"Today's inescapable and perplexing Nietzsche is not necessarily the same Nietzsche who inspired readers in the past; and it's the achievement of American Nietzsche
to show how that is the case."
(Alexander Star New York Times Book Review
"This is a superb book, widely and imaginatively researched, boldly argued, and vigorously written. The story it tells is compelling and populated by a fascinating array of characters, including almost everyone of importance in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American intellectual history: including Emerson, William James, Santayana, Mencken, and a host of lesser folk."
"More than any other European thinker, Nietzsche is alive in our cultural bloodstream. . . . What does our use and abuse of Nietzsche's thinking say about us? This is the interesting question that Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen sets out to answer in her elegant and revealing account of America's reckoning with the German thinker."
(Thomas Meaney Wall Street Journal
"[A] lively history. . . . With vigor and intelligence, American Nietzsche covers a great deal of ground. . . . Ratner-Rosenhagen is a superb listener."—Nation
"The major lesson of Ratner-Rosenhagen’s book, and its comedy, lies in her demonstration of how deftly the American genius has drawn on Nietzsche but cushioned and contained his challenge to democracy, religion, and humanitarianism in general."
(Adam Kirsch Prospect
"Ratner-Rosenhagen's book, while technically the work of an intellectual historian, . . should be made compulsory reading for philosophers."
(Times Higher Education
is an original contribution to trans-Atlantic intellectual history. Imaginatively conceived, it sheds considerable light on the still neglected influence of German thought on American thought and culture from Emerson down to the present. On top of that, Ratner-Rosenhagen deals with her surprisingly fresh topic in a lively, sharp, and often witty prose that is a pleasure to read."
(Richard King, University of Nottingham)
"A luminous and wide-ranging story of the depth and passion of American readers' attraction to Nietzsche. This is transnational intellectual history at its very best."
(Daniel T. Rodgers, Princeton University)
"An exquisitely and exhaustively researched work. . . . American Nietzsche argues that all appropriation [of Nietzsche] get the man wrong—or, at least, that none get him entirely right—but that the error is sort of beside the point, because each misappropriation is put to use in the grand, century-long project of helping America understand itself."
"Friedrich Nietzsche and America, how does this go together? At first glance not at all. . . . But America eagerly soaked up the ideas of the German demolisher, who attacked last truth with a hammer."
"American Nietzsche bills itself as a capacious history of the American reception of the philosophy of Nietzsche. But as she takes us through a cacophonous century of readers, hostile and generous alike, Ratner-Rosenhagen also tells the story of an America that cannot but see itself through European eyes—one European's in particular. . . . Ironic, then, this American passion for Nietzsche, who himself lamented the American fetish for Europe—even in his beloved Emerson, whom he faulted for drinking too much from the 'milk glass' of German philosophy. Nietzsche wished Emerson would instead be, as Ratner-Rosenhagen puts it, 'perhaps a little more American.' "
“This is an outstanding book, exceptional in its density of data, sweep of coverage, interpretative skill, and multi-leveled significance. . . . The style is elegant and subtle, the interpretative stance insightful and phenomenologically disciplined, and the coverage of Nietzsche's twentieth century American interpreters who wrestled with his thought, life, and reception in the United States is varied. . . . It offers a wealth of data with empathetic understanding, impeccable scholarship, and engaging insight.”
(Yearbook of German-American Studies