Anti-intellectualism in American Life was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Non- Fiction. It is a book which throws light on many features of the American. A book which throws light on many features of the American character. Its concern is not merely to portray the scorners of intellect in American life, but to say. Richard Hofstadter’s famous Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, his tenth book, earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction (). This “personal book,”.

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These schools will monopolize all avenues of approach to the Government. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. They have no breadth either of shoulders, information or ambition. American religion is a dichotomy between people who believe that understanding not only the Bible, but historical writings in religion and philosophy are important to understanding the word of God.

Arguably, the social status of intellectuals has plunged steadily downward since He tells a good but familiar history, and it was free from Hoopla and was listenable. The author could not have imagined the propaganda machines that political machines would create to perpetuate the anti-intellectual fever in America. This book is not nearly as snotty as the title makes it sound. What I fear is a government of experts. All that might fall under the rubrik of “anti-intellectual,” but that’s putting forward an awfully narrow and conservative idea of what “intellectual” is.

I found that parts of this section dragged a bit, particularly the minutiae of the civil service, but it was a very good primer on each president’s attitudes. They are insiders who sometimes revel in torpedoing the knowledge establishment and colleagues from the inside.

Through the 19th and into the 20th century schools became increasingly seen as a way to learn skills necessary to make a livelihood and participate in democracy, while support for more academic education continued to erode.


So does Hofstadter, whose long view instructs us that, at least for professors-as-intellectuals, we’ve always been a minority game, though once in a while–the first six Presidential administrations, the tenure of both Roosevelts, Wilson, and possibly Kennedy–the life of the mind has been cherished, not scorned, by the masses.

But I certainly appreciate its necessity.

Thought I had while reading this book: The fundamentalist religion with a fundamental Americanism often exhibits a mind hfstadter committed and entirely refuse of challenge. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Anti-intellectualism in American Life – Wikipedia

When once he does pass his school and fixes himself for life, his next care will be to get his children there also. With slight modifications this book could be written today.

Hofdtadter the myth of the common man’s wisdom explains the marginalization of intellectuals in most of our federal history, the “mystique of practicality,” which Hofstadter calls “spiritually crippling”explains the traditional polarity between the realm of business and the realm of the intellect.

As a result there is an emphasis on the commercial applications of science and a resulting decline in basic research and knowledge for its own sake ricahrd no apparent value in the marketplace.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter | : Books

Hofstadter deservedly analyzes the Scopes Trial as one climax for his chapters on evangelism, and states that, as ofin many parts of the country “the [evolution] controversy is still alive”and that “the language of most secondary-school biology texts is guarded, and evolution is taught in many places only by indirection” The intellectual is critical, creative and contemplative.

How have conditions for intellectuals improved or worsened? The intellectual elite were not generally capable of making money themselves, but were absolutely capable of creating a system that transferred money and power to them, that enabled them to take money made by others and use it how they saw fit.


In these he documents American patterns of evangelism, primitivism, business activism, and egalitarianism, in each case tracing the story from the intellectualksm century through the mid-twentieth century. Hofstadter explores the development of the American bias against intellectuals.

The book is essentially a study of the rampant anti-intellectualism that is strife in America today and as it was in when Richard wrote this book. He examines, ponders, wonders, imagines whereas the intelligent man grasps, manipulates and creates order. They give up all pretension in dress. Instead, he claims the nineteenth-century association of intellect with effeminacy commonplace before Teddy Roosevelt plagued Stevenson. Moreover it leads to the creation of temples of intellectual devotion e.

In politics egalitarianism worked to the detriment of intellectuals. One could argue that the technologies themselves are anti-intellectual.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Perhaps they don’t want such news because it interferes with bedrock religious convictions. Certainly Anti-Intellectualism earned Hofstadter high praise, and remains one of the definitive words on the subject.

It is a rich, complex, shifting picture of the life of the mind in a society dominated by the ideal of practical success. Goes a long way to explain the history of intellectual life in America, examining religion, formal education, business, and politics.

Plenty of credible intellectuals were for the educational ideas and some of the other demo-populist social trends he covers, whereas you can’t find many if any who were for the loonier stuff.