Cover image for Restless nation : starting over in America
Restless nation : starting over in America
Jasper, James M., 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 295 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JV6450 .J37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In Restless Nation , James M. Jasper isolates a narrative that lies very close to the core of the American character. From colonial times to the present day, Americans have always had a deep-rooted belief in the "fresh start"--a belief that still has Americans moving from place to place faster than the citizens of any other nation.

Author Notes

James M. Jasper is the author or editor of several books

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Jasper (The Art of Moral Protest) travels across the American psyche to explore our unique infatuation with movement and personal reinvention. Immigrants wanted fiercely to believe the fantastic promises of 17th-century Colonial publicists as much as their progeny want to believe contemporary boomtown promoters: move to (or across) America, and you might strike it rich! To the author, the resulting restlessness undergirds the cult of individualism as well as conservative, antigovernment politics in America. Immigrants left their homes to escape intrusive governments and cultures, and today Americans still want the freedom to go where they can do as they please. This fluidity contributes to the dynamism of U.S. society but ensures a weak sense of community. Jasper leans a bit heavily on the belief that men want to get up and go while women are more rooted, but Restless Nation is an engaging essay on why we move so much. Recommended for public libraries.DDuncan Stewart, State Historical Society of Iowa Lib., Iowa City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is an occasionally insightful but ultimately frustrating treatment of the essential restlessness in "the American character." Social commentators since Tocqueville have noted that Americans are prone to feverish movement and fresh starts. Icons of American mobility range from the Mayflower to the Mayflower moving van. Jasper traces this to the US's heritage as "a nation of immigrants," finding further manifestations in literature, in name-changing and personal reinvention, or in divorce rates. Jasper is at his best when enumerating the social costs that Americans pay for their faith in markets and for their myths of individualism. But finally, the book's anecdotal quality ill suits its sweeping ambition to treat anything as immense as "the national character." Essays on American character have fallen from fashion, Jasper acknowledges, though in his own method he has not reckoned with the reasons. Not researched deeply enough to explain the genesis of the national character, the book lacks a compelling theory of culture and ideology, and as a catalog of the manifestations of American restlessness, it rehearses a litany mostly familiar. For collections in US culture, immigration, sociology, history, and American studies. M. F. Jacobson Yale University

Table of Contents

1 The Land of the Dream
2 The Most Likely to Succeed
3 New Places, Names, Selves
4 Boom Land
5 The Great Lottery
6 An Alien Power
7 The Culture of Flight
8 Fleeing the Nest
Conclusion: Are Americans Ready to Settle Down?
Suggestions for Further Reading