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Anti-Intellectualism in American Life Paperback – Feb 12 1966


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (Feb. 12 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394703170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394703176
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #149,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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THE AMERICAN mind was shaped in the mold of early modern Protestantism. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore on Jan. 1 2004
Format: Paperback
One reviewer below insists that this book, while excellent, is "dated." I find this an astonishing evaluation. What stunned me about this book was how familiar the anti-intellectualism from each period in American history felt. True, we are not today facing McCarthyism--our own particular moment in history feels Orwellian more than anything--but Hofstadter's overall point about anti-intellectualism being a constituent part of the national character has not been invalidated by the past forty years. Indeed, his points have been confirmed at nearly every point. And while the anti-intellectuals in the fifties may have railed against "eggheads," today the GOP directs much of their fury against the "liberal elite." Since most of "the elite" is dirt poor financially, clearly they are aiming their guns at the intellectual elite. Figures Hofstadter quotes from the 18th century sound like they could be one of today's right wing pundits.
Few books that I have ever read have helped me understand the American character as well as this one. Many of the chapters in American history that he chronicles are somewhat forgotten, but just as essential as the more familiar figures and events.
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Format: Paperback
Last year, in 2003, the translation of this work was published. I got interested with it and bought one. What I was really surprised is the publication year of 1962(1963). The reason is the work brilliantly described the present America in a deep way as well as the complexity of the nation. I can understand the publication of Morone's Hellfire Nation, which seems excellent work, but I cannot believe Hofstadter's work was published more than 40 years ago. I would not have wondered the work was published in 2003. I assumed the grass roots conservetism which has sustained the Bush Administration might mainly come from anti-liberalism, however, the fact and history has been more complicated. The work vividly clarifies one but imporant aspect of America which is difficult to understand by non-U.S. citizen. Excellent classic!!
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the other reviewers as to the depth of Hofstadter's scholarship in this seminal work. However, in light of George W. Bush's disdain for government careerists, and John Ashcroft's Patriot Act-mentality threatening to reduplicate the 1950s, this book actually isn't that dated. Rather, it could be considered prophetic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 on April 27 2003
Format: Paperback
This is Hofstadter's study of trends in academic and social thought up to the 1950's, and it still deserves praise at a general level even though many of the particulars are no longer relevant. It's unfair to say that a book published way back in 1963 is outdated in the present day, so this can best be seen as a period piece, with a social history up to the point of writing. So it does function as a useful look at what was happening intellectually in the 1950's and early 60's.
Hofstadter's subject matter is the unique American disdain for intellectuals and eggheads - a term he actually uses several times, quite surprisingly for such an academic work. American folklore glamorizes the self-made man who conquers the challenges of nature, educating himself with experience - the school of hard knocks - as opposed to the isolated and condescending intellectual who has book smarts but no experience. At the time of writing, the end of the McCarthyist era, anti-intellectualism was especially strong and Hofstadter examines the history of this always shifting issue. He also makes the important distinction between intellectualism and intelligence. Folks usually distrust the former but still respect the latter. Some of Hofstadter's examinations seem highly irrelevant today, like the role of intellectualism in farming or organized labor, but his coverage of issues in public education (including the perennial evolution debate) is depressingly familiar. It seems some things never change.
The writing style is very academic, and dare I say intellectual, so it can be a struggle getting through Hofstadter's obscure issues and references that were more relevant back in 1963. However his political stance is very strong and levelheaded, and his examination of McCarthyism is surprisingly lucid.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on July 15 2004
Format: Paperback
Richard Hofstadter's remarkable ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN AMERICAN LIFE reflects the Cold War/post-McCarthy era, yet still echoes powerfully today. Why this book has endured for four decades is not only because it still rings true, but also for Hofstadter's iron-clad reasoning. (This is not easy reading--at least for me it wasn't). Hofstadter examines the multi-fronted attacks on intellectuals throughout the centuries: attacks from religions who suspected intellectuals of atheism or worse; attacks from the left; attacks from the right; attacks from the lower class who perceived intellectuals as privileged; and attacks from the upper class who worried about the knowledge/power balance. Yes, Hofstadter does linger long about the anti-intellectual movement of the early 60s, and some of those references are lost to us, but that cannot be helped nor blamed on him. I also enjoyed the distinction between intelligence and intellectualism--very acute.
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