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John Dewey and American Democracy

by Robert B. Westbrook

Over a career spanning American history from the 1880s to the 1950s, John Dewey sought not only to forge a persuasive argument for his conviction that "democracy is freedom" but also to realize his democratic ideals through political activism. Widely considered modern America's most important philosopher, Dewey made his views known both through his writings and through such controversial episodes as his leadership of educational reform at the turn of the century; his support of American intervention in World War I and his leading role in the Outlawry of War movement after the war; and his participation in both radical and anti-communist politics in the 1930s and 40s. Robert B. Westbrook reconstructs the evolution of Dewey's thought and practice in this masterful intellectual biography, combining readings of his major works with an engaging account of key chapters in his activism. Westbrook pays particular attention to the impact upon Dewey of conversations and debates with contemporaries from William James and Reinhold Niebuhr to Jane Addams and Leon Trotsky. Countering prevailing interpretations of Dewey's contribution to the ideology of American liberalism, he discovers a more unorthodox Dewey--a deviant within the liberal community who was steadily radicalized by his profound faith in participatory democracy. Anyone concerned with the nature of democracy and the future of liberalism in America--including educators, moral and social philosophers, social scientists, political theorists, and intellectual and cultural historians--will find John Dewey and American Democracy indispensable reading.

Why We Fought

by Robert B. Westbrook

Why We Fought is a timely and provocative analysis that examines why Americans really chose to sacrifice and commit themselves to World War II. Unlike other depictions of the patriotic "greatest generation," Westbrook argues that, strictly speaking, Americans in World War II were not instructed to fight, work, or die for their country--above all, they were moved by private obligations. Finding political theory in places such as pin-ups of Betty Grable, he contends that more often than not Americans were urged to wage war as fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, lovers, sons, daughters, and consumers, not as citizens. The thinness of their own citizenship contrasted sharply with the thicker political culture of the Japanese, which was regarded with condescending contempt and even occasionally wistful respect.Why We Fought is a profound and skillful assessment of America's complex political beliefs and the peculiarities of its patriotism. While examining the history of American beliefs about war and citizenship, Westbrook casts a larger light on what it means to be an American, to be patriotic, and to willingly go to war.From the Trade Paperback edition.

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