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In The Only Superpower: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism, Paul Hollander examines anti-Americanism (including the relationship between the foreign and domestic varieties), American culture (especially mass culture), the lingering political and cultural influences of the 1960s, and the controversial relationship between the realms of the personal and the political. He also revisits the part played by hatred, and especially the scapegoating impulse, in social and political conflicts. The essays range widely, from Michael Moore's political celebrity, the American love for SUVs, and getting old in America to Islamic fanaticism and the aftermath of the fall of Eastern European communist systems.
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Paul Hollander is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a center associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.Review:
Hollander is one of the few critics who seriously address how celebrity culture has deeply altered the role and function of intellectuals. He reexamines his ideas about America's adversary culture, born of the 1960s, and provides ample illustrations of its continued vitality in new forms and voices. (Jonathan Imber, Wellesley College)
In this fine collection of essays Paul Hollander continues his lifework of documenting the misperceptions and misrepresenations of ideologues and those under their influence. He shows time and again how peddlers of anti-Americanism are bent on undermining the political system whose advantages they enjoy and abuse. By juxtaposing their claims and plain facts he exposes their indifference to truth and reason. (John Kekes, author of The Art of Politics)
The distinguished Hungarian-born sociologist Paul Hollander has a uniquely Central European perspective on the foibles of American life and especially its intellectual milieu. These fast-paced essays are smart, provocative, and sometimes amusing snapshots of our wonderfully imperfect universe. (Norman Naimark, Stanford University)
Paul Hollander, one of our most distinguished political sociologists, has written a wide-ranging, personal, and trenchant set of essays about America and its adversaries, at home and abroad. With reflections on his own fascinating journey from Hungary to America, Hollander provides unique and thought-provoking perspectives. (Norman J. Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute)
I have been reading Paul Hollander for many years―often agreeing with him, sometimes disagreeing, and always profiting from his knowledge and acuity. (Paul Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism and Power and the Idealists)
In this beautifully written, understated, and powerful collection Paul Hollander brings his acute powers of observation and analysis to bear on a variety of important themes in American culture and society including the discontents of modernity, the cult of celebrities, the pervasive entertainment orientation of mass culture and the responses to global anti-Americanism and the manifestations of Islamic fanaticism. His observations illuminate recent trends and contain wise and sobering insights for the present and future of our country. (Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland, College Park)
He writes with force, clarity, and even elegance.... He is capable of taking a comparatively small phenomenon and extracting the deeper significance from it.... Paul Hollander's work is an example of the dialectic between lived experience and abstract reflection, of which all work in the humanities should―but alas, seldom does―partake. (Theodore Dalrymple, author of Our Culture, What’s Left of It City Journal)
Paul Hollander's latest book is an understated, wry, and often hilarious collection of reflections on the profound link between anti-Americanism and the delusions and desires stirred up by modernity. Hollander's book is rich in fact and vivid, direct observation; a sociologist by profession, he practices something close to the nineteenth-century Tocquevillean variety of the discipline and eschews the abstruse theory, do-gooding mawkishness, and quantitative pedantry that plague his field and academe at large. The Only Superpower contains many delights of this cringe-inducing variety; Hollander is a master at unveiling lame vanity, the psychologically dirty and suspect. . . . Hollander's book is an important reminder in a time when not just the intellectual but the ordinary American seems to cleave ever more dangerously to a presumptous desire for change and progress, which (so it is hoped) will obscure the fundamental limitations and shortcomings of life itself. (The New Criterion 2009-11-01)
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