Anti-intellectualism in American Life, Volume 713

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Knopf, 1963 - History - 434 pages
4 Reviews
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In this award-winning classic work of consensus history, Richard Hofstadter, author of The Age of Reform, examines the role of social movements in the perception of intellect in American life. Professor Hofstadter sets the standard for the dissection of many facets of U.S. history. Here he tells the tale of the intertwining factors of American culture and politics that lead to prevalent anti-intellectualism. Although published in 1963, this remains the definitive work on the distrust of elites and experts and is sadly relevant to the present day. Thanks to Columbia University's Richard Hofstadter we have at last a fresh, forceful, fluent look from "the nether end" at various aspects of anti-intellectualism in America, past and present, and although it is self-styled a fragmentary rather than a formal study, the work is far-ranging, artfully approached and filled with a spirited, sensibility, without pedantry or polemic. It presents both the historical and socio-psychological aspects of its theme, pinpointing the middle-and-low-brow responses via our go-getter economy, the common man's traditional resentment and suspicion of the life of the mind, and the cyclical ambivalence which seems always to have greeted the scholar or expert when venturing into a democratic culture. For although the Founding Fathers, were a worldly elite, starting with Jefferson, too-much-book-larnin' soon became a political black mark.

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User Review  - arosoff - LibraryThing

After 50 years, Richard Hofstadter’s analysis of anti-intellectualism in America is not just a historical curiosity; it’s a vital work that continues to inform modern thought and policy. When we see ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - encephalical - LibraryThing

The most interesting parts were in the historical observations. The fifth part on anti-intellectualism in education, particularly concerning the state of secondary education seemed irrelevant; at ... Read full review


Antiintellectualism in Our Time
On the Unpopularity of Intellect

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About the author (1963)

Born in 1916, Richard Hofstadter was one of the leading American historians and public intellectuals of the 20th century. His works include The Age of Reform, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915, The American Political Tradition, and others. He was the DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University. He died in 1970.