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Comment: Fine. Cloth, D-j. 2004. Originally published at $34.98.
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Sidney Hook Reconsidered Hardcover – June 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

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The current intensification of scholarly interest in the response of US intellectuals to the rise and fall of American and Soviet Communism, the cold war, the radical student movements on campuses throughout the country, and neoconservatism has brought the controversial and fascinating views of Sidney Hook (1902-1989) once again to the attention of scholars of US thought and culture. Beginning his career as the first US scholar of Marxism, a leading disciple of John Dewey's naturalism and critical inquiry, and an early supporter of Marxist ideals, Hook eventually came to be well known as one of the most vigorous opponents of Stalinism. Throughout his long an unquiet life, Hook was revered as the heir to Dewey's legacy of critical intelligence and democracy and was renowned as a brilliant polemicist. Yet he was an independent thinker, unconstrained by conventional (and increasingly polarized) American political thought-often eliciting criticism from all points of the political spectrum.

In SIDNEY HOOK RECONSIDERED, Matthew J. Cotter edits a collection of essays originally presented at a centennial celebration honoring Hook's life and career. Articles by both former students, colleagues, allies, and adversaries, as well as younger scholars, who offer fresh insights into Hook's philosophical significance, are included. David Sidorsky contributes a detailed introduction to the development of Hook's work and thought; the remaining essays are divided into three parts. The first deals with Hook's role in the American philosophical tradition, with essays by Barbara Forrest, Robert B. Talisse, Michael Eldridge, Paul Kurtz, and Marvin Kohl. topics discussed include Hook's thoughts on philosophical pragmatism, secularism, the use of violence, and dogmatic politics versus public inquiry. The second part addresses Hook's place in the intellectual tradition of the United States, with essays by Steven M. Cahn, Christopher Phelps, Edward Shapiro, Gary Bullert, and Neil Jumonville. Hook's early affiliation with Marxism; his connection to his mentor, John Dewey; and his thoughts on education and open discussion are among the issues presented. The final part consists of reminiscences by three men who knew Hook personally: Nathan Glazer, Tibor R. Machan, and Bruce Wilshire.

With a full bibliography of Hook's works and reviews of them, plus an afterword by Richard Rorty, this outstanding collection of essays presents an excellent reassessment of one of the United States' most misunderstood public philosophers and will make provocative reading for anyone interested in the intellectual history of the cold war and the complex sociopolitics of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Matthew J. Cotter (Brooklyn, NY) has been a lecturer at William Paterson University, Baruch College and Hunter College at the City University of New York (CUNY). He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in American history at the City University of New York's Graduate Center.

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More About the Author

Christopher Phelps is a historian of American political and intellectual life who teaches American Studies at the University of Nottingham.

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