Have Americans slid backward since the sunny, prosperous years after World War II, as so many feel? To find out, an English-born historian compares our recent past with earlier times, and in the process learns something about our likely course into the next century.
When Michael Elliott, who was born in Liverpool in 1947, first visited America in the early 1970s, he was deeply struck by the generosity, optimism, and confidence he found. Some twelve years later he returned as a reporter for the Economist and discovered a very different mood: All about him was talk of decline and a yearning for the years just after World War II, which, everyone seemed to think, represented what should be the normal state of things. Read more »