The best essays from America’s premier cultural historian
Jackson Lears has been hailed as “America’s premier cultural historian,” the “dean of American cultural history,” and “one of the few pre-eminent historians of our time.” Well known for his elegant, daring scholarship on topics such as antimodernism, advertising, and luck, Lears has also been a critic and essayist whose public-facing writings—published in journals such as the New Republic, The Nation, the London Review of Books, and the New York Review of Books—have explored a variety of subjects and themes, both contemporary and historical, from modern environmentalism to liberal arts education, from the plastics industry to the happiness industry, from Theodore Roosevelt to Seymour Hersh, from Van Wyck Brooks to Anne Applebaum.
The essays collected here, written over the course of over forty years, are absorbing reading for anyone interested in American history, culture, or intellectual life, and provide models of an engaged critic at work on topics and figures both high and low. Offering compelling lenses on historical subjects while setting contemporary culture in rich historical perspective, the essays bridge the gap between history and social commentary and afford a sweeping view of the changing intellectual scene from 1977 to the present.
Jackson Lears is Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University and the editor of Raritan: A Quarterly Review. He lives in western New Jersey. Charlie Riggs is a writer and historian. He lives in Brookline, MA.
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