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soft cover

202 pp.

US $20.00

ISBN-13: 978-1-934542-07-1

ISBN-10: 1-934542-48-5

 

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John H. Summers, Every Fury on Earth

 

A PenMark Press Book

 

 

The essays in this volume, in subject, vary from trends in higher education to the histories of sex scandals and dreaming in American politics; from the radical left in San Francisco to the utopian ego driving information technology; from the intellectual biographies of James Agee and Richard Hofstadter to Christopher Hitchens and C. Wright Mills. No one theme or person or subject dominates. Although the essays are in spirit critical, they do not advance the interests of any party or group or milieu.
    The author invites readers to regard the essays as the result of a sensibility that wants to make knowledge available for intellectual self-defense. In this regard, the subjects selected themselves, each of them having puzzled, angered, or startled him in the decade since 1998 when he began writing for publication. He had turned away from the rural conservatism of his youth, which held violence and tradition to be the motors of history, only to find himself superfluous, delivered neither to the Old Left nor the New Left, but, instead, to no Left at all. Becoming radically aware of politics and culture in the Age of Reagan absolved him of the old cycle of illusion and disillusion, but only because there were no longer any illusions on offer, no ideologies or clear standards of political belief by which to measure himself.

How, then, is it possible to believe in the transcendent or progressive power of ideas while disbelieving in authority? This is the question presented in the epigraph and featured in the title. The author hopes that, in bringing the question to bear on these subjects, he has not taken the easy way out.

 

The Author and Publisher Share an essay from this collection. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader™)

Click on the acronym to read "The Deciders."   TAPS

 

 

Contents

 

I  History as Vocation

History as Vocation

The Hitchens Effect

The Toughest Job

Graduate Economics

Noam Chomsky and Academic History

The End of Sociology?

 

II  History as Criticism

James Agee, The Anarchist Sublime

What Happened to Sex Scandals?

The San Francisco Left

A Note on Anti-Americanism

In Dreams Begin Politics
Remembering Richard Hofstadter

Personal Pragmatism

Information Junkies

 

III  History as Biography

The Big Discourse

The Deciders

No-Man’s-Land: C. Wright Mills in England

The Epigone’s Embrace

Acknowledgements
 

 

Reviewers' comments
 

zzz

 

“Like C. Wright Mills, about whom he writes frequently, John H. Summers attacks power and hypocrisy.  His essays are smart, edgy and angry.  They harbor a new talent.  May he flourish!”

—Russell Jacoby

teaches at UCLA and is the author of

The Last Intellectuals and The End of Utopia.

 

zzz

 

“To encounter a voice as grave, penetrating, and fearless as the one that emerges in this collection is genuinely exciting. Every Fury on Earth is full of sharp and original insights about contemporary American intellectual life; and even better, full of high promise.”

                                —George Scialabba

is the author of Divided Mind and What Are Intellectuals Good For?

 

zzz

 

John Summers is a welcome new voice in the chorus of American cultural criticism. If, as he says, the anarchism he favors takes illumination as its aspiration, then he has honored it with these essays of remarkable candle power. And a fury not easily deflected by the presiding enemies of the human soul.”

                               —Robert Westbrook

is the author of Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth.

 

zzz

 

“With lucidity, deft use of scholarly detail, and a keen critical eye, Every Fury on Earth maps some key coordinates of American intellectual history. The collected essays on the disciplines of history, academic labor, and especially on radical intellectuals remind us of the possibilities of the intellectual vocation. In particular, Summers shines renewed light on C. Wright Mills, combining prodigious archival work with the narrative skill of a novelist. Summers follows in the tradition of the mid-century intellectuals he covers—Richard Hofstadter, James Agee, and Mills—in purveying ideas, writers, and their social milieu to a broad public. Rather than turning inwards to academic debates, he draws scholarly research outwards. Summers represents a distinctive new intellectual voice re-evaluating what is living and what is dead in the American tradition of radical thought.”

—Jeffrey J. Williams

is co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism

and editor of the minnesota review.

 

zzz
 

“…. Readers will likely find themselves agreeing and arguing with Summers in equal measure as he addresses themes ranging from the history of pragmatism, anarchism, and political scandals to working conditions in the contemporary university. This collection is a fine example of engaged historical inquiry and a spirited—indeed, vehement—intellectual provocation.”

—Casey N. Blake teaches at Columbia University

 

 

The Author

 

John H. Summers is Lecturer on American Studies at Columbia University. He also teaches in the Honors Program at Boston College, where he is Visiting Scholar in the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life.


 

 

 

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