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For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 31. August 1999


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Produktinformation

  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 256 Seiten
  • Verlag: Knopf; Auflage: 1st (31. August 1999)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0375407081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375407086
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 19,8 x 13,3 x 2,7 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.3 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (61 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 762.439 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Produktbeschreibungen

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Jedediah Purdy is only in his mid-20s, but there are times when, working your way through Purdy's precisely crafted sentences, you would swear that the author is an old man. The problem with the world today, Purdy says, is that too many of us have withdrawn from it. "Often it begins in ironic avoidance," he writes, "the studied refusal to trust or hope openly. Elsewhere it comes from reckless credulity, the embrace of a tissue of illusions bound together by untested hope." He urges a revitalization of the notion of public responsibility, "the active preservation of things that we must hold in common or, eventually, lose altogether." Purdy is well aware that politics, the most visible of the public arenas, is nowadays regarded as a training ground for opportunists and hypocrites. But he insists that if we invest our lives with a dignity rooted in "the harmony of commitment, knowledge, and work," even politics might be restored.

For Common Things is quick to make pronouncements along the lines of "Today's young people are adept with phrases that reduce personality to symptoms," without mentioning that it was their therapy-happy baby boomer parents who introduced words like passive-aggressive and repressed into their vocabulary--and without broaching the possibility that it was the combined failure of the '60s counterculture movement and the loss of faith in government attendant to the Watergate scandal that nurtured cynicism and ironic detachment within the boomers. (Well, perhaps solving the problem is more important than assigning the blame.) At times, the Harvard-educated author's erudition gets the best of him, and his prose takes on a certain academic stiffness. (One wonders, at such moments, if perhaps the book has its roots in a senior thesis.) But when Purdy focuses on personal matters related to his homeschooled West Virginia upbringing, one can detect traces of a passion and intensity that would be well worth developing in future writings. Which is not to say that Purdy doesn't feel strongly about the restoration of civic commitment; this book stands as proof that he does. But anybody can--and many people do--make impersonal assessments of the state of the world; there is a story, however, that only Jedediah Purdy can tell us about community and responsibility. The traces of that story in For Common Things may leave many readers clamoring for more details. --Ron Hogan

Pressestimmen

"Beautifully written, erudite, unpretentious and, most of all, earnest."--Newsday

"Purdy deserves high praise for vindicating the belief that civic engagement can still be meaningful, important and authentic."--Boston Book Review

"The kind of book one finds recommending unreservedly to friends, colleagues, and neighbors."--The Christian Science Monitor


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Kundenrezensionen

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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von A better man, now am 19. Juni 2000
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
One has to wonder what the motivation behind critisims of this book, posted here, such as, "If you want the Truth, listen to Rush Limbaugh--the voice of America. Purdy is the voice of the liberal elite" , " I'm sick of Socialist slime like Purdy", "pious, over-privileged brat" , "Rousseau was an idiot. " , and "An Elitist Diatribe." I enjoyed the book very much, for many of the reasons listed by reviewers elsewhere, and felt somewhat validated by the intense negative reviews. I couldn't help thinking it was driven by an ignorant, anti-"Ivy league," bitterness against someone who, God-forbid, went to Harvard and Yale. One reviewer said as much, listing as a complaint against the author, simply "Jedediah has lived in dorms at Harvard and Yale."
Read the book. I made me a better person. What more can I say.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Ein Kunde am 2. Mai 2000
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
....It's high time we started judging serious books not on whetherthey're saying something "new," but on whether they'resaying something true, and saying it well. I agree that there'sprobably no idea in this book that hasn't been expressed by others before; but Purdy didn't claim that there was. He cites his sources gratefully. (By the way, one reviewer here claims that Purdy cribbed all his ideas from Rousseau. Did this guy even read what Purdy says about Rousseau? Purdy's real hero is Montaigne, as he himself makes clear.)
....Purdy is spouting discredited socialist ideas? -- Give me a break. Just look at what Purdy says about Marx and about the failure of Communism. He's an anti-radical who claims that politics can never eradicate evil. Critics who call him a "socialist" are just using this as Limbaughspeak for "Democrat." Yeah, sure, his sympathies are with the Democrats more than with the Republicans. But this is not a partisan book. The target of his arguments is not intelligent Republicanism, but apolitical apathy. When he speaks with some favor about a policy idea that could be termed vaguely socialist -- a carbon tax -- he then turns around and says that government rules can never be enough.
I have yet to see a critic who says something smart about Purdy's central claim: we have a responsibility for maintaining the "common things" -- the moral, political and natural "ecologies" -- because we depend on these things to sustain the things we love. If you disagree with Purdy, explain what's wrong with this claim and with his arguments for this claim....
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Ein Kunde am 6. April 2000
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Of course many people are rubbed the wrong way by this book -- it goes against the grain of our times. We're all supposed to be fast-paced, sarcastic, and, well, ironic. So when a book comes along that is literate, even poetic (OK, sometimes a tad pompous!), sensitive, and earnest, a lot of people will rant against it. But the fact is that Purdy points out some real problems in American life, and articulates an honest vision. Sure, his vision is debatable -- but let's debate it, not make ad hominem attacks and dismiss it with the very irony that it so intelligently critiques. I find this promising writer's work encouraging and thought-provoking.
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This is a very intriguing book, especially impressive given the age of its author. He correctly identifies a growing problem in our society; the disengagement of many from public life. He finds the main culprit to be "ironic detachment," the result of disillusionment with the failure of politics to deliver on its promises in recent decades.
While I agree that the ironic attitude, along with its cousins cynicism, skepticism and disillusionment regarding politics and public life generally have become widespread in recent decades, I believe these are effects, not causes of the problem. The cause has been the steady and inexorable growth of government, which has been and must always be accompanied by encroachment into the realm of civil society. While the latter relies on voluntary cooperation in dealing with the problems of society, the former relies on coercion. George Washington warned us about placing too much trust in government: "it is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force," and "it is, like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
It is easy to understand why many have chosen to disengage themselves from a political process that has become increasingly agressive in seizing resources by force and redistributing them as it sees fit, not incidentally keeping a large portion of the booty for itself. If you were in a grocery store checkout line and discovered that the local approved payment method was for shoppers in line to vote on who should pay for their groceries, would you shop there often? As more and more areas of our lives become politicized, the incentives to withdraw become greater.
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Von John Dolan am 16. Februar 2000
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Jedediah Purdy is something Jefferson could never have foreseen: an oligarch in peasant's clothing, the son of upper-class hippies who moved to West Virginia in 1974, just in time to give birth to Jed, whom they bred as a weapon. They knew if their boy-weapon was to be effective, it couldn't be born in their native haunts--Beacon Hill, New Haven, Martha's Vineyard--so they sped south to the deepest, most wretched corner of Appalachia as this bucolic Damien's hour approached. Jed's mother was probably barking like a seal in her tenth hour of labor when their VW van zoomed through Trenton on the Interstate, with her hirsute spouse screaming at her, "God damn it, maintain! Maintain! You want the little brat to be born in New Jersey, for Christ's sake?"
And Jed's mom, Spartan woman, clenched her teeth and legs and relaxed only when the van screeched over the river into West Virginia; then Jed came forth in a stream of long-pent folly and lies. They named the boy "Jedediah" so that it would be clear he was a son of the hard West Virginia earth, a real son of toil. Which of course he isn't. He is a poorly-constructed golem, magicked of dirtclods and coal tailings to fight his parents' lost battle. They raised the creature on a farm, no doubt purchased with the dividends of their discreet trust funds, and began pursuing their quaint, economically absurd agriculture: Ivy-League oligarchs plowing with horses and giving every goat a quaint name before they home-butchered it.
They raised Jedediah without TV, without movies, without pop music--without a single link to the glorious cascade of our culture in its finest years. And he's proud of it!
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