The cover of "The All Consuming Nation"

The All-Consuming Nation

Mark Lytle ’66

In this analysis of America’s “postwar consumer democracy” from Oxford University Press, a professor emeritus of history at Bard College examines its costs and weighs the ongoing critiques to it. Reservations about the U.S. system of consumption, he writes, fall into three major categories: “the failure to eliminate or substantially mitigate persistent and often severe equality; the spiritual inadequacies of a materialistic society; and, most critically, the environmental destructiveness of an energy-intensive, mass-consumption economy that strives to ‘improve on nature.’” Lytle’s analysis includes discussion of such factors as international geopolitics, the shift from brick-and-mortar retailers to online shopping, and how goods’ planned obsolescence drives consumption. The author’s previous works include America’s Uncivil Wars: The Sixties Era from Elvis to the Fall of Richard Nixon and The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement.

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