The Twilight of the Intellectuals: Culture and Politics in the Era of the Cold War

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9781566632225: The Twilight of the Intellectuals: Culture and Politics in the Era of the Cold War

In these provocative and engaging writings, Mr. Kramer explores, in effect, the intellectual history of the cold war and its divisive impact on our politics and culture. Tracing the critical debate over communism and modernism, he surveys the writers who were in the forefront of that debate and the issues that animated their criticism and controversies. An honest, unsparing, and often devastating analysis. —Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author:

Hilton Kramer is editor of The New Criterion and author of The Age of the Avant-Garde and The Revenge of the Philistines. He is also art critic of the New York Observer.

From Kirkus Reviews:

An honest, unsparing, and often devastating analysis of how the intellectuals of the leftand for much of the last 70 years the term `intellectual' was almost synonymous with the leftdealt with the supreme moral conflict of our times, that between communism and democracy. Kramer (The Revenge of the Philistines: Art and Culture 19721984, 1985), editor of the New Criterion, calls the Cold War ``as much a war of ideas as it was a contest for military superiority'' and writes bluntly that ``many talented people in the West . . . fought on the side of the political enemy.'' The evidence is presented in a series of essays written over the last 25 years, mostly dealing with individuals, of whom the Americans cause him the greatest anguish: those, for example, who condemned Whittaker Chambers, who at great personal cost revealed the part he had played in a Communist spy ring, rather than Alger Hiss, who in the face of increasingly incontrovertible evidence denied any role; the left in Hollywood, epitomized by John Huston, in Hollywood on Trial, who averred that in 1946 ``Winston Churchill drew an iron curtain across Eastern Europe''; the radicals of the '60s who likened Amerika to Nazi Germany; Mary McCarthy, who in Hanoi praised the virtuous tyranny of the regime and castigated both the American prisoners-of-war and America itself; and George Steiner, who attacked Solzhenitsyn for the moral indecency of implying that Soviet terror was as hideous as Hitlerism. Kramer does not, however, adduce evidence in this book for his much more far-reaching assertion that, as an intellectual tradition, liberalism is bankrupt and that it has surrendered to socialist ideology. Nor does he do much to link the decline in the fortunes of Marxism with that of modernism, his other theme. The Cold War was a war, and Kramer is scarred, but few fought it with more honor, consistency, and moral passion. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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