American Inquisitors / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.50
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 85%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $4.50   
  • New (6) from $29.16   
  • Used (6) from $4.50   


American Inquisitors is one of the small gems among Walter Lippmann's larger books. Written in response to the trials of John Scopes and William McAndrew in 1925 and 1927, this volume contains a succinct analysis of a basic problem of democracy: the conflict between intellectual freedom and majority rule. In both cases, the state, acting in the name of popular sovereignty, sought to suppress teaching that was contrary to the tenets of religious fundamentalism and patriotic tradition. In distilling the arguments surrounding both trials, Lippmann sounds a warning against the tyranny of the majority and challenges people to rethink their theories of liberty and democracy.

American Inquisitors consists of five related dialogues, each exploring a different dilemma at the heart of democratic political theory. The first two establish the principles of majority rule and freedom of the mind in the persons of William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Jefferson, with Socrates urging a reexamination of all principles..These dialogues debate the will and the rational capacity of the people to rule and demonstrate the relative nature of freedom in democratic society.

The third and fourth dialogues set a fundamentalist against a modernist and an Americanist against a scholar. Lippmann resists easy stereotyping and puts challenging insights and plausible arguments into the mouths of all the parties. These dialogues ask whether commitment to community comes before intellectual inquiry, 'or whether the search for truth precedes identity. The final dialogue, between Socrates and a conscientious teacher, attempts to define the mission of teaching and determine when and how to face the consequences of truth. Lippmann concludes that the program of liberty is to deprive the sovereign of absolute and arbitrary rule. Taken as a whole, the dialogues constitute an essential consistency within Lippmann's political thought, and delineate a recurring problem hi American politcal culture. American Inquisitors will be of special interest to political scientists, historians, sociologists, and American studies specialists.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560006350
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was the author of many books on political thought and was widely considered America’s most distinguished syndicated columnist. In addition to being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he won two Pulitzer Prizes for his newspaper column “Today and Tomorrow,” which appeared in the New YorkHerald Tribune. Ron Christenson is professor of political science at Gustavus Adolphus College. He is the author of Political Trials: Gordian Knots in the Law and editor of Political Trials in History, both available from Transaction.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)