Samuel P. Huntington

Who are we ? Publication date : November 20, 2004

In his cardinal work, The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington argued that with the end of the cold war the fundamental source of international conflict would no longer be ideological, but cultural. This prophesy seems to have been partially fulfilled.

In Who Are We?, he takes this argument one step further and applies it to the impact that other civilisations have on American and Western values.

The early settlers who founded the United States were mostly Anglo-Saxons who brought with them the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religiosity and the rule of law. The waves of immigrants that followed them adopted the essentials of that founding culture, which remained the bedrock of U.S. identity. Huntington argues that this consensus is being challenged because Latin American immigrants have not been assimilated into the dominant culture, and because of such issues as multiculturalism, growing bilingualism, the discrediting of civic mentality, and the denationalisation of U.S. elites.

The terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 bolstered U.S. patriotism - but what feelings of national identity is this new patriotism based on?

Huntington's latest book provides a caustic analysis of some of the fundamental issues under discussion in the U.S. today. It will help French and European readers in their own examination of issues of identity and culture. Like The Clash of Civilizations, this thought-provoking book is bound to be highly controversial.

Samuel P. Huntington is a professor at Harvard University and the author of The Clash of Civilizations (French translation: Le Choc des civilisations, Odile Jacob, 1997).