- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (February 12, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375423745
- ISBN-13: 978-0375423741
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 223 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.59 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Age of American Unreason Hardcover – February 12, 2008
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon--one that is at odds with our heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern, secular knowledge and science. With mordant wit, she surveys an anti-rationalist landscape extending from pop culture to a pseudo-intellectual universe of "junk thought." Disdain for logic and evidence defines a pervasive malaise fostered by the mass media, triumphalist religious fundamentalism, mediocre public education, a dearth of fair-minded public intellectuals on the right and the left, and, above all, a lazy and credulous public.
Jacoby offers an unsparing indictment of the American addiction to infotainment--from television to the Web--and cites this toxic dependency as the major element distinguishing our current age of unreason from earlier outbreaks of American anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism. With reading on the decline and scientific and historical illiteracy on the rise, an increasingly ignorant public square is dominated by debased media-driven language and received opinion.
At this critical political juncture, nothing could be more important than recognizing the "overarching crisis of memory and knowledge" described in this impassioned, tough-minded book, which challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what the flights from reason has cost us as individuals and as a nation.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Well -- if you haven't read this fine (if deeply unsettling) book yet, there's no better time for it. Jacoby is smart, witty, and passionate about the dead-end direction so many Americans are taking today. As for the complaints about her use of anecdotal evidence, this is as much cri de coeur as it is thoroughly researched study. It's meant to make you feel as well as think, and then think some more. Civilization can be a thin & fragile veneer, all too easily lost when not enough people uphold & defend it. Start here -- most highly recommended!
That comment withstanding, however, Jacoby's argument is to extend Hofstadter's argument from 1963 Anti-intellectualism in American Life into the 21st century. Well she might, given this last pathetic election and the ascension of Trumpism.
I found this book to be a good intellectual history. As Jacoby notes, it is harder to trace anti-intellectualism than it is to track the development of ideas, since the development of ideas involves advocacy and publication, whereas anti-intellectualism is a "stance."
Jacoby is persuasive. There is a lot of evidence that anti-intellectualism is distributed throughout our history but coalesces periodically into political movements such as Know-Nothingism, Red-baiting, McCarthyism, the Tea Party, and now Trumpism, in which the anti-intellectual glue is meant to hold the self together.
A lot of us are poorly educated and have no further interest in school. A lot of us are stupid. But it takes a special venom to become anti-intellectual, a cultural cast fed by ignorance, fear, distrust, and anomie--which glues one's self to the "flag" of the group.