In this brilliant, controversial, and profoundly original book, Benjamin R. Barber fundamentally alters the terms of the current debate over the value of opportunity in American education, politics, and culture. Barber argues that the fashionable rallying cries of cultural literacy and political correctness completely miss the point of what is wrong with our society. While we fret about "the closing of the American mind" we utterly ignore the closing of American schools. While we worry about Japanese technology, we fail to tap the more fundamental ideological resources on which our country was founded. As Barber argues, the future of America lies not in competition but in education. Education in America can and must embrace both democracy and excellence. Barber demonstrates persuasively that our national story has always comprised an intermingling of diverse, contradictory, often subversive voices. Multiculturalism has, from the very start, defined America. From his gripping portrait of America poised on the brink of unprecedented change, Barber offers a daringly original program for effecting change: for teaching democracy depends not only on the preeminence of education but on a resurgence of true community service. A ringing challenge to the complacency, cynicism, and muddled thinking of our time that will change the way you feel about being an American citizen.