The Making of Americans
Political Science
Social Science

The Making of Americans

Democracy and Our Schools

  • E. D. Hirsch, Jr.


“The most cogent and persuasive version of [Hirsch’s] views that I have seen. . . .This is not just a good book. It is an important book.”—Robert Scholes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities Emeritus, Brown University

“E. D. Hirsch is one of the very few academics in this country who can write for a wide audience about complex issues without ever condescending, oversimplifying, or falling into a populist rant.”—David Labaree, Professor of Education, Stanford University

“In this important defense of the idea of a common national curriculum, E. D. Hirsch makes a lucid and convincing case that our habit of confusing such a curriculum with retrograde social and educational views has given us ‘sixty years without a curriculum.’”—Gerald Graff, 2008 President, Modern Language Association

“Once again, E.D. Hirsch has written a powerful and illuminating book about public education in America. This time he not only highlights ‘the knowledge deficit’ that has long impaired our students' reading abilities, he also explains how this deficiency is undermining the role of education in developing an informed citizenry. With all the talk in Washington about national standards and what it means for a high school student to be ‘college ready,’ this book is an essential read.”— Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

“E.D. Hirsch's The Making of Americans is a wonderful book that is must-reading for everyone who cares about our children and our country. It is the one book I would recommend to every legislator and school board member.”—Diane Ravitch, author of Left Back and The Language Police

"In this new book, E.D. Hirsch, a relentless advocate for universal common education, makes clear the very special relationship between education and democracy. Now more than ever we need his lessons to become part of our common wisdom.”—Randi Weingarten, President, The American Federation of Teachers

"[In] the context of the continuing shortcomings of American education and armed with the support of prominent educators, Hirsch once again challenges the prevailing 'child-centered' philosophy, championing a return to a 'subject-centered' approach to learning."—Publishers Weekly

"In The Making of Americans, Hirsch builds on [his] earlier work and widens the lens to connect his ideas on education reform to the fundamental rationales for our system of public schools in the United States. . . . Hirsch identifies two central reasons for the American 'common school': to create social mobility, allowing bright, hard-working students of all origins to enjoy the American dream; and to create social cohesion, binding children of diverse economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds into citizens of a single nation. . . . Hirsch makes a highly cogent case to support the concept that a common curriculum is necessary in elementary schools to further both goals. . . . American education would be far better off if leaders heeded Hirsch's sound advice to restore a common-core curriculum."—Richard D. Kahlenberg, The American Scholar.

"Based on research in cognitive studies and results from 'core knowledge' schools, Hirsch's case is clear and compelling. His book ought to be read by anyone interested in the education and training of the next generation of Americans."—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Boston Globe 

"Pleads for a coherent, content-based, multi-year curriculum to save our democracy from factionalism, inequality and incompetence."—Jay Mathews, Washington Post Book World (Best of 2009 Review)

“E. D. Hirsch is an antidote to our culture wars, our polarization, our taste for demagoguery, our feel-goodism. Reading him always reminds me of this country's great potential. That is what makes him such a great American.”

--Alan Wolfe, Books & Culture

“E. D. Hirsch has contributed what is to me the most persuasive idea of the past half century on how to improve the performance of American education.”--Nathan Glazer, Education Next



“E. D. Hirsch has arguably done more for

public school reform in this nation than

any living American. . . . It is altogether fitting, then, that in his

latest book Hirsch has become overtly political.

Beyond linking acquired knowledge to viability

in the work place, as he has done in previous

books, he attempts to reclaim public schooling

s a fundamental part of the political project

embarked upon by the founders and continued

by Lincoln.”

--Terrence O. Moore, Claremont Review of Books