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Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age Paperback – May 25, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0231128957 ISBN-10: 0231128959

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Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age + The End Of Utopia: Politics And Culture In An Age Of Apathy + The Last Intellectuals American Culture In The Age Of Academe
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231128959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231128957
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A frequent reviewer for the Nation and the Los Angeles Times Book Review, UCLA historian Jacoby here follows up on his The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy with a historically nuanced polemic. In four beautifully crafted, highly allusive essays, Jacoby excavates a plethora of utopian movements, with an emphasis on Jewish traditions and thinkers, with the aim of getting readers to dream of a better world. The first chapter immediately confronts the 20th century's giant utopian failure: totalitarianism in its various forms. The second chapter details philosophical (and particularly liberal) objections to utopian thought generally. The next chapter concentrates on Zionism as it was originally envisioned, moving from Mordechai Noah and Theodor Herzl to Martin Buber, Gustav Landauer and Fritz Mauthner. The last chapter, "A Longing that Cannot Be Uttered," treats god as a kind of utopia, looks at a variety of Jewish approaches to the sacred. A tremendous amount of ground is covered along the way, and Jacoby's idiosyncratic connections won't move everyone. But as one person's attempt "to build castles in the sky" (in Lewis Mumford's phrase), the book works beautifully.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


In four beautifully crafted, highly allusive essays, Jacoby excavates a plethora of utopian movements...with the aim of getting readers to dream of a better world.

(Publishers Weekly)

Like all of Russell Jacoby's books, Picture Imperfect is a timely, passionate, bravely unfashionable intervention.... this is a book to be treasured.

(Terry Eagleton Nation)

A timely collection of essays...Essential.


In Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age Jacoby... asks the big, subversive questions.

(Michael Hirsch Dissident Voice)

Jacoby offers a provocative, concise, and well-researched book-length essay about traditional utopian thinking... Recommended.


By attuning our ears to the distant murmur, Russell Jacoby has performed an invaluable service in Picture Imperfect.

(Douglas W. Texter H-Net Reviews)

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Daniels on January 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall, I enjoyed this work by Jacoby and wanted this book to complete a series I am currently in the midst of covering.
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