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The Moral Imagination: From Adam Smith to Lionel Trilling Paperback – July 30, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442218291 ISBN-10: 1442218290 Edition: Second Edition
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Editorial Reviews


The Scrapbook is a big fan of the distinguished historian Gertrude Himmelfarb,(Really, who isn't?) So we were very pleased to learn that Rowman & Littlefield has just published a new, expanded edition of her superb collection of essays
The Moral Imagination. The subtitle of the 2006 edition was “From Edmund Burke to Lionel Trilling.” The new subtitle is “From Adam Smith to Lionel Trilling,” reflecting the fact that the new volume features three additional essays, on Smith, Lord Acton, and Alfred Marshall. So now you get 15 dazzling studies of men ranging from John Stuart Mill to Michael Buchan, and Walter Bagehot to Winston Churchill. And, The Scrapbook hastens to add only partly for fear of being accused of complicity in the famed war on women, not just men-the essays on Jane Austen and George Eliot are two of our favorites. Buy the book and send copies to your friends-you’ll thank us for the recommendation, and they’ll thank you (and Himmelfarb) for the reading enjoyment, the historical education, and the intellectual stimulation.
(The Weekly Standard)

Fresh insights are to be found throughout the book by juxtaposing authors, by understanding them within their own times, by pulling them out and learning from them as if they were our contemporaries. . . .Moral imagination is not the sum total of wisdom, but it is clear from this collection of essays that it is a necessary part of it. The subjects of her essays have helped form our moral imaginations, almost entirely for the better, and reading this book is an excellent way to see how it was done. (Society)

Gertrude Himmelfarb has single-handedly revived the prestige of the Victorians. Her writings on such figures as Lord Acton, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, and others, along with the topics of social and political life among the the Victorians, has demonstrated how truly eminent the Victorians were. Professor Himmelfarb's books make unmistakably plain that Victorian England was an artistic and intellectual period that rivaled that of fifth century Athens and was perhaps as great an era as any the western world has known. I do not know any intellectual achievement on the part of an historian over the past century that compares to Gertrude Himmelfarb's. (Joseph Epstein)

In fifteen lapidary essays, Gertrude Himmelfarb, America's greatest historian of 19th and 20th century thinkers and their thoughts, provides a map of the intellectual terrain we still inhabit and a path to higher moral ground. (George F. Will, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post)

Gertrude Himmelfarb has given us history that's fun again, written in prose so graceful that you almost don't notice the breathtaking erudition. Let The Moral Imagination fall open to any random page and read. You won't stop. (Charles Murray)

Gertrude Himmelfarb undertakes a subtle, often lyrical, examination of the moral sensibilities that underlie social and political life by way of a series of brilliant critiques/appreciations of the great Anglo-American writers that have most shaped hers. The result is an intellectual tour de force–a meditation on conservatism as political, philosophical and moral modesty–that is prodigiously learned, profoundly wise and remarkably timely. (Charles Krauthammer)

About the Author

Gertrude Himmelfarb was born in New York City and studied at Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago. A distinguished historian, she has received numerous honorary degrees, fellowships, and awards, including the 2004 National Humanities Medal. She is a fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Society of American Historians. She has written extensively on Victorian England and more generally on intellectual and cultural history.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Second Edition edition (July 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442218290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442218291
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,091,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gderf on August 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a very thoughtful and thought provoking study of morality in economics and literature through short biographical sketches and analysis of specific works of writers from Adam Smith to Lionel Trilling. There is interesting analysis of works by familiar authors like Dickens, Eliot and Churchill.
Jane Austen is included for a discussion on the difference between morals and manners. There are much referenced but rarely read writers such as Bagehot and Lord Acton. Most interesting and educational of all is the introduction to works of unfamiliar authors like John Buchan, Michael Oakshott and the Knox brothers.

The book leaves me with a desire for more. I'd really like to get this author's take on modern moralists like Rawls or Singer or other omissions like Toynbee and John Ruskin.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jbtheref on November 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd been looking for this book for a long time. It's great reading and is one you'll read more than once.
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