The Lost City

4 April 2015
An analysis and review of Alan Ehrenhalt’s The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America.

The author of this paper analyzed Alan Ehrenhalt’s “The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of community in America” and shows how Ehrenhalt challenges many of the commonly held assumptions and culturally held beliefs about progress and how the idea of progress has changed throughout the course of this American Century for Americans. The paper notes that in many ways the book can be seen as an elegy to the 1950s. He feels that Ehrenhalt’s major reason to write the book was to argue that this decade was not nearly as bad as we like to think it was. Even if it were not the ideal decade in many ways, it did contain virtues that were still well worth praising because they offered to Americans something precious – a sense of community – that it would have been worth giving up something important in exchange.
Ehrenhalt demonstrates his thesis by concentrating on several neighborhoods in Chicago in the 1950s, evoking the character of the time and place as well as that of his non-fictional characters with the skill of a novelist. But all of this beautiful writing cannot hide the controversial and for many unpalatable nature of his thesis, which is that people want rules, regulations, and authority figures, that we all desperately want someone out there telling us what is right and what is wrong and what will happen to us if we stray from a path of moral virtue that someone else has defined for us.
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