America's Bachelor Uncle: Thoreau and the American Polity by Bob Pepperman Taylor, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
America's Bachelor Uncle: Thoreau and the American Polity

America's Bachelor Uncle: Thoreau and the American Polity

by Bob Pepperman Taylor
     
 

Emphatically revisionist, Bob Pepperman Taylor reveals a Thoreau most people never knew existed. Contrary to conventional views, Taylor argues that Thoreau was one of America's most powerful and least understood political thinkers, a man who promoted community and democratic values, while being ever vigilant against the evils of excessive or illegitimate authority.

Overview

Emphatically revisionist, Bob Pepperman Taylor reveals a Thoreau most people never knew existed. Contrary to conventional views, Taylor argues that Thoreau was one of America's most powerful and least understood political thinkers, a man who promoted community and democratic values, while being ever vigilant against the evils of excessive or illegitimate authority.

Still widely viewed as a remarkable nature writer but simplistic philosopher with no real understanding of society, Thoreau is resurrected here as a profound social critic with more on his mind than utopian daydreams. Rather than the aloof and very private individualist spurned by conservatives and championed by radicals and environmentalists, Taylor portrays Thoreau as a genuinely engaged political theorist concerned with the moral foundations of public life. Like a solicitous "bachelor uncle" (a self-referential phrase from his journals), Thoreau persistently prodded his fellow citizens to remember that they were responsible for independently evaluating the behavior of their government and political community.

Taylor contends that, far from being confined to a few political essays ("Civil Disobedience," "Slavery in Massachusetts," and "A Plea for Captain John Brown"), Thoreau's political critique was a lifetime project that informed virtually all of his work. Taylor's persuasive study should send readers back to Walden, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, and the 14-volume Journal, among many other writings, for a provocative new look at one of America's most influential writers.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For those who think they knew the political thought and social significance of Concord's solitary wanderer, think again! Taylor, who addressed Thoreau's contribution to American environmentalism in Our Limits Transgressed: Environmental Political Thought in America (Univ. Pr. of Kentucky, 1992), offers a comprehensive and compelling portrait of Thoreau, the political and social critic. According to Taylor, "Thoreau is one of America's most powerful and least understood critics and political thinkers." Arguing that Thoreau's potency resides in his call for individuals to overcome their political passivity and perform their necessary and proper role of citizen-critics, Taylor effectively rescues Thoreau from the dustbin of American intellectual and political history. A passive public and a slumbering scholarly community should take notice of Taylor's treatment of Thoreau. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Stephen Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, Id.
Booknews
Argues that Thoreau was one of America's most powerful and least understood political thinkers. Rather than the aloof and very private individualist spurned by conservatives and championed by radicals and environmentalists, Taylor portrays Thoreau as a genuinely engaged political theorist concerned with the moral foundations of public life. Taylor contends that far from being confined to a few political essays, Thoreau's political critique was a lifetime project that informed virtually all of his work. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700608065
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Series:
American Political Thought Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.21(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.84(d)

What People are saying about this

Ellis
This lucid and engaging reinterpretation of Thoreau's political thought is at once bold and nuanced. The book gives us a fresh appreciation for Thoreau's importance as a political theorist and critic without ignoring or slighting Thoreau's troubling limitations.
—Richard Ellis, author of Presidential Lightning Rods: The Politics of Blame Avoidance
Robert Booth Fowler
At last, an account that takes Thoreau seriously as a political thinker and makes an unconventional but persuasive case that Thoreau was deeply concerned with our political community: its citizens, its values and institutions, and its future. This is a fascinating book that is easy to recommend.
—Robert Booth Fowler, author of The Dance with Community: The Contemporary Debate in American Political Thought

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