"Democracy's Children: Intellectuals and the Rise of Cultural Politics is a meditation on how intellectuals might try to achieve their political and social goals in the early twenty-first century."—William G. Tierney, Academe, Winter 2003.
"John McGowan's Democracy's Children is divided into two parts. The first deals with the intellectual as academic, writer, critic, and teacher. The second deals with broad cultural and historical concerns, especially in relation to modernity, and ends with a sketch of ' pragmatic pluralism.' . . . This book coheres because of his insights into the nature of the intellectual, especially the university-based literary intellectual's profession (the domain that the author knows best), and also by a ubiquitous ethical concern."—Nicholas O. Pagan, Eastern Mediterranean University, Southern Humanities Review 37:3, Summer 2003
"McGowan attempts to yoke together a humanist belief in universals—to know those facts that make our world unjust and that are necessary for us to fight for true democracy—with a belief that reality is indeterminate and socially constructed."—Frederick Luis Aldama, University of Colorado at Boulder, H-Amstdy, April 2004
"Democracy's Children is one of the more distinguished recent examples of that curious academic genre, the book of linked essays. It is also one of the most consistently provocative and contrarian academic books I have yet come across."—Susan Read Baker, South Atlantic Review, Fall 2004
"Democracy's Children is smart, readable, and valuable in its range of attention and insights. John McGowan's book is an important contribution to some of the most significant debates occurring in the humanities."—Evan Watkins, University of California, Davis
"Democracy's Children offers powerful and convincing arguments about a wide variety of critical topics, and it is superb in making a case for what we might call 'pluralism' all the way through. In fact we can view this book as an experiment in finding a voice and stance exemplary of democratic ideals. Or, better, of American democratic ideals since the authorial voice share's Twain's and Melville's intensely sceptical view of those who claim to speak for the people. Few critics are as intelligently and entertainingly wary as McGowan. And no one I know manages to integrate the personal and the analytic as well as he does. We feel McGowan's intellectual needs, share his disappointments as he tracks contemporary debates, and find ourselves relieved and even thrilled when he finds paths for pragmatist thinking that enrich our appreciation of what intellectuals can do in contemporary America."—Charles Altieri, University of California Berkeley
"Fair-minded but passionately independent, commonsensical but throwing off sparks of originality on every page, McGowan is the ideal tour guide through the murkier concepts and debates of contemporary cultural politics."—Bruce Robbins, Columbia University