Modern Jeremiahs: Contemporary Visions of American Decline

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One of the most enduring themes in American political discourse is the idea of decline. Since the very beginnings of the European settlement of North America there have been voices pointing to an inevitable regression of the people from the standards set by heroic ancestors. This discourse of decay has often taken the form of the jeremiad in which public intellectuals, pundits, and politicians point to the causes of decline and call for a return to older and nobler standards of conduct. The Jeremiad has seen a revival in the last 25 years. Jendrysik traces the history of this form of political discourse from its modern reinvention by Allan Bloom to its current uses by such figures as Bill O'Reilly and Hillary Clinton.

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Editorial Reviews

James Morone
Modern Jeremiahs explores America's favorite narrative — the dire warning of terrible decline. We've been going to hell in a hand basket since the Puritans arrived. But, as Jendrysik artfully demonstrates, our tales of woe have profoundly changed — and with far reaching consequences. Elegant, engaging, infuriating, funny, insightful and highly recommended.
January 2009 CHOICE
A useful examination of the prominent themes of neoconservative social and political thought of the past several decades and an effective criticism of the dangers of this form of political thought. Recommended.
Albert W. Dzur
Modern Jeremiahs draws attention to a prominent yet puzzling fixture of contemporary political argument: the narrative of decline at a time of significant economic and military strength. While carefully rooted in the history of American political thought, this highly engaging study focuses on the appeal of such rhetoric in the last two decades among commentators on both right and left. Jendrysik invites us to look more carefully at the multiple uses of the jeremiad and ultimately at its serious limitations in prompting social change.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739121917
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 3/20/2008
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Stephen Jendrysik is chair of the department of political science and public administration at the University of North Dakota and author of Explaining the English Revolution: Hobbes and His Contemporaries.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Dedication Chapter 2 Table of Contents Chapter 3 Acknowledgements Chapter 4 1 America in Decline: An Idea Whose Time Has Always Come Chapter 5 2 The Styles of the American Jeremiah Chapter 6 3 Allan Bloom: Founding Father of the Modern Jeremiad Chapter 7 4 Culture Warriors vs. the Boomers and Bill Clinton Chapter 8 5 Bill O'Reilly and Michael Moore: Populist Jeremiahs Chapter 9 6 Nativist Jeremiahs Chapter 10 7 Jeremiah and Jihad: 9/11 and American Decline Chapter 11 8 Hillary Rodham Clinton: Ambivalent Jeremiah? Chapter 12 9 The Jeremiad and American Democracy Chapter 13 Bibliography Chapter 14 Index Chapter 15 About the Author

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