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 his website.
Shaylyn Romney Garrett is a writer and award-winning social entrepreneur. She is a founding contributor to “Weave: The Social Fabric Project,” an Aspen Institute initiative. She also contributed to Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell’s American Grace. Shaylyn holds a degree in Government from Harvard University, and is a returned Peace Corps volunteer. Visit her website.
Yancey Strickler is an author and entrepreneur. He is the cofounder and former CEO of Kickstarter, the author of This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World, and the creator of Bentoism. Yancey is a Distinguished Fellow at the Drucker Institute, a World Economic Young Global Leader, one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People and Fortune’s “40 under 40.” Yancey cofounded the artist resource The Creative Independent, the record label eMusic Selects, and an audio app called Micd, and he advises CEOs, activists, and artists around the world. Yancey began his career as a music critic in New York City and grew up on a farm in Clover Hollow, Virginia.
“In a sweeping yet remarkably accessible book, Mr. Putnam and Ms. Garrett provide a crucial missing ingredient in contemporary social commentary: They lay out a sociology of success that, drawing on our history, can help us think concretely about how to enable a revival of American life.” — Yuval Levin, The Wall Street Journal
“This pivotal moment isn’t just the result of four years of Donald Trump. It’s the culmination of 50 years of social decay. The Upswing, a remarkable new book by Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett, puts this situation in stark relief.” — David Brooks
Deep and accelerating inequality; unprecedented political polarization; vitriolic public discourse; a fraying social fabric; public and private narcissism—Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: This is the worst of times.
But we’ve been here before. During the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarized, and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However as the twentieth century opened, America became—slowly, unevenly, but steadily—more egalitarian, more cooperative, more generous; a society on the upswing, more focused on our responsibilities to one another and less focused on our narrower self-interest. Sometime during the 1960s, however, these trends reversed, leaving us in today’s disarray.
In a sweeping overview of more than a century of history, drawing on his inimitable combination of statistical analysis and storytelling, Robert Putnam analyzes a remarkable confluence of trends that brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again. He draws inspiring lessons for our time from an earlier era, when a dedicated group of reformers righted the ship, putting us on a path to becoming a society once again based on community. Engaging, revelatory, and timely, this is Putnam’s most ambitious work yet, a fitting capstone to a brilliant career.