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Bowling Alone

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Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work -- but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, Bowling Alone, which The Economist hailed as "a prodigious achievement."

Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans' changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures -- whether they be PTA, church, or political parties -- have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.

Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam's Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.
 

Photograph by Martha Stewart

Robert D. Putnam is the Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and a former Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Nationally honored as a leading humanist and a renowned scientist, he has written fourteen books, including the bestselling Our Kids and Bowling Alone, and has consulted for the last four US Presidents. In 2012, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities. His research program, the Saguaro Seminar, is dedicated to fostering civic engagement in America. Visit RobertDPutnam.com.

“Putnam is technically a Harvard social scientist, but a better description might be poet laureate of civil society.”

– Jason DeParle, The New York Times

“An ambitious book . . .  Bowling Alone is a prodigious achievement. Mr. Putnam’s scholarship is wide-ranging, his intelligence luminous, his tone modest, his prose unpretentious and frequently funny.”

– The Economist

“A mountainous, momentous work . . . . [Putnam’s] put his finger on an important sociological development.”

– David Nyhan, The Boston Globe

Bowling Alone provides important new data on the trends in civic engagement and social capital. . . . It is a formidable achievement. It will henceforth be impossible to discuss these issues knowledgeably without reading Putnam’s book and thinking about it.”

– Paul Starr, The New Republic

“Crammed with statistics and analyses that seek to document civic decline in the United States. . . .  Bowling Alone is to be commended for stimulating awareness of civic engagement and providing a wealth of data on trends in contemporary America.”
 

– Francis Fukuyama, The Washington Post

More books from this author: Robert D. Putnam