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Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch Hardcover – April 16, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co (April 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802817696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802817693
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Eric Miller has delivered a truly impressive work of careful narration and historical reclamation, one of the sort that his subject, perhaps most of all, would appreciate."
--Chris Lehmann, Bookforum

"A fine, thoughtful, and even moving book, its appearance could hardly be more opportune."
--Andrew Bacevich, World Affairs

"Eric Miller has written an intelligent and engaging Lasch life-story"
--David S. Brown, The American Conservative

From the Back Cover

Robert Coles

-- author of The Spiritual Life of Children
"In this book Eric Miller tellingly brings to life a very important twentieth-century American social and intellectual observer-critic. With brilliance and verve Christopher Lasch took a nation's pulse and scrutinized its flaws, ideas, and ideals. This biography expounds his candid wisdom and his impatience with pretense and hypocrisy -- a gift to all of us now as we try to figure out what matters, and why."

Will Campbell
-- author of Brother to a Dragonfly
"Anyone who wants to understand Christopher Lasch has only to read Eric Miller's Hope in a Scattering Time. That is because only one intellectual should write about another. Few in Lasch's time would question that he was a brilliant scholar. Few who read Miller's book can question that he is another. We give thanks for both."

Jean Bethke Elshtain
-- author of Democracy on Trial
"Eric Miller's Hope in a Scattering Time is an intellectual inquiry and a moving personal portrait of a true American original."

Wilfred McClay
-- author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America
"Christopher Lasch was a major intellectual figure in late twentieth-century America, one of the few whose reputation is likely to survive and grow with the passage of time. His brand of historically and psychologically informed social criticism was uncommonly prescient and remains surprisingly relevant to our current dilemmas. So does his example, as Eric Miller shows in this vivid and engaging book. Lasch's uncompromising independence cast him as Socrates in an age of sophists, and the sweeping range, critical intensity, high seriousness, and rigorous honesty of his writings won him warm admirers, many fierce critics, and a circle of brilliant and devoted students. Miller's biography brings all of this to life and, in the process, offers Lasch's life as a ringing case for the dignity of the intellectual's calling.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. K. Bonner on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book could have been titled An Intellectual Biography of Christopher Lasch. Instead its author, Eric Miller, a young professor of history, titled it Hope in a Scattering Time, a metaphor that captures brilliantly the erratic and dangerous times in which Lasch lived, and in which we still live.

Lasch (1932-1994), known as Kit by his parents, family, and friends, was an American historian who came of age during the height of the Cold War and died from cancer shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed. His mother, Zora Schaupp Lasch (1898-1982), gained a PhD in philosophy in 1925 from Bryn Mawr. For the times this alone would make her a most unusual woman. His father, Robert (1907-1998), was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford who became a journalist and then an editor. Both of Kit's parents were progressive, liberal democrats who were religious skeptics. They both nurtured and encouraged Kit, who as a prodigy was writing and editing his own newspaper as a boy. His parents provided him with sage advice and intellectual support throughout his entire life. At Harvard he toyed with becoming a fiction writer, and excelled in writing all his life. But his love of history beckoned, and he took a PhD in history from Columbia in 1961. Given this impressive background one might have supposed that he would mature into a progressive liberal like his parents and many of his generation. But Lasch was driven by deeper concerns and struck out in a divergent direction.

Lasch's two most defining characteristics were his uncanny prescience and his forthright integrity. He felt, intensely, that America had taken a wrong turn sometime in the late nineteenth-early twentieth century and that it was his job to clarify this wrong turn and to suggest how we might get back on the right path.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Illiniguy71 on August 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Lasch was perhaps the most important thinker practicing history in the U.S. in the second half of the 20th century. His books (The Culture of Narcissism was his most famous)drew fervid criticism from both left and right. He spent his career criticizing liberal progressivism and the shallow desire for betterment. But he was even more critical of conservatives. He thought corporate capitalism and disregard of social class to play large roles in producing the evil he saw around him in the modern world. Eventually, he came to praise tight-knit bourgeois family life, independent work, local community, and religious values as keys to the best life we can have in this world. Eric Miller has written a biography that is, generally, worthy of its subject. Lasch was a complex, difficult man. Miller has made an impressive first attempt to discern him and the importance of his work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is excellent biography and more. It is a bold yet careful study, analysis, appreciation, critique, and prophetic assessment of one of the seminal minds of the last century.
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