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Anti-Intellectualism in American Life Paperback – Feb 12 1966
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"The most comprehensive, succinct, and well-written one-volume treatment of the subject now available."--Walter Laqueur
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"The most comprehensive, succinct, and well-written one-volume treatment of the subject now available."--Walter LaqueurSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
I would submit that anti-intellectualism is indeed still a dominant force in American life--politicians make appeals to the "folks", right-wing radio talk-shows belabor the follies of academia, films and popular publishing pander to the desire for the basest kind of sensationalism--but that it is an entirely different sort of anti-intellectualism than the kind that held sway over American politics and culture in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s.
Hofstadter's book is certainly worth reading, though, especially if you are interested in the culture of the 1950s. Like Mills' _The Power Elite_ and Reisman's _The Lonely Crowd_, it remains one of the great sociological/historical works from that era; one that offers a vivid portrait of a unique period in American history.
Most recent customer reviews
Great read. Thoughtful, insightful and thoroughly enjoyable.. I hope it reaches a wide American audience.Published 9 months ago by ernest reinhart
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). Read morePublished on Feb. 29 2004 by Masaki Tanaka
This book discusses the revulsion of technocracy felt by the average American, which continues today. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2003 by Fascinet
I agree with the other reviewers as to the depth of Hofstadter's scholarship in this seminal work. However, in light of George W. Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2003 by S. J. Snyder
Not only does this classic remain timely in 2003, but Hostadter's prose is brilliant. His thought-laced language simply flows.Published on July 24 2003 by James V. Sylvester
In sharply elucidating America's long and unfortunate flirtation with anti-intellectualism, brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Richard Hofstadter sheds meaningful light on... Read morePublished on Nov. 23 2001 by William Hare
Hofstadter's book seems even more vital today than it was when it first came out, back in 1964. As the title suggests, he explores the anti-intellectual roots of American society,... Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2001 by daibhidh