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Susan Jacoby

Author of The Age of American Unreason

17+ Works 3,299 Members 97 Reviews 12 Favorited

About the Author

Susan Jacoby began her writing career as a reporter for The Washington Post. Her first book, Moscow Conversations, was based on the articles she contributed to the Post from Moscow between 1969 and 1971. Her other books include Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge, The Possible She, Half-Jew: A show more Daughter's Search for Her Family's Buried Past, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, The Age of American Unreason, The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, and Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the name: Susan Jacoby

Works by Susan Jacoby

Associated Works

America's Working Women: A Documentary History 1600 to the Present (1976) — Contributor, some editions — 138 copies

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Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1946
Gender
female
Nationality
USA
Places of residence
New York, New York, USA
Education
Michigan State University
Occupations
journalist
Organizations
The Washington Post
Center for Inquiry
Agent
Anne Borchardt
Georges Borchardt
Short biography
She writes The Spirited Atheist blog for On Faith, a website sponsored by The Washington Post.
Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age is Susan Jacoby's tenth nonfiction book. Her most recent books include the New York Times bestseller, The Age of American Unreason (2008) and Alger Hiss and The Battle for History (2009). An independent scholar whose work now focuses on American intellectual history, the author began her writing career as a reporter for The Washington Post.

Jacoby’s Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004), was hailed in The New York Times as an "ardent and insightful work" that "seeks to rescue a proud tradition from the indifference of posterity." Named a notable nonfiction book of 2004 by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, Freethinkers was cited in England as one of the outstanding international books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian. Freethinkers was featured in an interview on NOW with Bill Moyers.

http://www.susanjacoby.com/about.html...

The author’s previous books, include Moscow Conversations (1972), based on her experiences in Moscow from 1969 to 1971. Among her other books are Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge (Harper & Row), a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1984, and Half-Jew: A Daughter's Search for Her Family's Buried Past (Scribner, 2000).

Jacoby has been a contributor for more than 25 years, on topics including law, religion, medicine, aging, women's rights, political dissent in the Soviet Union, and Russian literature, to a wide range of periodicals and newspapers. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Book World, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Newsday, Harper's, The Nation, Vogue, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the AARP Magazine, among other publications. They have been reprinted in numerous anthologies of columns and magazine articles.

She is also the author of the weekly column, "The Spirited Atheist," at the On Faith website published by The Washington Post.

Susan Jacoby has been the recipient of many grants and awards, from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001-2002, she was named a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

Susan Jacoby lives in New York City.

Members

Reviews

Jacoby writes from a deep foundation of knowledge and insight. I am glad I read this book on the cultural milieu of US of A in the mid-aughts. Lots of it relates to our current anti-science, know-nothing culture.
 
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RickGeissal | 46 other reviews | Aug 16, 2023 |
Robert Ingersoll was a 19th century lawyer and orator who spoke out with great verve and eloquence against religion and superstition and in favor of humanist values (including anti-racism and women's rights) and the separation of church and state. I'd certainly heard of Ingersoll, but given how much I've read on these topics, I wasn't nearly as familiar with him as I thought I should be. Susan Jacoby clearly thinks a lot of people aren't as familiar with him as they should be, and this book is very much her attempt to correct that. (She even includes an open letter to the so-called "new atheists" at the end, encouraging them to acknowledge Ingersoll's contributions more.)

From what I did know of Ingersoll going in, I was inclined to be well-disposed towards him, and having finished this book now, I feel very, very much more so. Ingersoll was 100% my kind of guy, and in many ways he seems not just ahead of his own time, but possibly ours as well.

I do feel a bit sorry for Jacoby, though. Her writing is perfectly readable, if not exactly compelling, but boy does it pale in comparison to Ingersoll's. You can see why he had a reputation as an amazing speaker, and why even people who disagreed with his views used to show up just to enjoy listening to him talk. Every time Jacoby would finish up a long quote from him and go back to her own commentary, I'd resent it a little bit, because I just wanted to keep reading him.

Her commentary does put him into some good context, though, and she touches on the relevance that Ingersoll and the issues of his own time have for today's political and religious climate, not in great depth, but in ways that are thought-provoking.

Rating: 4/5 for this book, but based on it, I'd give Ingersoll himself a 5/5.
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4 vote
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bragan | 4 other reviews | Feb 13, 2021 |
Good book. Could have been a great book. Unfortunately Jacoby, like most extreme fundamentalists, (religious or atheist- it really doesn't matter) has an ax to grind that gets in the way of her writing. Pity.
 
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Steve_Walker | 46 other reviews | Sep 13, 2020 |
On 9/11, Susan Jacoby ...

"Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:
“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.
The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”
“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.
At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/books/14dumb.html
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tmph | 46 other reviews | Sep 13, 2020 |

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Works
17
Also by
1
Members
3,299
Popularity
#7,757
Rating
3.9
Reviews
97
ISBNs
58
Languages
1
Favorited
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