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The American Century: Varieties of Culture in Modern Times Hardcover – April, 1997
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Norman Cantor writes as if he were present for each event and movement, both large and small, since 1900, so clear is his analysis of society, culture, and politics. In this massive book Cantor tackles seemingly everything--whether modernism, folk music, psychoanalysis, or the atomic bomb--placing each in its proper context while cleverly intertwining themes and drawing intriguing comparisons. A distinguished scholar of history, sociology, and comparative history, Cantor deftly incorporates a staggering amount of information and observations into a coherent package that will challenges readers' perceptions and ideas. Spiced with wit and wisdom, The American Century is at turns brilliant, controversial, and fascinating.
From Library Journal
A revised and expanded version of Twentieth Century Culture, Modernism to Deconstruction (Lang, 1988), this is a wonderful summing up of Western civilization in the 20th century, with fascinating chapters on modernism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, fascism, and Postmodernism. This should be in all public and college libraries.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
My complaint is that the author appears seriously misinformed on some of the scientific subjects about which he writes. Granted, Cantor is not a natural scientist, and the book is not primarily about science. Still, what he chooses to include about chemistry and physics ought to be correct. For example (p. 19), Cantor is completely mistaken about the role of the periodic table in modern chemistry (or, as he would have it, the lack of a role); he even gives the wrong date for its discovery (no later than 1869, not 1890 as stated). I can be less categorical about a quotation of Einstein's purporting to show that Einstein knew his theory of relativity was akin to philosophical relativism; however, based on the content and date of the quote (1928) and on my knowledge that relativity retains the principle of causality, I think the quote is much more likely to be about quantum mechanics, about which Einstein (as Cantor notes) had serious misgivings.
Rather than belabor examples, I'll close by stating that these errors undermined the book's authority in my eyes. Granted, a book as opinionated as this generates a healthy skepticism in any critical reader: that is part of the book's attraction and, I assume, part of the author's intent. But by writing inaccurately about matters I know about (I am a chemist), Cantor makes me wonder which, if any, of the other subjects reflect similar misinformation.
My time today was not wasted - but beware.