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Critical Americans: Victorian Intellectuals and Transatlantic Liberal Reform Paperback – April 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0807857922 ISBN-10: 0807857920 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


A remarkable work that recovers a lost generation of American intellectuals.--New England Quarterly

A fascinating transatlantic intellectual and biographical history. The book enhances understanding of the pivotal role of public intellectuals in the formation of a transatlantic liberalism in the long nineteenth century.--Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

[Provides] marvelously detailed portraits of the central four [public moralists]. . . . [Butler] excels in identifying the core values that her Gilded Age liberals did passionately defend.--Left History

Vindicates the author's argument that bourgeois intellectuals are uniquely suited to bring the advantages of their leaning to vastly larger masses.--American Historical Review

Butler's cohort of dead white men turn out to be cosmopolitan critics of American imperialism. . . . Written in lively, accessible language.--The Historian

A fine, well-researched, and provocative work.--Journal of American History

A secure basis from which historians can and should reconsider their contributions to American thought and society.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society


In this beautifully written and fair-minded book, Leslie Butler overturns a century of debunking to recover, in the liberals of the Victorian era, experience instructive for America today. She demonstrates the continued vitality of her subjects' reflections on democracy, race, and the role of the media, on party politics, overseas interventions, and, not least, the social responsibility of the arts.--Daniel Walker Howe, author of Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

|In this important contribution to transatlantic intellectual and cultural history, Leslie Butler skillfully resurrects the ideas of cultivation and cosmopolitanism advanced by Victorian critics long neglected or misunderstood. Joining a chorus of distinguished historians including Daniel Walker Howe, James Turner, and Jonathan Hansen, she demonstrates that these unfairly maligned partisans of liberal democracy battled against slavery and racism, championed women's rights, and opposed political corruption and imperialism not because they distrusted 'the people' but because they wanted their nation to redeem the promise of popular government.--James T. Kloppenberg, author of The Virtues of Liberalism


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Critical Americans: Victorian Intellectuals and Transatlantic Liberal Reform
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