American Studies by Louis Menand

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At each step of this journey through American cultural history, Louis Menand has an original point to make: he explains the real significance of William James's nervous breakdown, and of the anti-Semitism in T. S. Eliot's writing. He reveals the reasons for the remarkable commercial successes of William Shawn's New Yorker and William Paley's CBS. He uncovers the connection between Larry Flynt's Hustler and Jerry Falwell's evangelism, between the atom bomb and the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He locates the importance of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, Pauline Kael, Christopher Lasch, and Rolling Stone magazine. And he lends an ear to Al Gore in the White House as the Starr Report is finally presented to the public.

Like his critically acclaimed bestseller, The Metaphysical Club, American Studies is intellectual and cultural history at its best: game and detached, with a strong curiosity about the political underpinnings of ideas and about the reasons successful ideas insinuate themselves into the culture at large. From one of our leading thinkers and critics, known both for his "sly wit and reportorial high-jinks [and] clarity and rigor" (The Nation), these essays are incisive, surprising, and impossible to put down.


About Louis Menand

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Louis Menand is a professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a staff writer at The New Yorker, and has been a contributing editor of The New York Review of Books since 1994. He is the author of Discovering Modernism: T. S. Eliot and His Context and the editor of The Future of Academic Freedom and Pragmatism: A Reader.
Published November 1, 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 325 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A fascinating bit of sleuthing about William James’s mental health (“William James and the Case of the Epileptic Patient”) could have been a part of The Metaphysical Club, as might “The Principles of Oliver Wendell Holmes,” the latter familiar indeed to Menand’s readers.

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Publishers Weekly

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The success of The Metaphysical Club, which won last year's Pulitzer Prize for History, surprised few regular readers of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, where Menand has contributed many of the most thoughtful review-essays of the last decade.

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Star Tribune

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Is there a literary gumshoe as exciting as Louis Menand?

Dec 14 2002 | Read Full Review of American Studies

Entertainment Weekly

a piece on the '60s counterculture begins: ''If you advised a college student today to tune in, turn on, and drop out, she would probably call campus security.'' Taking ideas apart to show you how they work (or fail to), Menand fashions edifying entertainment.

Dec 06 2002 | Read Full Review of American Studies

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