The Fate of America

The Fate of America is an in-depth historical and cultural study of what Jung called America’s “heroic ideal,” the driving force of its national character. In shaping the American experience, this ideal is very much the source of both America’s greatness and its problems. Michael Gellert argues that this ideal cannot adequately meet the complex challenges of the modern world, yet America remains fixated upon it. Although the nation’s original heroic ideal as articulated by its founders had a powerful redeeming and guiding vision, Americans are at a loss as to what this means in a contemporary context. The author explores what the nation must focus on in its public discourse and in the education of its citizens in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The Fate of America

  • profiles the development of the American heroic ideal from the Founding Fathers and legendary frontiersmen and cowboys to astronauts, athletes, and other contemporary heroes
  • discusses America’s crisis of heroism and the threat it poses to democracy
  • addresses what would be involved in redefining this heroic ideal—particularly in a spiritual context—as we enter a new era of history

“Our nation leads the world in the race for ever-increasing technological capacity and excellence. Why is it we are not equally dominant in the race for spiritual excellence? This fascinating, insightful, psychological profile of the American psyche offers answers that both enlighten and stimulate.”

Mario Cuomo


“A large-scale analysis of this country on a par with Tocqueville . . . an important book. It raises serious questions about our country, makes perceptive observations about our culture, and provokes us to look inside ourselves in a critical, yet constructive, way.”

Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States


“A broad-ranging, cogently argued, and provocative critique that has taken on a whole new dimension since September 11.”

Library Journal