Magnet, Myron 1944–
Magnet, Myron 1944–
PERSONAL: Born August 31, 1944, in Springfield, MA; son of Isaac Harry and Edith (Sahppiro) Magnet; married Barbara Crehan, October 13, 1973; children: Julia, Alexander. Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1966; Ph.D., 1977; Cambridge University, B.A., 1968, M.A., 1972. Politics: Republican.
CAREER: Columbia University, New York, NY, preceptor, 1970–72, instructor, 1972–73, fellow in humanities, 1977–79, assistant professor, 1979–80; Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, lecturer, 1975–77; Fortune magazine, New York, NY, writer, 1980–82, associate editor, 1982–83, member of editorial board, 1983–94; City Journal, editor, 1994–. Senior fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, 1989. Guest on radio and television programs.
MEMBER: Century Association.
Dickens and the Social Order, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1985, ISI Books (Wilmington, DE), 2004.
The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.
(Editor and author of introduction) What Makes Charity Work? A Century of Public and Private Philanthropy, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2000.
(Editor and author of introduction) The Millennial City: A New Urban Paradigm for 21st-Century America, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2000.
(Editor and author of introduction) Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2001.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Fortune, City Journal, Commentary, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, and the New York Times.
SIDELIGHTS: Myron Magnet's work as a writer has covered many topics, including economics, literature, and American social policy. His first published book, Dickens and the Social Order, examines the social problems engendered by poverty in nineteenth-century London. In a later book, The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass, Magnet focuses on the entrenched problems of the underclass in modern America, and proposes that the social programs supported by the liberal left in the 1960s have really caused more problems than they have solved, because they have stolen initiative and energy from the poor by relieving them of too much responsibility for their circumstances. Magnet finds three attitudes particularly destructive: the idea that poverty is always due to opportunities denied, rather than lack of initiative or character; the culture of recreational sex; and the generalized lack of respect for authorities, traditions, and standards.
"The dominant culture, Magnet contends, is responsible for this shambles of values and its deadly consequences for the poor, and he is essentially correct. His analysis is clarifying, his logic is powerful, and his examples are apt," stated Chester E. Finn, Jr., in a Commentary review of The Dream and the Nightmare. Finn recommended the book as "lucid, insightful, and often wise," but added that the "otherwise excellent volume is less satisfactory" in the matter of providing solutions to the problems the author identifies.
The Dream and the Nightmare was praised by Tod Lindberg in the American Spectator. He described it as "an impassioned and useful encapsulation of what has gone wrong in American urban society over the past thirty years," and noted that the author does so "with evident feeling for those whose lives have borne the brunt of judicial activism that lets criminals go free, of welfare policy that encourages dependency, or ideas about personal liberation that turned the seriously mentally ill loose on the streets." Magnet's background in literature is a real asset, according to Reason reviewer Carolyn Lochhead, who wrote: "As a Dickens scholar, Magnet offers a valuable literary perspective seldom present in poverty tracts. And he exhibits a journalist's facility with anecdote and statistic, a novelist's elegant and meaning-packed prose, and a rhetorician's sensitivity to ethos, both his own and his audience's."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Spectator, June, 1993, Tod Lindberg, review of The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass, p. 58.
Christian Century, March 9, 1994, Charles K. Piehl, review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 261.
Commentary, March, 1993, Chester E. Finn, Jr., review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 54.
First Things, June, 2000, review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 78; October, 2000, review of The Millennium City: A New Urban Paradigm for 21st-Century America, p. 78; December, 2000, review of What Makes Charity Work? A Century of Public and Private Philanthropy, p. 62.
Insight on the News, August 30, 1993, Kenneth Silber, review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 20.
National Review, July 5, 1993, Richard W. White, Jr., review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 50.
Public Interest, fall, 1993, Aaron Wildavsky, review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 110.
Publishers Weekly, February 1, 1993, review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 84.
Reason, July, 1993, Carolyn Lochhead, review of The Dream and the Nightmare, p. 49.
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Web site, http://www.manhattan-institute.org/ (March 8, 2006), biographical information about Myron Magnet.
World and I, http://www.worldandi.com/ (March 8, 2006), interview with Myron Magnet.