ties greater than those dreamed of inrnWashington, D.C., New York, and LosrnAngeles. Those possibilities are whatrnmake life worth living, and they—morernso than Kirk’s discussions of politics, orrnhis portraits of famous acquaintances—rnare what make The Sword of Imaginationrnworth reading.rnScoff P. Richert is the assistant editor ofrnThe Family in America, a publication ofrnThe Rockford Institute. He worked forrnMrs.Kirkinl99S.rnHeathen Daysrnby Gregory McNameernA World of Their Own Makingrnby ]ohn R. GillisrnNew York: Basic Books;rn310 pp., $28.00rnIt all started with television. Early inrn1992, then Vice President Dan Quaylerntook the sitcom Murphy Brown to taskrnbecause its lead, played by CandicernBergen, was to give birth out of wedlock.rnThe show and its sponsors’ apparent endorsementrnof this transgression, Quaylernargued, was proof that the entertainmentrnindustry was antifamily, or, at least,rnagainst the traditional American familyrnas defined by Ozzie and Harriet, by thernCleavers and Ricardos.rnQuayle, as it happens, was right: televisionrnhad moved beyond the comfortable,rnhappy, two-parent family; an artifactrnthat, at least to the scriptwriters,rnseemed to belong to a time past. Thernnew television household, the world ofrnthe Simpsons and Bundys and Connors,rnwas something altogether different fromrnthose of Mayberry R.F.D. and Family Affair,rnto name two of the top-ten shows arnquarter-century ago. Still, by making thernrole of Happy Days an ideal for the age,rnQuayle opened himself to the perhapsrnjustifiable charge that he could not sufficientlyrndistinguish televised fiction fromrnlived reality, much as George Bush seeminglyrncould not comprehend shoppingrnfor one’s own groceries. His appeal to replacernCandice Bergen and her ilk withrnmore wholesome role models did notrnwork: American voters did not endorsernQuayle’s viewpoint in the 1992 election,rnbut Murphy Brown continues to air.rnIt being an election year, the issue ofrnfamily values is once more in the news.rn”Today,” writes social historian JohnrnGillis m A World of Their Own Making,rn”both Democrats and Republicans deployrnequally apocalyptic visions of familyrndecline and social disorder. And althoughrnmost Americans do not believerntheir own family life to be in immediaterndanger, they are quick to perceive theirrnneighbors being in total disrepair.” Thatrnperception, Gillis maintains, is an oldrnone, a current that has long flowedrnthrough our history. Bill Clinton mayrntrace the decline in family values to anrnuncaring government and economic system.rnBob Dole to the corrupting influencernof the welfare state and the Hollywoodizationrnof the culture. In eitherrnease, the assumption holds that wernonce lived in a golden age where therntwo-parent, self-sufficient family wasrnparamount, and that we have somehowrnfallen from this state of grace.rnAll golden ages are mythic. The onernto which our presidential candidates advertrnis no exception, growing from thernidealized family of the 1950’s, itself anrnidealized version of the family in the DepressionrnEra: a bulwark us-against-themrnstruggle in the face of hard times. Thosernwho lived in the 1950’s—and in the 20’srnand 30’s—will tell you that the realityrnwas far different from the cheerful, sanitizedrnhistory that has been conferred onrnthose eras; but, as Gillis notes in his livelyrnrevisionist history of the Americanrnfamily, that has not kept the myth fromrnoverpowering the truth.rnThe realities are indeed different.rnOne of the cornerstones of our supposedrngolden age is the notion of the familyrnbased upon partners who were monogamous,rnEros being contained within marriage.rnGillis combs the census records tornshow that, throughout our history, thisrnwas not always the case. Premarital pregnancyrnrates in most American states, hernwrites, have never fallen below ten percent,rnand sometimes have reached 30rnpercent, especially in rural areas. Littlernshame attached to these out-of-wedlockrnadventures. “Before the nineteenth century,”rnGillis maintains, “no great fuss wasrnmade about premarital pregnancy orrneven illegitimate birth as long as therncommunity was assured that it wouldrnnot be unduly burdened by the child.”rnIndeed, childless couples were viewed asrnbeing somehow more unnatural thanrnunwed teenage mothers, a view that stillrnobtains in many unsuburbanized parts ofrnthe wodd.rnDaniel Patrick Moynihan and NewtrnGingrich alike summed up the goldenagernidyll, Gillis continues, with their proposedrnreturn to a system of orphanagesrnin which the unsanctioned newly bornrnare to be housed. Gillis points to a flawrnin that plan by noting that before WoddrnWar II, when they began to disappear,rnorphanages were in the main short-termrnholding centers, halfway houses on thernway to family placement. With a declinernREADERS !rn^ y ‘f you havernfriends or relativesrnwho mayrnenjoyrnChronicles,rnplease send usrntheirrnnames andrnaddresses. We wouldrnbe pleasedrnto send them arncomplimentaryrnissue!rnNOVEMBER 1996/37rnrnrn