Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

February 12, 2017

Anti-intellectualism in American Life was awarded the 1964 Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction. It is a book which throws light on many features of the American character. Its concern is not merely to portray the scorners of intellect in American life, but to say something about what the intellectual is, and can be, as a force in a democratic society.

Hofstadter set out to trace the social movements that altered the role of intellect in American society from a virtue to a vice. In so doing, he explored questions regarding the purpose of education and whether the democratization of education altered that purpose and reshaped its form.

In considering the historic tension between access to education and excellence in education, Hofstadter argued that both anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were consequences, in part, of the democratization of knowledge.

Moreover, he saw these themes as historically embedded in America’s national fabric, an outcome of her colonial European and evangelical Protestant heritage. Anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were functions of American cultural heritage, not necessarily of democracy.

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.

“As Mr. Hofstadter unfolds the fascinating story, it is no crude battle of eggheads and fatheads. It is a rich, complex, shifting picture of the life of the mind in a society dominated by the ideal of practical success.” –Robert Peel in the Christian Science Monitor

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (February 12, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394703170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394703176
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars   111 customer reviews

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