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DanAllosso

DanAllosso

Currently reading

400 Years Of Freethought
Samuel Porter Putnam
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Jon Meacham
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version
Philip Pullman, Jacob Grimm
Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson
Jennifer Michael Hecht
The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America
Paul E. Johnson, Sean Wilentz

Books That Changed Our Minds (Essay index reprint series)

Books That Changed Our Minds - Malcolm Cowley This book, dedicated to Charles Beard, consists of a series of essays on authors or books deemed especially influential by American intellectuals responding to a New Republic inquiry. While it does not provide first-hand information about the books that influenced regular people (or even women, since all the respondents were apparently male), many of the people they polled had written books that did influence large groups of Americans. Carl Becker, for instance, nominated Sumner’s Folkways, “which impressed me with the relativity of custom and ideas,” and Vaihinger’s As If, which “confirmed me in the notion that social thinking is shaped by certain unexamined preconceptions current at the time.” (quoting Becker’s letter, 6) Beard said “Brooks Adams’s two books are thumping,” which the editors took to mean The Law of Civilization and Decay and Theory of Social Revolutions. Both Becker and Beard recommended Croce’s History, Its Theory and Practice.Beard himself was the second-most widely recommended author, just behind Thorstein Veblen (really!), and An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution and The Theory of the Leisure Class got an equal number of votes. Authors popular with the surveyed intellectuals for the body of their work rather than a particular title included Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, George Bernard Shaw, Emerson, and Thoreau. Autobiographies included Henry Adams’, Theodore Dreiser’s, Joseph Freeman’s, Robert M. La Follette’s, and The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, which is called “the key book of the depression...[that] came at exactly the right moment.” (12)