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American Studies

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

At each step of this journey through American cultural history, Louis Menand has an original point to make: he explains the real significance of William James's nervous breakdown, and of the anti-Semitism in T. S. Eliot's writing. He reveals the reasons for the remarkable commercial successes of William Shawn's New Yorker and William Paley's CBS. He uncovers the connection between Larry Flynt's Hustler and Jerry Falwell's evangelism, between the atom bomb and the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He locates the importance of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, Pauline Kael, Christopher Lasch, and Rolling Stone magazine. And he lends an ear to Al Gore in the White House as the Starr Report is finally presented to the public.

Like his critically acclaimed bestseller, The Metaphysical Club, American Studies is intellectual and cultural history at its best: game and detached, with a strong curiosity about the political underpinnings of ideas and about the reasons successful ideas insinuate themselves into the culture at large. From one of our leading thinkers and critics, known both for his "sly wit and reportorial high-jinks [and] clarity and rigor" (The Nation), these essays are incisive, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Review:

"Menand approaches his subjects with judiciousness and moderation; and he addresses not so much people as institutions. There are famous people who have become institutions, and he deals with them on that basis. Then again, some institutions seem to have an aggregate "character," and these Menand treats as sentimentally or ruefully as if they were persons....This is very much a book of its moment." David Bromwich, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Review:

"The success of The Metaphysical Club, which won last year's Pulitzer Prize for History, surprised few regular readers of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, where Menand has contributed many of the most thoughtful review-essays of the last decade. This book collects some of the most cogent and clearly articulated of those pieces, and reaffirms Menand's position as a preeminent historian of American liberalism's cultural incarnations...." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"The clarity and energy of [Menand's] writing never fail." Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Book News Annotation:

Menand (English, City U. of New York) presents 15 of his own essays, which look at aspects of American culture in the context of their historical milieux in order to see if that process changes understanding. The essays roam widely from their core topics, which are treated as windows into wider issues of American culture. Topics include the nervous breakdown of psychologist Henry James, the commercial success of the New Yorker under the editorial helm of William Shawn, the novels of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer's criticisms of pop singer Madonna, the relationship of Rolling Stone magazine to politics, and the feud between religious fundamentalist Jerry Falwell and pornography publisher Larry Flynt. Portions of the work have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, the New Yorker, and Artforum.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Louis Menand is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Metaphysical Club and Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Table of Contents

Preface

William James and the Case of the Epileptic Patient

The Principles of Oliver Wendell Holmes

T.S. Eliot and the Jews

Richard Wright: the Hammer and the Nail

The Long Shadow of James B. Conant

The Last Emperor: William S. Paley

A Friend Writes: The Old New Yorker

Norman Mailer in His Time

Life in the Stone Age

The Popist: Pauline Kael

Christopher Lasch's Quarrel with Liberalism

Lust in Action: Jerry Falwell and Larry Flynt

Laurie Anderson's United States

The Mind of Al Gore

The Reluctant Memorialist: Maya Lin

Notes

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374104344
Author:
Menand, Louis, III
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Location:
New York
Subject:
Non-Classifiable
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Intellectual life
Subject:
Social history
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Popular Culture
Subject:
United States - General
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
10381
Publication Date:
20031101
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 x 0.72 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
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American Studies Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.48 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374104344 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Menand approaches his subjects with judiciousness and moderation; and he addresses not so much people as institutions. There are famous people who have become institutions, and he deals with them on that basis. Then again, some institutions seem to have an aggregate "character," and these Menand treats as sentimentally or ruefully as if they were persons....This is very much a book of its moment." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "The success of The Metaphysical Club, which won last year's Pulitzer Prize for History, surprised few regular readers of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, where Menand has contributed many of the most thoughtful review-essays of the last decade. This book collects some of the most cogent and clearly articulated of those pieces, and reaffirms Menand's position as a preeminent historian of American liberalism's cultural incarnations...."
"Review" by , "The clarity and energy of [Menand's] writing never fail."
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