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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

May 26, 1991|Alex Raksin

A DREAM DEFERRED: America's Discontent and the Search for a New Democratic Ideal by Philip Slater (Beacon Press: $19.95; 222 pp.) A classic example of good timing, Philip Slater's 1970 book, "The Pursuit of Loneliness," sold half a million copies because it explained how the hollow feeling then afflicting many Americans grew out of an isolating social culture. "A Dream Deferred," in contrast, is a classic example of bad timing: a compendium of the spacey, Eastern quotes found in '60s cult classics (Iqbal informs us that "in freedom (life) becomes a boundless ocean") and the Millenarian melodramas of "radical transformation" enacted in '80s new-age books. Slater's heart is in the right place (he wants America to be a moral leader again) but this book--dismissing advocates of tradition as "anticommunist fanatics" and blaming government registrars for the fact that the poor don't vote--will appeal more to those who prefer the comfort of scapegoats than to those searching for solutions that transcend liberal and conservative rhetoric.

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