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won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, but it gives off an aura of dense, scholarly writing, it's now fifty years out of date, and the title suggests more of a self-defensive justification than a deep investigation.But Laniel has repeatedly mentioned that it's one of the best non-fiction books he's read, which convinced me to give it a try.
One of its remarkable properties is how, despite that, it is very applicable to current debates and frequently compares favorably to contemporary commentary.
This is neither precisely a history nor precisely a persuasive or argumentative book; rather, it's a wide-ranging general discussion of the topic with a loose chronological presentation.
Hofstadter will occasionally provide a historical study, and will occasionally make an extended argument on some point of interest (such as the chapter devoted to discussing the educational theories and arguments of John Dewey).
Christian preachers in such communities reduced the intellectual components of the religion to appeal to their audience, but also raised the available knowledge and education compared to what was otherwise available.
This is the first of many places where Hofstadter analyzes the tension between American egalitarianism and American respect for knowledge and intellectual pursuits.