Magazine July 12, 2021, Issue

Our Post-Pandemic Decadence

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavor, carrying four astronauts, approaches the International Space Station orbiting the Earth, April 24, 2021. (Mike Hopkins/NASA/Handout via Reuters)
The Decadent Society: America Before and After the Pandemic, by Ross Douthat (Avid Reader, 272 pp., $17)

If our society was decadent before the pandemic, what has it become now? Just a bit more so, argues Ross Douthat in the new paperback edition of his February 2020 book The Decadent Society. When the hardcover first appeared, Douthat’s book was an exceptionally insightful work of cultural criticism and an indispensable guide for understanding our national psyche. What has it become now? Just a bit more so.

Even those who have read the hardcover would benefit from the paperback, which is peppered with updates, emendations, and new caveats. Its central thesis is only strengthened. “Like the plagues that punctuated the

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Daniel E. Burns — Mr. Burns is an associate professor of politics at the University of Dallas and a contributing editor of Public Discourse.

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