The New York Times

Feeling Bad When Life Is Good

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

TWO NEW BOOKS EXAMINE THE POLITICS OF MEANING AND THE POLITICS OF FEAR.

“The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great

By Ben Shapiro

256 pages. Broadside Books. $27.99.

“Clear and Present Safety: The World Has Never Been Better and Why That Matters to Americans”

By Michael A. Cohen and Micah Zenko

256 pages. Yale University Press. $27.50.

Why, exactly, are so many Americans so angry and unhappy? Almost any other country today, and any prior version of the United States, would give its eyeteeth to enjoy our manifold blessings. The country is prosperous and at peace; it faces rivals and nuisances but no major threat. The government acted decisively and capably to crush jihadist terrorism and avert a global depression., in 2016: “If you had to choose any time in the course of human history to be alive, you’d choose this one. Right here in America, right now.”

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