Reviews for The American Experiment

by David M. Rubenstein

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Influential Americans talk about the nations past and future.Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chair of a private equity firm and an award-winning philanthropist who sits on the board of many arts, medical, educational, and historical associations (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Council on Foreign Relations, the National Gallery of Art, and the Brookings Institution), follows a volume of conversations with noted historians with a similar collection featuring prominent intellectuals and cultural figures, including Walter Isaacson, Jill Lepore, David McCullough, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Philip Deloria; sports figures Billie Jean King and Cal Ripken; filmmaker Ken Burns; musician Wynton Marsalis; and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. These conversationswarm, engaging, and informativehelp Rubenstein point up Americas particular qualities (Americas Thirteen Key Genes) that have made the whole American Experiment work even though, facing significant challenges, the country has fallen short. Among these genes are democracy itself, voting, equality (which, he admits, is still aspirational), freedom of speech, rule of law, separation of powers, peaceful transfer of power, capitalism and entrepreneurship, immigration, diversity, the enduring American dream, and a culture in which individuals must be allowed to pursue their talents and ambitions, largely unfettered by central control or government interference, with merit and skill prevailing to the greatest extent possible. When Rubenstein asked acclaimed actor Rita Moreno, a Puerto Rican immigrant, to define her legacy, she responded, I would like people to think of me only in one way: she never gave up. Perseverance. Likewise, according to Sotomayor, People only follow those they think are passionate. So you have to possess passion and, second, commitment driven by dedication and hard work. You do not get anywhere unless you work hard. Rubenstein offers a largely uncritical, celebratory view of America, as did most respondents to a 2020 Harris Poll (included as an appendix) that the author solicited.Friendly talks with exceptional individuals. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Influential Americans talk about the nation’s past and future. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chair of a private equity firm and an award-winning philanthropist who sits on the board of many arts, medical, educational, and historical associations (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Council on Foreign Relations, the National Gallery of Art, and the Brookings Institution), follows a volume of conversations with noted historians with a similar collection featuring prominent intellectuals and cultural figures, including Walter Isaacson, Jill Lepore, David McCullough, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Philip Deloria; sports figures Billie Jean King and Cal Ripken; filmmaker Ken Burns; musician Wynton Marsalis; and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. These conversations—warm, engaging, and informative—help Rubenstein point up America’s particular qualities (“America’s Thirteen Key Genes”) that “have made the whole American Experiment work” even though, facing significant challenges, the country has fallen short. Among these genes are democracy itself, voting, equality (which, he admits, is still aspirational), freedom of speech, rule of law, separation of powers, peaceful transfer of power, capitalism and entrepreneurship, immigration, diversity, the enduring American dream, and a culture in which individuals must be allowed “to pursue their talents and ambitions, largely unfettered by central control or government interference, with merit and skill prevailing to the greatest extent possible.” When Rubenstein asked acclaimed actor Rita Moreno, a Puerto Rican immigrant, to define her legacy, she responded, “I would like people to think of me only in one way: she never gave up. Perseverance.” Likewise, according to Sotomayor, “People only follow those they think are passionate. So you have to possess passion and, second, commitment driven by dedication and hard work. You do not get anywhere unless you work hard.” Rubenstein offers a largely uncritical, celebratory view of America, as did most respondents to a 2020 Harris Poll (included as an appendix) that the author solicited. Friendly talks with exceptional individuals. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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