No one understands the struggle with authority at the heart of American liberalism better than James Block, and no one conveys more vividly its vitality and inner tension. Following up his arresting depiction of America as A Nation of Agents
, Block now considers the cultivation of liberal citizens, of men and women who would internalize cultural expectations and obligations without losing their innate spontaneity, creativity, and love of freedom. Recovering a preoccupation with this problem in the nineteenth-century literature on child rearing, The Crucible of Consent
reminds us of the best in our national character and of the complications that have come to impede its latter-day expression. (Stephen Skowronek, Yale University)
A fresh and richly illuminating work, based on profound scholarship and written with verve, passion, and occasional eloquence. The Crucible of Consent
is an agenda-setting work that we will be reckoning with for a long time. (Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania)
A major reinterpretation of the history of American childhood and child rearing, with a powerful and persuasive central thesis. The sweep of the narrative is breathtaking and the degree of erudition remarkable. (John Rury, University of Kansas)
About the Author
James E. Block is Associate Professor of Political Science at DePaul University.