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.

Download a PDF of the full article.



from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.