Archive - April 24, 2009

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Books That Bred [and Explain] the Peace Corps

Books That Bred [and Explain] the Peace Corps

During the 1950s, two social and political impulses swept across the United States. One impulse that characterized the decade was detailed in two best-selling books of the times, the 1955 novel by Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and the non-fiction The Organization Man, written by William H. Whyte and published in 1956. These books looked at the “American way of life” and how men got ahead on the job and in society. Both are bleak looks at the mores of the corporate world. These books were underscored by Ayn Rand’s philosophy as articulated in such novels as Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957. Every man, philosophized Rand, was an end in himself. He must work for rational self-interest, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. Then in 1958 came a second impulse first expressed in the novel The Ugly American by William Lederer and . . .

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