A Culture of Confidence
Politics, Performance and the Idea of America

By Nelson Richard

302 pages, 6 x 9 inches

978-1-60473-575-8 Paper $25.00D

Paper, $25.00

A study of contemporary America's hunger for confidence and the politics of performance that shapes our institutions and our daily lives.

Compelled by the ubiquitous power of mass entertainment, politics has adopted the theatrical language and the rhetoric of performance as a strategy for winning public favor. We have come to expect the politicians we elect to be performers. Now, more than at any other time in American history, we conceive the world of politics to be a world of theatre in which every political campaigner must sell us something.

In this persuasive study of culture politics, Richard Nelson examines the role of confidence and doubt as the cement that holds the nation together. He explores confidence in its dual meanings-of trusting faith and of deception, guile, and illusion. His book confirms that our national identity is deeply imbued by both. One binds the populace through the need to believe in a hopeful and positive future. The other leads to national crises through disillusionment and doubt.

Nelson argues that through the influence of the artist, the advertiser, and the actor, as well as from the liberal-conservative tension that exists in the dual meanings of confidence, we derive our idea of America.

Richard Nelson is a professor of history at the University of Maine at Machias.

302 pages, 6 x 9 inches