The Age Of American Unreason

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The Age Of American Unreason

by Susan Jacoby

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | February 10, 2009 | Trade Paperback

The Age Of American Unreason is rated 3 out of 5 by 1.
A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreason focuses on the convergence of social forces-usually treated as separate entities-that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 pages, 7.95 × 5.12 × 0.83 in

Published: February 10, 2009

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400096383

ISBN - 13: 9781400096381

Found in: Religion and Spirituality

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?? Susan Jacoby tackles the problem of anti-intellectualism in modern day America by taking the reader through a historical survey of American rationalism before launching into her polemic on contemporary American rationality. "The Age of American Unreason" is meant to be a follow-up to Richard Hofstadter's '63 standard text on anti-intellectualism in America. I have to say that Jacoby is only partially successfully in making her point, which is that America is dumber now than when it was founded. She attempts to backup her claim by providing a few convenient anecdotes and most importantly glosses over the complex issue of contemporary religious fundamentalism. Certainly there is much more than just the familiar evolution versus intelligent design debate of which Jacoby fails to "enlighten" (pardon the pun) us on. I must give credit to Jacoby for her well-researched and well-documented history of rationalism up to the 60s. Unlike other reviews I have read, this is the strongest part of the book and is well worth reading if just for that epistemology. However, overall, Jacoby's argument falls flat and left me unconvinced that America is in fact in an age of unreason.
Date published: 2008-07-29

– More About This Product –

The Age Of American Unreason

The Age Of American Unreason

by Susan Jacoby

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 pages, 7.95 × 5.12 × 0.83 in

Published: February 10, 2009

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400096383

ISBN - 13: 9781400096381

About the Book

Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon--one that is at odds with the nation's heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern, secular knowledge.

Read from the Book

The Way We Live Now: Just Us FolksThe word is everywhere, a plague spread by the President of the United States, television anchors, radio talk show hosts, preachers in megachurches, self-help gurus, and anyone else attempting to demonstrate his or her identification with ordinary, presumably wholesome American values. Only a few decades ago, Americans were addressed as people or, in the more distant past, ladies and gentlemen. Now we are all folks. Television commentators, apparently confusing themselves with the clergy, routinely declare that “our prayers go out to those folks”—whether the folks are victims of drought, hurricane, flood, child molestation, corporate layoffs, identity theft, or the war in Iraq (as long as the victims are American and not Iraqi). Irony is reserved for fiction. Philip Roth, in The Plot Against America—a dark historical reimagining of a nation in which Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election—confers the title “Just Folks” on a Lindbergh program designed to de-Judaize young urban Jews by sending them off to spend their summers in wholesome rural and Christian settings.While the word “folks” was once a colloquialism with no political meaning, there is no escaping the political meaning of the term when it is reverently invoked by public officials in twenty-first-century America. After the terrorist bombings in London on July 7, 2005, President Bush assured Americans, “I’ve been in contact with our homeland
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From the Publisher

A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreason focuses on the convergence of social forces-usually treated as separate entities-that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.

From the Jacket

“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

About the Author

Susan Jacoby is the author of seven previous books, most recently Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, which was named a Notable Book of 2004 by the Washington Post and The Times Literary Supplement. She lives in New York City.

Editorial Reviews

“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 an
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