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The Twilight of the American Enlightenment : The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief
by George M. Marsden


Overview - In the aftermath of World War II, the United States stood at a precipice. The forces of modernity unleashed by the war had led to astonishing advances in daily life, but technology and mass culture also threatened to erode the country's traditional moral character.  Read more...

 
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More About The Twilight of the American Enlightenment by George M. Marsden
 
 
 
Overview
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States stood at a precipice. The forces of modernity unleashed by the war had led to astonishing advances in daily life, but technology and mass culture also threatened to erode the country's traditional moral character. As award-winning historian George M. Marsden explains in The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, postwar Americans looked to the country's secular, liberal elites for guidance in this precarious time, but these intellectuals proved unable to articulate a coherent common cause by which America could chart its course. Their failure lost them the faith of their constituents, paving the way for a Christian revival that offered America a firm new moral visionone rooted in the Protestant values of the founders.
A groundbreaking reappraisal of the country's spiritual reawakening, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment shows how America found new purpose at the dawn of the Cold War.
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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780465030101
  • ISBN-10: 0465030106
  • Publisher: Basic Books (AZ)
  • Publish Date: February 2014
  • Page Count: 219


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - 20th Century
Books > Political Science > Political Ideologies - Conservatism & Liberalism
Books > Religion > Religion, Politics & State

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-12-09
  • Reviewer: Staff

Under the surface of a seemingly placid era roiled a cauldron of doubts and discontent, according to this penetrating study of post-war intellectual ferment. Bancroft Prize–winning historian Marsden (Fundamentalism and American Culture) surveys the social and cultural developments that made the 1950s an unsettling time for contemporary thinkers: the menace of nuclear war; an affluent but shallow consumer society; the displacement of traditional authority and community by individualism; a new creed of science and psychology that eclipsed conventional religious doctrine; television. He sets these trends against a reigning orthodoxy of pragmatic liberalism that, he argues, hewed to the Enlightenment ideals of America’s founders while abandoning their belief in a rational moral order, a theme that he explores through engaging, perceptive critical exegeses of the writings of contemporary public intellectuals, including Walter Lippmann, Betty Friedan, B. F. Skinner, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Through these critiques Marsden provocatively diagnoses the decay of a liberal ideology unmoored from philosophical foundations, a decay, he contends, that set the stage for the cultural revolution of the 1960s and a resurgent religious right in the 1970s. Marsden’s erudite, sophisticated, but very accessible study reveals the suppressed spiritual hunger of a secular age. (Feb.)

 
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