Cover image for The first universal nation : leading indicators and ideas about the surge of America in the 1990s
The first universal nation : leading indicators and ideas about the surge of America in the 1990s
Wattenberg, Ben J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press ; Toronto : Collier Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, [1991]

Physical Description:
xiv, 418 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Notes to indicators " : p. 390-391.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HB3505 .W28 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Not since the end of World War II have the fates of nations been so unpredictable. With respect to the USA, many forecasters have predicted that the 1990s will be fraught with hardship and decline. This book argues that despite current problems, the USA is still a dynamic and healthy nation that is ready to take a great leap forward both at home and abroad in the coming decade. The source of this strength, the author believes, lies in the rich diversity of cultures and backgrounds that the citizens of the republic bring to the task of shaping its future.

Author Notes

Joseph Ben Zion Wattenberg (August 26, 1933 - June 28, 2015), known as Ben J. Wattenberg, was an American author, commentator and demographer. He was an aide and speechwriter to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968, and served as an adviser to Hubert Humphrey's 1970 Senate race. Wattenberg was a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He was appointed to various committees and commissions by Presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, as well as by then-Speaker Tom Foley. Wattenberg died on June 28, 2015 from complications following surgery.

Wattenberg's written works included: The First Universal Nation, 1991; Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, 2004; Values Matter Most, 1995; and Fighting Words: A Tale of How Liberals Created Neo-Conservatism, 2008.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Consider this: LBJ's old speechwriter touts the Great Society of the 1960s and rails against his party's leftist tilt since then, all in a staccato syntax. Wattenberg's point? Demographic trends are positive, not negative. Item: poverty is shrinking (slowly), immigration helps the country (if we let skilled people in), the environment is getting cleaner (if not yet squeaky clean). Conclusion: the U.S., a knockout winner over the Soviet Union, is on its way to realizing its manifest destiny at last. Only this time, manifest destiny isn't territorial, it's social--melding the world's peoples into a new, universal nation that is prosperous at home and culturally imitated abroad. Do his columns always sound like hectoring speeches? Does mulling over census data make Wattenberg this optimistic about the U.S. future? You bet. Buy his book, as you must every high-profile columnist's collected works. To be indexed. ~--Gilbert Taylor

Library Journal Review

As the nation teeters on the brink of a recession and a possible war in the Middle East, Wattenberg is back with another upbeat look at the American condition in the tradition of the The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong ( LJ 9/15/84). He says predictions of a U.S. decline are false and concludes that America, the ``first universal nation,'' will get better in the 1990s. This is a matter of interpretation, of course, but Wattenberg provides plenty of documentary support for his views, supplementing his prose with page-long groupings of statistical tables covering 26 different ``indicators'' in areas like immigration, crime, values, spending, and freedom. The rest of the book contains an intriguing blend of recycled syndicated columns, memoirs, analysis, and futurism. This lively and provocative title is recommended for popular collections.--Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.