In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S. I. Hayakawa

In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S. I. Hayakawa

by Gerald W. Haslam, Janice E. Haslam
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


One of the most gripping images from the 1960s captures the slight figure of Dr. S. I. Hayakawa scrambling onto a sound truck parked in front of San Francisco State College amid campus unrest. Hayakawa had hoped to use this soapbox to address the assembled demonstrators, but instead he ended up ripping out speaker wires and halting an illegal campus demonstration&

Overview


One of the most gripping images from the 1960s captures the slight figure of Dr. S. I. Hayakawa scrambling onto a sound truck parked in front of San Francisco State College amid campus unrest. Hayakawa had hoped to use this soapbox to address the assembled demonstrators, but instead he ended up ripping out speaker wires and halting an illegal campus demonstration—or denying first-amendment rights to the crowd, depending on your perspective. Indeed, Hayakawa’s entire life defies simplistic labels, and his ability to be categorized largely depends on personal perspective.

This intimate and detailed biography draws on interviews with friends and family members, as well as Hayakawa’s own papers and journals, to bring this controversial and fascinating figure to life. He was an enigma to colleagues as well as adversaries, a Republican senator who consistently bucked his party’s ideals with his support of the women’s movement, abortion rights, and even Ronald Reagan’s search for a female running mate. The son of Japanese immigrants, born and raised in Canada before moving to the United States, Hayakawa emerges here as a complex and complicated figure. His blend of heritage, politics, artistic inclination, and intellectual achievement makes him quintessentially American.

Visit the author's Web site for bibliographic notes.

Editorial Reviews

Rafu Shimpo

"This intimate and detailed biography draws on interviews with friends and family members, as well as Hayakawa's own papers and journals, to bring this controversial and fascinating figure to life."—Rafu Shimpo
Jonah Raskin

In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S. I. Hayakawa traces the fascinating life of an iconic American writer, teacher, politician, and family man. In the process, authors Gerald W. Haslam and Janice E. Haslam tell us a lot about the culture wars of the 20th century—and of American identity itself. The authors’ many fans will be delighted by this definitive biography, as will students, scholars, and teachers of ethnic studies, California history, and American politics.”—Jonah Raskin, author of American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and the Making of the Beat Generation
Clark S. Sturges
“Gerald and Janice Haslam are the perfect writers for this complete and superbly researched biography of S.I. Hayakawa, the teacher, poet, scholar, writer, flamboyant college president and Senator from California, who was always seeking more, not just for fame but for other, more personal reasons. Only the Haslams, with their unique perspectives, could know and tell this story.”—Clark S. Sturges, author of Dr. Dave: A Profile of David E. Smith, MD, founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics
Journal of American History - W. J. Rorabaugh

"Always a pioneer, Hayakawa showed consistent fearlessness in adopting an American identity despite racism, in marrying across the color line, in pursuing general semantics, and in opposing young rebels. This excellent biography uses copious papers and numerous interviews to emphasize Hayakawa's individuality and complexity. . . . Discussing both Hayakawa's virtues and his defects, the book is thorough, readable, and sympathetic."—W. J. Rorabaugh, Journal of American History
Community Voice - Jud Snyder

"Haslam and his wife, Janice, have done a brilliant job in this timely biography."—Jud Snyder, Community Voice
Nichi Rei - Greg Robinson

"An ingenious portrait."—Greg Robinson, Nichi Rei
Kirkus Reviews
Biography of a polarizing popularizer of general semantics and one-term senator from California. Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa (1906–1992), born in Vancouver of aristocratic Japanese parents who returned to Japan when he entered college, never learned Japanese and always thought of himself as North American. He studied and taught English literature in Canada and the United States and aspired to be a modernist poet like one of his heroes, T.S. Eliot. By the time he began teaching at the University of Wisconsin in 1936, he had affected the manners and speech of an Oxford don, a self-presentation that led others to give him the nickname of Don, which would stick. Hayakawa first made his mark as the author of a manual for students of writing that came to be called Language in Thought and Action, based on the idea of general semantics formulated by Alfred Korzybski, a supposedly scientific means of analyzing the meanings of words. Always restless in mind and ambitious in spirit, Hayakawa used the magazine he founded, ETC., to muse about favorite subjects like jazz, automobile design and civil rights. His early liberalism, which made him suspect in the McCarthy years, yielded to an eccentric conservatism in the '60s, particularly in his iconic role as acting president at San Francisco State University. Haslam (English Emeritus/Sonoma State Univ.; Workin' Man Blues: Country Music in California, 1999, etc.), a student and colleague of his subject's, admits that while he thought much of the left's criticism of Hayakawa was unfair, he and the senator drifted apart politically as well as professionally. Nevertheless, the book is a promise kept to Hayakawa's wife. Haslam (with his own wife as partner) was a good choice for biographer. He clearly admired his subject but is fair (though discreet) about his flaws, including a reputation for philandering. Absorbing study of a surprising, multifaceted life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803237643
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Pages:
472
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author


Gerald W. Haslam is a professor emeritus of English at Sonoma State University and the author and editor of numerous books, including Workin’ Man Blues: Country Music in California, the novel Straight White Male, and the anthology Many Californias: Literature from the Golden State. Janice E. Haslam is the coauthor, with Gerald W. Haslam, of the fiction collection Manuel and the Madman and An Instructor's Guide to Many Californias.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >