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The Age of American Unreason
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About the Author

SUSAN JACOBY is the author of eleven previous books, including Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion. Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and in forums that include The American Prospect, Dissent, and The Daily Beast. She lives in New York City. For more information, visit www.susanjacoby.com.

Reviews

Infotainment. Religious fundamentalism. Lousy public schools. That's just some of the evidence social critic -Jacoby dredges up in this analysis of America's widening anti-intellectual streak. With a five-city tour. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Inspired by Richard Hofstadter's trenchant 1963 cultural analysis Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Jacoby (Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism) has produced an engaging, updated and meticulously thought-out continuation of her academic idol's research. Dismayed by the average U.S. citizen's political and social apathy and the overall "crisis of memory and knowledge involving everything about the way we learn and think," Jacoby passionately argues that the nation's current cult of unreason has deadly and destructive consequences (the war in Iraq, for one) and traces the seeds of current anti-intellectualism (and its partner in crime, antirationalism) back to post-WWII society. Unafraid of pointing fingers, she singles out mass media and the resurgence of fundamentalist religion as the primary "vectors" of anti-intellectualism, while also having harsh words for pseudoscientists. Through historical research, Jacoby breaks down popular beliefs that the 1950s were a cultural wasteland and the 1960s were solely a breeding ground for liberals. Though sometimes partial to inflated prose ("America's endemic anti-intellectual tendencies have been grievously exacerbated by a new species of semiconscious anti-rationalism"), Jacoby has assembled an erudite mix of personal anecdotes, cultural history and social commentary to decry America's retreat into "junk thought." (Feb. 12) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"There are few subjects more timely than the one tackled by Jacoby. . . . Her book is smart [and] well-researched."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Forceful. . . . Cogently argued. . . . An intellectual journey of the first order."--Chicago Tribune "One hopes Jacoby's incisive book will find an audience among the unconverted who will take her warnings seriously."--San Francisco Chronicle "Provocative, well-written and often witty."--USA Today "Jacoby's is a moderate, sensible, well-founded position, shared by many Americans, yet it somehow rarely got voiced amid the raging hyperbole of the culture wars. "--Salon "Jacoby deploys sharp insight on our present straits"--Los Angeles Times "Trenchant ...One hopes her incisive book, just in time for the 2008 elections, will find an audience among the unconverted who will take her warnings seriously."--San Francisco Chronicle "A surprising and uncommonly sophisticated treatment of a familiar topic."--New York Observer "The Age of American Unreason picks up where Richard Hofstadter left off. With analytic verve and deep historical knowledge, Susan Jacoby documents the dumbing down of our culture like a maestro. make no mistake about it, this is an important book."--Douglas Brinkley, residential historian and author of The Great Deluge "This is one of the most eye-opening books I've read in a long time. Jacoby charts the intellectual and cultural currents that have characterized the United States since its founding and explains just how and why Americans have recently become so, well, dumb. Anyone who cares about the future of our country will want to read it."--Marcia Angell, editor in chief emerita, New England Journal of Medicine "Jacoby has written a brilliant, sad story of the anti-intellectualism and lack of reasonable thought that has put this country in one of the sorriest states in its history."--Helen Thomas, author of Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public "Jacoby's fearless jeremiad, at once passionate, witty, and solidly grounded in facts, aries at a propitious moment, when many Americans are perceiving that ignorance conjoined to arrogance can be deadly. This book deserves to be widely read, and especially by concerned parents. As Jacoby insists, it is only within families that some immunity to mind-numbing 'infotainment' can now be acquired. First, however, there must be a will to resist--and if this stirring book can't rally it, nothing can."--Frederick Crews, author of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays "To a country of underachievers and proud of it, this book delivers a magnificent, occasionally hilarious kick in the pants. Snap out of it, Jacoby says: Getting it right matters. Tough talk and wicked wit in the tradition of Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life and Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death."--Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

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