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Richard Hofstadter’s famous Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, his tenth book, earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction (). This “personal book,”. For the ages For Hofstadter, pictured here in , anti-intellectualism was an By the time Anti-Intellectualism in American Life was published (), he was a . Anti-intellectualism in American Life was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Non- Fiction. It is a book which throws light on many features of the American.

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Nothing like coterie language to anger outsiders who might want in. The exultation of the common man “vote ib the guy you’d like to intellectualissm a beer with” got considerably worse with the Jackson presidency, and byduring William Henry Harrison’s “Log Cabin and Hard Cider” campaign, it officially became the keystone of a party’s election strategy.

A liking for philosophy, psychology, and radical politics and for reading the new republic are much hofstadterr auspicious for marital bliss than a liking for YMCA work, bible study and the American magazine.

Jesus rode dinosaurs, God loves guns and America can do no wrong. Among the intellectuals this rather simple view of things was turned upside down: Party and personal loyalty became the singular criterion. They shy away from any taint of elitism, one result of which has been, in the past generation, a significant shift to private schools or home schooling.

Review: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life ()

Alienation and Conformity,” which takes aim at recent critics on the Left. Intellectuualism helped establish many of the original higher level education institutions. Subsequently JFK would restore the validity of academia in government. With slight modifications this book could be written today.

The fundamentalist religion with a fundamental Americanism often exhibits a mind totally committed and entirely refuse of challenge. Book isn’t insanely well-written. The intelligent person has clear goals that can easily be appreciated by anyone. I would argue that things have only worsened in the intervening two generations. When it was first published, in the early s, it called on America to close the door on McCarthyism and for the Republican Party to open its collective mind to an awareness of where it was dragging American society and America This was my second go-round on this book and inHofstadter’s treatment of American disdain for intellectuals, in particular, and for ideas, more generally, reads like a warning, a jeremiad, even, regarding the downward slide of our political and aesthetic culture.


How can the most powerful country on Earth reject science, encourage religous superstition and create the tea party?

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

In the years since “the new demand for academic excellence,” a periodic hue and cry, has not made much difference in praxis, which fact fits Hofstadter’s long view of educational reform: From Washington through the John Quincy Adams administration, men of learning and accomplishment were sought for government work.

Vann Woodwardwho offered sharp, if collegial, criticisms of the manuscript. David Thoreau to Walt Ameriacn and the Romantics through the transcendentalist are mentioned prominently and favorably as intellectuals.

Hofstadter anatomizes the cumulative, mid-twentieth-century resentment over “the constant insinuation of the intellectual as expert in public affairs” I prefer to go along with it now.

I first read this book in my Intellectual History of hodstadter United States class when I was in college a hundred years ago and I’ve felt the need to revisit it about every decade. Somehow the notion that somebody might just be better than somebody else at something, without it being amercan result of identity categories and power imbalances, the idea that somebody wrote a better paper because they are smarter, harder working, or just temperamentally more suited to the discipline is now anathema.

This, to me, makes me question the work as a text in the history of ideas. This book has become a cornerstone work on the subject, and is a must read for anyone interested in the subject matter.


Does American society place great importance on recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best educators for our children? Administrators don’t care or plead insufficient monies. Progressive politics in changed the intellectual. But if we can’t invest in our education system and instill curiosity, love of learning, valuing of knowledge, and an ability to appreciate and practice a certain level of critical thinking within our populace we will gradually lose power intellectualosm the world.

In following democratic impulses, school districts resist, with infrequent exceptions, separately tracking core classes according to ability level. By the late s, radical critics whose influence had been limited – such hofstadtef Mills, with his dark warnings of a ” power elite ” – now seemed prescient, for all their apparent Manichaean bluster.

Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Open Preview See a Problem? But in early America ordinary citizens did not want to fund colleges for the rich. Dec 22, Randall Wallace rated it liked it. We live further away from Jefferson’s concept of meritocracy wherein the brightest run the affairs of state than ever.

Piety represents the obsessive side of the intellectual, that fuels endless research and arcane exploration: American politics is a struggle between people who believe that an 8th grade education should be sufficient to understand the issues facing us, and people who understand that it is not so.

The latter part, as mentioned, focuses on reformation. You know how the supposed polarity runs, as least according to that ostensible wisdom of the common man: