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This bold, insightful book argues that America today towers as the most philosophical culture in the history of the world, an unprecedented marketplace for truth and debate.
With verve and keen intelligence, Carlin Romano—Pulitzer Prize finalist, award-winning book critic, and professor of philosophy—takes on the widely held belief that the United States is an anti-intellectual country. Instead he provides a richly reported overview of American thought, arguing that ordinary Americans see through phony philosophical justifications faster than anyone else, and that the best of our thinkers ditch artificial academic debates for fresh intellectual enterprises. Along the way, Romano seeks to topple philosophy’s most fiercely admired hero, Socrates, asserting that it is Isocrates, the nearly forgotten Greek philosopher who rejected certainty, whom Americans should honor as their intellectual ancestor. America the Philosophical is a rebellious tour de force that both celebrates our country’s unparalleled intellectual energy and promises to bury some of our most hidebound cultural clichés.
“Ambitious. . . . Convincing. . . . An encyclopedic survey of the life of the mind in the United States. . . . Romano is enlightening when he analyzes American intellectual life and illustrates its liveliness.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Is the title a joke? . . . [Romano] argues, brilliantly and at length, that it is not.” —Harvard Magazine
“A high-speed tour of America’s big thinkers . . . . Romano is a cheerful and exuberant guide.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Genuinely exciting and provocative. . . . If Romano wanted to discombobulate the traditional landscape of American philosophy, he achieved his goal." —Umberto Eco
“Admirable. . . . Romano writes with the snap of a journalist.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A comprehensive intellectual history from Emerson to Rawls.” —The New Yorker
“Magisterial.” —Broad Street Review
“Romano’s remarkable book stands out in terms of ambition, breadth, provocativeness, and, when needed, a delicate touch.” —Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University, author of Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed
“Stimulating . . . graceful . . . exuberant. . . . Succeeds in filling one’s mind with the excitement of ideas duking it out.” —Seattle Times
“Both scholarly and entertaining—learned and stimulating—to an equal and extraordinary degree. America the Philosophical is one of the books of the year . . . A hugely enlightening compendium of intellectual heresy.” —The Buffalo News
“In an age when many debates are high-pitched screeds, how counterintuitive it is to argue that American philosophical thought is booming. But that’s trademark Romano. . . . Romano turns his subject into a narrative of people brought together by their love of ideas.” —Chicago Tribune
“Romano’s grip on his subject is fierce. . . . A tour de force—encyclopedic, entertaining and enlightening.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With illuminating anecdotes and an addictive prose style, Romano renders complex ideas lucid without sacrificing depth of understanding or his splendid sense of humor . . . breathtaking intellectual range and passion.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Part love letter, part hand grenade, Romano’s commentary is sure to delight and infuriate in a way that will underscore its thesis.” —Booklist
“Romano writes so well and unrolls his knowledge in such an unthreatening way that before you know it, you will be thinking philosophically yourself.” —Philip Seib, Director of the Center for Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California
“Romano offers a smart, sophisticated and counter-intuitive comparison of European and American culture. His language is rich and textured, but also contemporary and wry.” —Dallas Morning News
“Romano’s voracious intellectual curiosity is impressive—America the Philosophical is dense with amusing anecdotes.” —The Daily