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.
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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.
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