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Just one more species doing its best

Richard Rorty, 25 July 1991

The Later Works 1925-1953. Vol. XVII: Miscellaneous Writings, 1885-1953 
by John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann Boydston.
Southern Illinois, 786 pp., $50, August 1990, 0 8093 1661 7
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by J.E. Tiles.
Routledge, 256 pp., £35, December 1988, 0 415 00908 1
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John Dewey and American Democracy 
by Robert Westbrook.
Cornell, 608 pp., $32.95, May 1991, 0 8014 2560 3
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Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank and Lewis Mumford 
by Casey Blake.
North Carolina, 370 pp., $38.45, November 1990, 0 8078 1935 2
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... is, I think, due to the feeling that this transatlantic bumptiousness and optimism is absurd. Westbrook uses Dewey’s suggestions about ways to expand the sphere of democratic decision-making, his need to sketch ever-widening democratic vistas, as the guiding thread of his intellectual biography of Dewey. It is a good choice, and the result is by far the ...

No snarling

Fatema Ahmed: P.G. Wodehouse, 3 November 2005

by Joseph Connolly.
Haus, 192 pp., £9.99, September 2004, 1 904341 68 3
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Wodehouse: A Life 
by Robert McCrum.
Penguin, 542 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 14 100048 1
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... of two and lived with a succession of relatives; at the age of five he went to boarding-school. Robert McCrum calculates that ‘in total, Wodehouse saw his parents for barely six months between the ages of three and 15.’ After he left Dulwich College, to which he remained deeply attached for the rest of his life, his father got him a job at the Hong Kong ...


Thomas Sugrue: Civil Rights v. Black Power, 5 October 2006

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice 
by Raymond Arsenault.
Oxford, 690 pp., £19.99, March 2006, 0 19 513674 8
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... deprecation of the Riders’ motives and efficacy was not just a Southern conceit. New York-based Westbrook Pegler, the country’s leading conservative columnist, denounced them as ‘bands of insipid futilities of the type called bleeding hearts’ and ‘negative weaklings’. Even mainstream liberal opinion aligned against the Rides. The respected TV ...

Something to Steer by

Richard Rorty, 20 June 1996

John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism 
by Alan Ryan.
Norton, 414 pp., $30, May 1995, 0 393 03773 8
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... thinker and activist, and so this religious side of his thought often gets overlooked. Even Robert Westbrook’s splendid John Dewey and American Democracy slighted it. The enthusiastic welcome which that book deservedly received, when it was published in 1991, had the unfortunate effect of causing an equally good book, which emphasised this ...

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