The Broken Hearth: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family,by William J. Bennett
William Bennett's latest book provides a succinct account of the dissolution of the family and the morality that supports it. In this slender and readable volume, Bennett takes just the right tone in discussing, and defending marriage and family—subjects that are political, with immense social repercussions, and yet involve the deepest of personal sentiments. The book is deliberative, well reasoned, and sympathetic, but nonetheless presses upon the reader the magnitude of the crisis of the American family.
The story Bennett tells is sad—indeed, heartbreaking. He shows, without a hint of shrillness or smugness, the depth of human suffering that has accompanied the destruction of the family, while also painting a vivid picture of the goodness and desirability of a healthy family. He tackles head-on the leading arguments against the nuclear family and the traditional roles of motherhood and fatherhood. And he shows that at the center of these liberal and libertarian doctrines and institutions is a rejection of objective morality that undermines not only the family but also all that Americans once considered good, decent, and sacred.
Going beyond the usual conservative argument for the social utility of the family, Bennett explains in human terms the real happiness and contentment that spring from a healthy family life. Such an effort is critically important today, when so many Americans will never themselves be part of a happy family.
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This article appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of the Claremont Review of Books