Shaun O'Connell reviews a number of books whose focus is the "loss and tenuous preservation" of cultural values. He detects signs of a cultural crisis in which "literature and American life are increasingly detached" and disturbing indications of a loss of "national consensus," of trust, and perhaps of polity itself. Two hundred years after the signing of the Constitution, he writes, in this year of celebration, we learned in minute detail of the Iran-Contra deceits and duplicities, of government by secret White House junta having replaced the rule of law. Most dismaying of all, we did not appear to be unduly upset by these sordid revelations. This, of course, creates the need for yet another context.



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