By Scott A. Sandage

What makes an individual a Loser, somebody doomed to unfulfilled desires and humiliation? not anyone is born to lose, and but failure embodies our worst fears. The Loser is our nationwide bogeyman, and his heritage over the last 200 years finds the darkish facet of good fortune, how fiscal striving reshaped the self and soul of the United States. From colonial days to the Columbine tragedy, Scott Sandage explores how failure developed from a company loss right into a character deficit, from a profession setback to a gauge of our self worth. From hundreds and hundreds of personal diaries, relations letters, company documents, or even early credits experiences, Sandage reconstructs the dramas of real-life Willy Lomans. He reveals their confessions and denials, silly hopes and misplaced religion, sticking locations and altering occasions. Dreamers, suckers, and nobodies come to existence within the significant scenes of yank heritage, just like the Civil warfare and the process of huge company, exhibiting how the nationwide quest for achievement remade the person ordeal of failure. Born Losers is a pioneering paintings of yankee cultural heritage, which connects daily attitudes and anxieties approximately failure to lofty beliefs of individualism and salesmanship of self. Sandage's storytelling will resonate with we all because it brings to lifestyles forgotten women and men who wrestled with The Loser--the label and the experience--in the times while American capitalism used to be construction a state of winners. (20050101)

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Let the moral obligation remain, as it will, as strong as ever,” conceded the sponsor of a short-lived federal bankruptcy act in 1841. ”25 The fable of the conscientious debtor papered over a schism between the spirit of go-ahead and the cult of moral obligation. An entrepreneur who failed in the early nineteenth century faced inadequate state and federal laws, vengeful creditors, and forced idleness in debtor’s prison—and if he successfully ran this gantlet, there was still the matter of moral obligation.

37 2 I A Reason in the Man n the winter of 1846, a young attorney subscribed to a sevenlecture series at the Lyceum in Worcester, Massachusetts. “I did not understand it,” wrote J. Henry Hill in his diary, after the third lecture. The opening address, “Montaigne the Sceptic,” fascinated him, and the second night, on Napoleon, was passable, but the discourse on Plato lost him. “I expected it would be full of the mystical and of course was not very much disappointed. ” Such “quiddities” had no relevance to Hill’s career as a bankruptcy lawyer—which was precisely why he attended all seven lectures.

Failure builds character. And yet, everyone knows a modern Job, a salt-of-theearth type who tries and tries but meets only disaster. We mention him with sympathy and disgust. ” The problem is not that our bootstrap creed is a bald-faced lie, although it is. The real problem is that failure hits home; we take it personally. To know a “great loser”—a father, a neighbor, a classmate—is to glimpse our own worst future. Times change, deals collapse, accidents happen. ] This 1865 lithograph featured a rare depiction of poor whites, opposite a slave family kneeling before the idealized emancipator, acknowledging the promises and perils the new birth of freedom held for all downtrodden Americans.

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