A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books

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ReadHowYouWant.com, 2010 - Literary Criticism - 304 pages
5 Reviews
Today the classics of the western canon, written by the proverbial ''dead white men,'' are cannon fodder in the culture wars. But in the 1950s and 1960s, they were a pop culture phenomenon. The Great Books of Western Civilization, fifty-four volumes chosen by intellectuals at the University of Chicago, began as an educational movement, and evolved into a successful marketing idea. Why did a million American households buy books by Hippocrates and Nicomachus from door-to-door salesmen? And how and why did the great books fall out of fashion? In A Great Idea at the Time Alex Beam explores the Great Books mania, in an entertaining and strangely poignant portrait of American popular culture on the threshold of the television age. Populated with memorable characters, A Great Idea at the Time will leave readers asking themselves: Have I read Lucretius's De Rerum Natura lately? If not, why not?
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sullywriter - LibraryThing

A surprisingly engrossing and enjoyable book. Adler and Hutchins were quite the oddballs but fascinating characters with some very intriguing ideas about education. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pbadeer - LibraryThing

A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books is the perfect read for LTers. For those unfamiliar with the concept (as I was), in the 1950's Encyclopedia Brittanica ... Read full review

Contents

THE ODD COUPLE
20
THE GREAT BOOKS IN THE GRAY CITY
37
GREAT BOOKS GOOD FOR YOU
60
THE MAKING OF THE BOOKS
81
FASTER PUSSYCAT SELL SELL
104
THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK 128 SEVEN SECOND VERSE NOT THE SAME AS THE FIRST
150
EPICTETUS AT THE CASH REGISTER
168
HARD CORE
184
AMONG THE BOOKIES
203
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
229
NOTES ON SOURCES
250
Back Cover Material
263
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