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Arguing the World: The New York Intellectuals in their Own Words 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0226158143
ISBN-10: 0226158144
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on independent filmmaker Dorman's 1999 PBS documentary, this gossipy gabfest traces the evolving political beliefs and careers of four influential New York intellectualsAliterary critic Irving Howe, political analyst Irving Kristol, and sociologists Daniel Bell and Nathan Glazer. All four were anti-Stalinist leftists attending City College in the 1930s and early '40s; all were involved with Partisan Review, the bastion of literary modernism and independent Marxist thought; and all later shed their radical political faith. But here, their paths diverged: while Howe remained a democratic socialist, Bell, Glazer and Kristol turned into what their critics call "neoconservatives," mounting a critique of the counterculture and liberal social policies like affirmative action (which, in yet another turnaround, Glazer now supports). Filled with the voices of the four protagonists, as well as those of Tom Hayden, Alfred Kazin, William Buckley Jr., Diana Trilling, Norman Podhoretz, Saul Bellow, Todd Gitlin and other participants in a vanished New York intellectual scene, the book follows the foursome through controversies over U.S. entry into WWII, Sen. McCarthy's anticommunist witchhunt, the war on poverty and late '60s campus uprisings, when all four, as middle-aged professors, clashed sharply with their radicalized students. Linking oral testimony with informative commentaries, Dorman wistfully champions the foursome as the embodiment of a lost public intellectual life in an age of academic specialization and identity politics. Whether one agrees with Dorman's conclusions or not, his text is a useful and lively addition to the literature about this generation of New York intellectuals.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

From City College in the '30s to leading campuses and journals in the '60s to semi-retirement in the '90s, Dorman's subjects (Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Irving Howe, and Irving Kristol) have been part of the nation's policy debates. Dorman interviewed them and their associates for a TV documentary; this book includes some of the material he gathered. A second generation of twentieth-century New York intellectuals, Bell, Glazer, Howe, and Kristol shared anti-Stalinism with their elders (the Partisan Review circle), but Howe persevered as a socialist to his 1993 death, while Kristol is a leading neoconservative. The New Left's rise in the '60s was a defining moment for all four; Dorman talked with both sides in this confrontation between middle-aged and younger radicals. The more complex (neither socialist nor neocon) positions of Bell and Glazer, in particular, gain clarity from Dorman's oral history approach; each subject has a chance to discuss how and why his beliefs changed over the years. Fascinating insights into what may have been the last generation of public intellectuals. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226158144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226158143
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,835,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on August 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dorman has taken his fascinating documentary film about the "New York intellectuals", added new material and turned it into this book. Forcing the subjects of the film to actually talk about their ideas in simple sentences makes them frequently more comprehensible and accessible than the sometimes abstuse books they write. Dorman is surprisingly sympathetic to neoconservative godfather Irving Kristol, treating him with the same respect as the other three subjects ("surprising" because like here talking with Irving Howe, he is usually denounced by the left as a traitor and "spokesman for corporate interests.") The book has an elegiac last chapter lamenting the decline of the "public intellectuals." Academia has degenerated into a group obsessed with left-wing theory and jargon: one critic says "You notice immediately they can't write, amd notice gradually they can't think either." Public intellectuals who still believe that truth can be recovered, that actually believe in the possibility of objectivity, and disinterestedness as a virtue are a vanishing breed in the age of spin and deconstruction. Get ahold of this book and find out what they were like.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This film was a really fascinating view of these 4 guys, and the book manages to expand on the rich material that flew by on film. The voices are vivid and real and compelling, and made me feel like I was a guest at a scintillating dinner party. I read it through in one sitting.
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