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Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by…
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Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963)

by Richard Hofstadter

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This book seems in many parts, though published 50 years ago, to have been written yesterday. I'm not sure how to start summarizing it, so I won't try; I'll merely say that, having just finished it, it is going immediately into my "re-read" pile. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Nov 14, 2014 |
Raymond H. Muessig: The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 45, No. 2
http://www.jstor.org/stable/20343053

Arthur Bestor: The American Historical Review, Vol. 70, No. 4
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1846939

Rush Welter: The Journal of American History, Vol. 51, No. 3
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1894898

Stephen J. Whitfield: Change, Vol. 10, No. 4
http://www.jstor.org/stable/40177065

Ramsay Cook: International Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1
http://www.jstor.org/stable/40198709

David Riesman: American Sociological Review, Vol. 26, No. 6
http://www.jstor.org/stable/2090321

John Tracy Ellis: The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 49, No. 4, Jan., 1964
http://www.jstor.org/stable/25017375

Merle Borrowman: History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 4, Dec., 1963
http://www.jstor.org/stable/366952
  TriMosaic | Oct 9, 2014 |
An extremely thoughtful historical consideration of the role that intellectuals and anti-intellectualism have played in American life. Written in the early '60s, so there's a great deal more to consider-- but this is an invaluable study. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Apr 6, 2012 |
I couldn't finish this the first time I tried. Just wasn’t in the mood at the time. I thought it would be kind of interesting reading on whacked out stuff like the Know-Nothings, the KKK, nativism, the Birchers, and so on, but it turns out it’s mostly about the influence of Evangelicals on our politics and culture throughout American history. And I thought I wanted to know more about that too, but it turned out to be pretty boring in practice, so I dropped it, for now. I’ll finish eventually, because it feels like stuff I ought to know, in the light of current events.

I ended up finishing this up a couple of years later. It was mostly good, but what he groups under anti-intellectualism gets a little too broad for my liking. I mean, that's the thesis and what the book is setting out to do, and most of it probably does count as anti-intellectual under a strict definition of the term, but it sort of rankled to see any form of populism or attempts at democratic participation in institutions getting lumped in with Bircher loons. I'm pretty sure he doesn't entirely mean to make those equivalencies, but it's sort of a problem with the project. When you start to make progressive and non-canon education look like it's somewhere on a continuum with Bircher wingnuttiness, something has gone wrong, category-wise. All that might fall under the rubrik of "anti-intellectual," but that's putting forward an awfully narrow and conservative idea of what "intellectual" is. Plenty of credible intellectuals were for the educational ideas and some of the other demo-populist social trends he covers, whereas you can't find many if any who were for the loonier stuff.

I dunno, maybe I just had the wrong idea about what this book was setting out to do to begin with, as, like I said above, I thought it was going to focus much more on the really nasty nativist, racist, patriarchal, etc strands of American anti-intellectualism than it did. ( )
  jddunn | Nov 21, 2010 |
859 Anti-intellectualism in American Life, by Richard Hofstadter (read 25 June 1966) (Pulitzer Nonfiction prize in 1964) I did no post-reading note but my memory is that I was not very enthused over this book. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 31, 2010 |
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A book which throws light on many features of the American character. Its concern is not merely to portray the scorners of intellect in American life, but to say something about what the intellectual is, and can be, as a force in a democratic society.… (more)

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