Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - History - 320 pages
5 Reviews
Richard Hofstadter (1916-70) was America’s most distinguished historian of the twentieth century. The author of several groundbreaking books, including The American Political Tradition, he was a vigorous champion of the liberal politics that emerged from the New Deal. During his nearly thirty-year career, Hofstadter fought public campaigns against liberalism’s most dynamic opponents, from McCarthy in the 1950s to Barry Goldwater and the Sun Belt conservatives in the 1960s. His opposition to the extreme politics of postwar America—articulated in his books, essays, and public lectures—marked him as one of the nation’s most important and prolific public intellectuals. 

In this masterful biography, David Brown explores Hofstadter’s life within the context of the rise and fall of American liberalism. A fierce advocate of academic freedom, racial justice, and political pluralism, Hofstadter charted in his works the changing nature of American society from a provincial Protestant foundation to one based on the values of an urban and multiethnic nation. According to Brown, Hofstadter presciently saw in rural America’s hostility to this cosmopolitanism signs of an anti-intellectualism that he believed was dangerously endemic in a mass democracy. 

By the end of a life cut short by leukemia, Hofstadter had won two Pulitzer Prizes, and his books had attracted international attention. Yet the Vietnam years, as Brown shows, culminated in a conservative reaction to his work that is still with us. Whether one agrees with Hofstadter’s critics or with the noted historian John Higham, who insisted that Hofstadter was “the finest and also the most humane intelligence of our generation,” the importance of this seminal thinker cannot be denied. As this fascinating biography ultimately shows, Hofstadter’s observations on the struggle between conservative and liberal America are relevant to our own times, and his legacy challenges us to this day.
 

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Review: Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography

User Review  - Tristan - Goodreads

This is the biography of one of the most famous historians in American historiography. If you wish to know about this very interesting person, this book does it very well. However, this likely won't appeal to many who are not deeply entrenched in history academia. Read full review

Review: Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography

User Review  - Goodreads

This is the biography of one of the most famous historians in American historiography. If you wish to know about this very interesting person, this book does it very well. However, this likely won't appeal to many who are not deeply entrenched in history academia. Read full review

Contents

1 Radical Roots
3
2 The Twilight of Waspdom
28
3 The New American Political Tradition
50
4 The Historian as Social Scientist
72
Engagement 19501965
97
5 The Age of Reform and Its Critics
99
6 The Crisis of Intellect
120
7 The Paranoid Mind
142
9 Conflict and ConsensusRedux
188
10 The Trials of Liberalism
207
11 A World Full
222
Notes
239
In Search of Richard Hofstadter
267
Archives Interviews and Correspondence
277
Students of Richard Hofstadter
281
Index
283

Eclipse 19651970
161
8 Rebellion from Within
163

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Page xx - The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body.

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About the author (2008)

David S. Brown is associate professor of history at Elizabethtown College.

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