The Public Interest

The prescience of Myrdal

Abigail Thernstrom & Stephan Sternstrom

Summer 1997

AN American Dilemma” Gunnar Myrdal called the problem of race in his classic 1944 book, recently re-issued with a new introduction by Myrdal’s daughter, Sissela Bok. “Dilemma” was, in fact, never quite the right word. Myrdal saw not a difficult choice between two unappealing alternatives but, rather, virtue derailed—a good people doing bad things, a country with a heart of gold in the grip of much evil.

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