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Title:  Every Fury on Earth Author:  John H. Summers A PenMark Press Book soft cover 202 pp. USD 20.00 ISBN 978-1934542071 September  2008 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. 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 “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.    “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 author of Divided Mind and What Are Intellectuals Good For? 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 author of Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth.    “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 co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism  and editor of the minnesota review. “…. 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 About 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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