he pretends to represent—that is, thenAmerican lower-middle class. He is onnthe editorial board and is part-owner ofnthe shrillest weekly of the intellectualnleft, The Nation, an associate of InnThese Times, a Chicago-based socialistnweekly, and a founding father of thenBarry Commoner Citizens Party, whichndid not have enough citizens to getnmore than 0.21% oi the vote in the recentnelection. If those are convincingncredentials, then Terkel indeed has hisnfinger on the grassroots pulse.nOne cliche oft used by Terkel whilenplugging his latest book on the talk-showncircuit is that people tell him after henhas interviewed them, “I didn’t know Infelt that way.” The self-serving implicationnof Terkel’s comment implies that henhas somehow plumbed some mysteriousnpsychic depth of which even his subjectsnwere unaware. That’s not necessarily so.nI was interviewed by Terkel and appearednas Mike LeFever in the first chapternof his book. Working. I came acrossnas dispirited and bitter. It’s how I feltnat that particular moment. I felt differentna week later, and a year later morendifferent still. At the time of the interviewn(1971) I was working as a laborer inna steel plant and there were rumors thatnit was going to close down. (It did.) I hadna grammar-school education, was 38nyears old, had two kids to take care of andnno prospects for the future. Mix wellnwith a few shots of bourbon, a few beersnand a seemingly sympathetic presencenand the bitter feelings just pour out withnno attention paid to the tape recorder. Itnmakes for good journalistic copy and itnmight be great for pop sociologists, butnin the ebb and flow of human currentsnit’s nothing to count on as a statistic orneven as a set feeling or trend. A nurse’snaide, in the same book, was portrayed asna gum-popping teenager with a heartnthat was cold and indifferent to the painsnand imminent deaths of her patients.nLater, this young lady went on to becomena very warm and dedicated registerednnurse. About five years after Workingnwas published, it toured as a stage play.nI was portrayed as a violent hardhatnbrute and the nurse as cynical and cruel.nNo matter the years of change —thenplay, the counterfeit reality and thenbucks to be made were the importantnthing.n1 he American Dream is a visionnthat is constantly changing and beingnredefined. America shines all the bright-nGrand AllusionsnLewis Lapham: Fortune’s Child: AnPortrait of the United States asnSpendthrift Heir; Doubleday; NewnYork.nby John O’SuUivannIwo books are here reviewed undernthe one title. There is the book by Mr.nLapham and the book which Mr. Laphamnimagines he has written. Wenglimpse the imaginary book first in thenintroduction when Mr. Lapham tellsnus that he has written a series of essaysnaround the theme that after World WarnII “the heirs to the American fortunengot into the habit of thinking of themselvesnas rich kids.” And in several ofnthe subsequent essays he presentsnAmerica as a spendthrift heir so richnthat he believes nothing can harm himnand thus indulges in every wastrel delusionnfrom revolution to “creativity.”nTo say that Mr. Lapham develops thisnmetaphor would be a rash understatement.nOne has at times the impressionnof watching a 1950’s science-fictionnmovie in which the metaphor escapesnfrom its laboratory restraints, growsnto monstrous size, assaults innocent bystandersnand in general terrorizes thenneighborhood. No person or thingnAmerican is safe from its depredations.nAny sort of behavior whatsoever is likelynto be seen by it as a vice characteris-nMr. O’SuUivan is editor of PolicynReview.nnner when compared to the totalitarian systemsnwhich challenge it. A book is desperatelynneeded to trumpet the virtues ofnAmerica—its dreams dreamt and deliv^nered. American Dreams: Lost andnfound is not that book. Its author simplynchooses to ignore the history of our timenand, consequently, his own subject. Henthus falsifies the very reality he proposesnto examine. Dntic of great wealth. In his discussion ofnU.S. foreign policy, for instance, Mr.nLapham states that “the young heirnundertook to invade Asia and to providenguns and wheat and computer technologynto any beggar who stopped him innthe street and asked him for a coin.”nThree pages later, however, we are toldnthat “the United States doesn’t take thentrouble to notice much of what goes onnin the world’s servant quarters.” Amongnthe metaphor’s victims are Mr. Laphamnand his writing: suddenly, at the slightestnprovocation, he will abandon a promisingnargument and fall to pondering darklynabout wealth and its malefactions as ifnresponding to signals transmitted fromnthe metaphor’s spaceship. WhethernAmericans act cautiously or recklessly,ngenerously or meanly, innocently or corruptly,nthere is the metaphor in thenshadows, waiting to pounce.nAs a rule, comprehensive indictmentsnshould make us wonder. Are all Americansnso guilty? But as the book wears on,nit emerges that, in the main, Mr. Laphamnhas a smaller target than the entirenUnited States in his sights. He is aimingnat members of the upper-administrativenmiddle class who are to be found in Congress,nthe bureaucracy, the large foundations,nthe prestige newspapers and thenhigher reaches of corporate life. To thisngroup Mr. Lapham gives the classicalnnameof “the equestrian class.” In Shaw’snHeartbreak House Lady Utterwood remarksnthat “there are only two classesnin good English society—the equestriann19nMarch/April 1981n