypothesis. As such, it sketches the rise of the WASP penchant for country clubs, patriotic societies and genealogy. It traces the history of anti-Semitism in America.It describes the intellectual conflict between Social Darwinism and the environmental social science founded half a century ago by men like John Dewey, Charles A. Beard, Thorstein Veblen, Franz Boas and Frederick Jackson Turner. In short, The Protestant Establishment is a wide-ranging, intelligent and provocative book.-Alvin Toffler, New York Times Book Review The Protestant Establishment has many virtues that lift it above the level we have come to expect in works of contemporary social and cultural analysis. It is clearly and convincingly written.-H. Stuart Hughes, New York Review of Books Hide synopsis

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Reviews of The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America

Overall customer rating: 3.000

Brilliant, Insightful -- and Hopelessly Dated

by JohnHazard on Nov 12, 2009

E. Digby Baltzell taught at Penn during my college days there. He was a popular professor and is credited with coining the term "WASP". Baltzell was one of the first sociologists to study the American upper class as a legitimate cultural sub-set. Before him, most books on rich Americans were gossipy tittle-tattles with no underlying examination of upper-class history or ethos. This book examines the rise of the WASP aristocracy,but fails to envision the future of America's old establishment. Baltzell was not clairvoyant; he could not foresee that the old-rich would lose their power, authority and imfluence on politics, finance and popular American culture. For this reason, I'd recommend this book only to readers of out-dated sociology.

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