Several of the readers, known and unknown, who read this work before it reached this stage commented on the absence of my own point of view explicitly stated and placed within the text. As one anonymous reviewer put it: "Surely given her subject matter (reflexivity) she cannot get away with this." I (and hundreds of others) do not consider myself even obliquely subtle, and I assume that much of my own position is evident throughout. The effort here is to provide a reasoned and reasonable introduction to some of the issues which have stimulated and troubled American anthropology for the last three decades, and insofar as explicating my own views in broad terms is useful, I took the critique seriously enough to include some thoughts on the genesis of this research and overall positions which permeate it.
Since the 1960s, discussions about, arguments over, and references to that time have occupied an exceptional share of American attention and space. But then, the 1960s has been regularly perceived and announced as an exceptional time. Certainly this has been true among American academics and by some of the now aging participants in that time. I include myself in both these groups. Thus, although this work was specifically motivated by anthropological interests in both American culture and American anthropology, the interests themselves were formed in the middle of the 1960s, when I began my undergraduate education. On reflection I am sure that the particular moment in American anthropology which I selected for study was significantly, albeit at first silently, generated by my own experience in the 1960s. It was part of the extended effort of many Americans, including the authors of the works examined here, to make sense of what being American