Member Reviews

You can't imagine how revealing it is to read these works in this era. What we think of new isn't new at all. The roots of what we complain of today - whatever your political leanings - began long ago. Richard Hofstadter is cited by conservatives for liberalism but really, what we read here transcends. He writes as an historian interested in the life of the mind, whether it be how people view the learning of other adults (remember Mitt Romney being criticized for speaking French?) and in the way we view education and the shaping of young minds. He is liberal only in the sense that he values lifelong learning and seems mystified when others do not.

We studied Hofstadter in college but I had forgotten the wealth of information here. The in-line references are a joy. Thank you editor Sean Wilentz.

FYI, the book starts out a bit slow and contains a bunch of references contemporary to the time it was written.  Put reservations aside and just keep reading. Soon you will be enthralled.
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Hofstadter's writing was what originally captivated my attention for good writing in history.  While I don't necessarily agree with every argument he makes, I think it's pretty clear that he's an example of a very readable historian.  Much can be said about "Anti-Intellectualism" and "Paranoid Style"- they're bedrocks of consensus history; and although they were written in a different context, I think they speak to us today.

This collection also contains some lesser known and unpublished works by Hofstadter that are good reads as well.  I particularly liked his essay on the nature of historical writing, questioning whether historians should focus on analytical monographs or narrative histories that tell a larger story.  His answer is that great history blends both (a feat much easier stated than produced).  

If you are looking for a collection to do deep dive into a famous historian, look no further.  Wilentz, an eminent historian himself, has produced a great volume that certainly will let us see Hofstadter's changes, in what he writes about and how.  The only drawback is that I wish there would have been something from the Age of Reform, Hofstadter's first major work that brought him recognition.  I feel that a lot of that work finds its way into his subsequent writing.  However, this is a great collection from a historian that continues to be the focus of historiographical exploration.
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I had previously heard much of Richard Hofstadter but never got around to reading any of his work until #LibraryOfAmerica published this volume of some of his most vital works, which I obtained through #Netgalley. Just a handful of pages into Anti-Intellectualism In American Life and I was both stunned and disheartened as to how little has changed in this nation in the centuries since our founding down through contemporary times. His message there and in many of the other essays collected in this volume, especially The Paranoid Style in American Politics and any of the numerous essays on Goldwater is unfortunately even more relevant now than at the time of writing. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in understanding how the Republican party has come so dangerously close to flirting with fascism and authoritarianism.

The only flaws are mild in nature. A long discourse on the Free Silver movement failed to hold my interest for its entire length. There were also multiple essays on Goldwater and higher education, such that many passages and information ended up being repeated between these.
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