"We live in a society where the emphasis upon winners and losers is dramatically revealed everywhere. Listen to the chants 'America Is No.1' after an American victory in an Olympic Games competition or read about the energy behind this phenomenon of 'status inflation,' " writes Joel Best, a prolific author and Professor of Sociology at the University of Detroit. He believes that there are more awards being given now than at any other time in history. Many schools give out multiple valedictorian awards; the military has upped the number of medals; and there are more awards for writers, filmmakers, and Hall-of-Fame players. The end result is what Best characterizes as "a self-congratulatory culture" built upon greater economic affluence, the increased availability of leisure time, improved communication, the creation of independent social worlds, and the support of multiple ideologies.

In one of the most interesting chapters, the author gives his assessments of the vast difference between the heroes of the past who were larger-than-life figures and the modern-day heroes who are given recognition for their admired behavior. With this definition, the term itself has been weakened so that we are heading for the downbeat endgame of "One person's hero is another's villain."

The prize proliferation of our era also feeds the widespread narcissism of youth who often feel entitled to special treatment. It pays tribute to the morally questionable process of status and the ranking of individuals and organizations. Everyone's a Winner by Joel Best is a helpful wake-up call to a disturbing national phenomenon.