Who Are We?

Who Are We?

The Challenges to America's National Identity

In his seminal work The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington argued provocatively and presciently that with the end of the cold war, "civilizations" were replacing ideologies as the new fault lines in international politics.

Now in his controversial new work, Who Are We?, Huntington focuses on an identity crisis closer to home as he examines the impact other civilizations and their values are having on our own country.

America was founded by British settlers who brought with them a distinct culture, says Huntington, including the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religious commitment, and respect for law. The waves of immigrants that later came to the United States gradually accepted these values and assimilated into America's Anglo-Protestant culture. More recently, however, our national identity has been eroded by the problems of assimilating massive numbers of primarily Hispanic immigrants and challenged by issues such as bilingualism, multiculturalism, the devaluation of citizenship, and the "denationalization" of American elites.

September 11 brought a revival of American patriotism and a renewal of American identity, but already there are signs that this revival is fading. Huntington argues the need for us to reassert the core values that make us Americans. Timely and thought-provoking, Who Are We? is an important book that is certain to shape our national conversation about who we are.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684870540 | 
  • December 2005
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Crisis of National Identity

Salience: Are the Flags Still There?

Charles Street, the principal thoroughfare on Boston's Beacon Hill, is a comfortable street bordered by four-story brick buildings with apartments above antique stores and other shops on the ground level. At one time on one block American flags regularly hung over the entrances to the United States Post Office and the liquor store. Then the Post Office stopped displaying the flag, and on September 11, 2001, the liquor store flag flew alone. Two weeks later seventeen flags flew on this block, in addition to a huge Stars and Stripes suspended across... see more

About the Author

Samuel P. Huntington
Photo Credit: Jon Chase/Harvard University News Office

Samuel P. Huntington

Samuel P. Huntington was the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University, where he was also the director of the John M. Olin Institute for Stategic Studies and the chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He was the director of security planning for the National Security Council in the Carter administration, the founder and coeditor of Foreign Policy, and the president of the American Political Science Association.

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