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Book Title: The Paranoid Style in American Politics|
The author of the book: Richard Hofstadter
Date of issue: June 10th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780307388445
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 777 KB
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This timely reissue of Richard Hofstadter's classic work on the fringe groups that influence American electoral politics offers an invaluable perspective on contemporary domestic affairs.In The Paranoid Style in American Politics, acclaimed historian Richard Hofstadter examines the competing forces in American political discourse and how fringe groups can influence — and derail — the larger agendas of a political party. He investigates the politics of the irrational, shedding light on how the behavior of individuals can seem out of proportion with actual political issues, and how such behavior impacts larger groups. With such other classic essays as “Free Silver and the Mind of 'Coin' Harvey” and “What Happened to the Antitrust Movement?, ” The Paranoid Style in American Politics remains both a seminal text of political history and a vital analysis of the ways in which political groups function in the United States.
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Read information about the authorRichard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual, historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University. In the course of his career, Hofstadter became the “iconic historian of postwar liberal consensus” whom twenty-first century scholars continue consulting, because his intellectually engaging books and essays continue to illuminate contemporary history.
His most important works are Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860–1915 (1944); The American Political Tradition (1948); The Age of Reform (1955); Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963), and the essays collected in The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1964). He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize: in 1956 for The Age of Reform, an unsentimental analysis of the populism movement in the 1890s and the progressive movement of the early 20th century; and in 1964 for the cultural history, Anti-intellectualism in American Life.
Richard Hofstadter was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1916 to a German American Lutheran mother and a Polish Jewish father, who died when he was ten. He attended the City Honors School, then studied philosophy and history at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1933, under the diplomatic historian Julius Pratt. As he matured, he culturally identified himself primarily as a Jew, rather than as a Protestant Christian, a stance that eventually may have cost him professorships at Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, because of the institutional antisemitism of the 1940s.
As a man of his time, Richard Hofstadter was a Communist, and a member of the Young Communist League at university, and later progressed to Communist Party membership. In 1936, he entered the doctoral program in history at Columbia University, where Merle Curti was demonstrating how to synthesize intellectual, social, and political history based upon secondary sources rather than primary-source archival research. In 1938, he joined the Communist Party of the USA, yet realistically qualified his action: “I join without enthusiasm, but with a sense of obligation.... My fundamental reason for joining is that I don’t like capitalism and want to get rid of it. I am tired of talking.... The party is making a very profound contribution to the radicalization of the American people.... I prefer to go along with it now.” In late 1939, he ended the Communist stage of his life, because of the Soviet–Nazi alliance. He remained anti-capitalist: “I hate capitalism and everything that goes with it.”
In 1942, he earned his doctorate in history and in 1944 published his dissertation Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860–1915, a pithy and commercially successful (200,000 copies) critique of late 19th century American capitalism and those who espoused its ruthless “dog-eat-dog” economic competition and justified themselves by invoking the doctrine of as Social Darwinism, identified with William Graham Sumner. Conservative critics, such as Irwin G. Wylie and Robert C. Bannister, however, disagree with this interpretation.
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