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  • A Time to Build

  • From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream
  • By: Yuval Levin
  • Narrated by: Ford Enlow
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

A leading conservative intellectual argues that to renew America we must recommit to our institutions

Americans are living through a social crisis. Our politics is polarized and bitterly divided. Culture wars rage on campus, in the media, social media, and other arenas of our common life. And for too many Americans, alienation can descend into despair, weakening families and communities and even driving an explosion of opioid abuse. 

Left and right alike have responded with populist anger at our institutions, and use only metaphors of destruction to describe the path forward: cleaning house, draining swamps. But, as Yuval Levin argues, this is a misguided prescription, rooted in a defective diagnosis. The social crisis we confront is defined not by an oppressive presence but by a debilitating absence of the forces that unite us and militate against alienation. 

As Levin argues, now is not a time to tear down, but rather to build and rebuild by committing ourselves to the institutions around us. From the military to churches, from families to schools, these institutions provide the forms and structures we need to be free. By taking concrete steps to help them be more trustworthy, we can renew the ties that bind Americans to one another.

©2020 Yuval Levin (P)2020 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"Mainstream Republicans dismayed by the current state of their party...will savor this well-reasoned and hopeful study." (Publishers Weekly)

"A provocative, inspiring look at the underlying cause of our polarization and dysfunction." (Kirkus

"A Time to Build is exactly what America needs right now. A moving call to recommit to the great project of our common life. And from Yuval Levin, one of the most thoughtful and pertinent of our public intellectuals, who writes like a dream if dreams were always clear. What an encouraging book this is, and what an important one." (Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

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  • Richard Dine
  • 22-03-2021

Missing what really ails us

Good analysis of some of America's underlying challenge but proposed solutions inadequate. Audio quality is good.

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  • R. Lott
  • 11-03-2021

A Time to Celebrate

Yuval pivots the lense of current events to focus on unseparable roots of problems we face to in America at large. His virtue and care for the nation shines through the seriousness of this analysis. For anyone hungry to understand "what is missing, and what has gone wrong", Yuval provides a comprehensive blueprint of the foundations of our crippling and melancholic divison based on political differences.

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  • Joey Caster
  • 26-11-2020

So many good points but weak solutions

The author had so many good points and views on very relevant subjects but was missing any solid solutions to the problems. I learned a lot from this book, it just left me wanting a strong Idea for a solution to the problems but left me wanting more.

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  • Q Garcia
  • 16-09-2020

Rebuild America

I was introduced to this author thru C-SPAN 's in-depth program. In the age of "me too" and the "cancel culture" this is as timely as it gets. The institutions of family, business, religion, and many others are not lifting anyone up anymore , but bring everyone down. By bowing to everyone, no one is served. Institutions no longer work for the good of all, just the individual. Speaking only works if others are listening.

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  • James Greer
  • 20-08-2020

Erratic

I've read Mr. Levin's work for years, and enjoyed it. He writes well, is accessible to the average reader and seems evenhanded in his approach. Yet, this audio presentation left me often shaking my head.

There is much to like, much that provoked thought, and introspection. Points of agreement are plentiful. He seems transfixed on one particular notion, which left me dissatisfied - that institutioms form and shape us, and give us deeper meaning. We are citizens of overlapping social constructs that help us, often involuntarily, to understand our roles and responsibilities.

Sure thing. Mr. Levin never really addresses one of life's issues in what is wrong with institutions in general. He does not examine, more than in passing, what the incentives are for people to behave in ways they do. Reform is impossible until incentives are.examined. All the altruistic hopes are misplaced if the driving force toward something overcomes the noble aspiration.

This was a fine book, well read in the Audinle version. It didn't provoke me to an epiphany I can embrace.

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  • Robert N. Driscoll
  • 03-03-2020

Fantastic Book

One of the best books I've read discussing current acrimony and dissatisfaction and offering a framework of analyzing and addressing the problems. Mediating institutions!! Shades of Tim Carney's and Jonah Goldberg's recent books, but more focused on institutions.

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  • B. McAllister
  • 27-02-2020

Thought-provoking, constructive, and objective

Mr Levin takes a different approach at looking to describe drivers and reasons for the extreme polarization, and absence of constructive dialogue that we increasingly see in the US. I thought I had a decent framework for looking at how institutions fit in a community, but apparently I had some gaps. While I'm in the process of my second pass through the book, and therefore can't say that I completely agree with everything Mr Levin presents, the initial pass suggested it is a compelling argument, worth the time and energy of diving deeper into his points.

I do like how he surveys the landscapes, identifies macro forces at work, but then distills these down to the individual level. Near the conclusion, he extends an invitation to the reader to try a few things. Having an impact, in his model, is accessible to the individual, immediately, and as the awareness and understanding grows through taking those few steps he recommends, I anticipate the momentum compels an increasing share of the community to drive great changes within institutions towards restoring their formative power and relevance.

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