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The Creators

New or Used: 20 copies from $32.45
New or Used: 20 copies from $32.45

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About the Author

Daniel J. Boorstin was the author of The Americans, a trilogy (The Colonial Experience; The National Experience, and The Democratic Experience) that won the Francis Parkman Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1989, he received the National Book Award for lifetime contribution to literature. He was the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and for twelve years served as the Librarian of Congress. He died in 2004.


In an ambitious companion volume to The Discoverers, Boorstin undertakes an interpretative history of creativity in Western civilization encompassing all the arts. Creativity, he suggests, is a relatively recent phenomenon with Judeo-Christian roots: the Jews' covenant with Yahweh ``sealed . . . man's capacity to imitate God as a creator,'' and Christianity, by turning our gaze to the future, ``played a leading role in the discovery of our powers to create.'' In the eminent historian's Eurocentric scenario, the Buddha ``aimed at Un-Creation'' and intimated the existence of a supreme power who was ``no model for man the creator.'' Likewise, Boorstin presents Islamic religion as ``the inhibitor of the arts,'' and his chapter-length forays into Chinese painting and Japanese architecture are unsatisfying, leaving the impression that the truly great creative endeavors are the province of the West. Nevertheless, this is an enormously stimulating volume, an epic work of immeasurable riches. Boorstin contemplates architects' attempts to conquer time and outlast the brief span of human life through prehistoric megaliths, Egypt's pyramids, Greek temples, the Roman Pantheon and modern-day skyscrapers. He offers wonderfully attuned readings of varied versions of the human comedy from Boccaccio and Chaucer to Balzac. Modern writers, he asserts, created the self by probing ``the wilderness within,'' as chapters here on Melville, Dostoyevski, Kafka, Joyce and Virginia Woolf attest. Highly opinionated and quirky, Boorstin says virtually nothing about Mozart's unique triumphs of the spirit, yet he exalts Beethoven as a ``prophet and pioneer.'' Packed with shrewd, pithy judgments and entertaining biographical profiles of Dante, Da Vinci, Goethe, Ben Franklin, Picasso and dozens more, this eloquent, remarkable synthesis sets the achievements of individual creative geniuses into a coherent narrative framework of humanity's advance from darkness and ignorance. First serial to U.S. News & World Report; BOMC main selection. (Sept.) .

While the ultimate subject of former Librarian of Congress Boorstin's encore to his best seller The Discoverers ( LJ 11/15/83) is the culture of the ``literate West,'' the great episodes/great persons theme justifies the grandiose subtitle. In this work of breadth and uncontested erudition, readers will almost assuredly find a topic or two outside their ken but invested here with vivid clarity. Most of the chapters are actually self-contained essays, many tours de force, but while these stories display a certain connectedness, there is little of the continuity and change that characterizes historical discourse. Boorstin's heroes include obvious choices but also baffling selections, e.g., Jacob Burckhardt, the man who defined the Renaissance in modern times. Women, specifically Virginia Woolf, are relegated to a single chapter of their own. He generally ignores ``low'' entertainment except when posterity has awarded it the imprimatur of high culture. Ironically, his account suggests the artist's quest for freedom in this world is a Western axiom, despite the McCarthy legacy. This is a very long but completely engrossing book that academic and public libraries must acquire.-- Scott H. Silver man, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., Pa.

"The capston to one of the greatest careers in the history of American intellectual endeavor. With The Creators, Boorstin enters the ranks of the 'heroes of the imagination.'" --George F. Will

"A remarkable achievement an a pleasure to read." --The New York Times Book Review "There are few writers who could tackle so vast a subject with as much verve or self-assurance or infectious enthusiam as Boorstin. . . . He combines lively opinion a distinguished historian's erudition, with a first-class journalist's clarity and eye for the revealing anecdote . . . irresitible." --USA Today

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