The Age of American Unreason

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Pantheon Books, 2008 - History - 356 pages
19 Reviews
Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon--one that is at odds with our heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern, secular knowledge and science. With mordant wit, she surveys an anti-rationalist landscape extending from pop culture to a pseudo-intellectual universe of "junk thought." Disdain for logic and evidence defines a pervasive malaise fostered by the mass media, triumphalist religious fundamentalism, mediocre public education, a dearth of fair-minded public intellectuals on the right and the left, and, above all, a lazy and credulous public.

Jacoby offers an unsparing indictment of the American addiction to infotainment--from television to the Web--and cites this toxic dependency as the major element distinguishing our current age of unreason from earlier outbreaks of American anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism. With reading on the decline and scientific and historical illiteracy on the rise, an increasingly ignorant public square is dominated by debased media-driven language and received opinion.

At this critical political juncture, nothing could be more important than recognizing the "overarching crisis of memory and knowledge" described in this impassioned, tough-minded book, which challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what the flights from reason has cost us as individuals and as a nation.

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Review: The Age of American Unreason

User Review  - Miri - Goodreads

I was SO close to giving this five stars. I learned a lot and laughed out loud at many points while reading it. However, Jacoby's knee-jerk and entirely unskeptical condemnation of everything from ... Read full review

Review: The Age of American Unreason

User Review  - Jesse - Goodreads

Irritating, and not even that good a screed. Jacoby's history of why people believe dumb things, or don't believe in reason, is pretty solid, but after the 60s chapter, which has a nice balance, it ... Read full review

About the author (2008)

\Susan Jacoby is the author of seven previous books, most recently Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, which was named a Notable Book of 2004 by The Washington Post Book World and The Times Literary Supplement. She lives in New York City.

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