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"One of the great pleasures of reading George Cotkin's brilliant study Existential America is that it explains why existentialism has proved so deeply appealing and enduring in an American context."

"Lively and readable... A fine survey of existential 'notions' in America, from the 1600s to the 1970s, when various new forms of French thought became more fashionable. It is quite discerning in the way it separates the various strands of the actual movement known as existentialism and locates its antecedents in various early American authors."

"Entertaining, insightful cultural history... Cotkin's welcome addition to this picture [of the history of existentialism] is to recognize, as too few ever have, America's participation in existentialism and special contribution to it."

"Cotkin excels... in tracing the reception, in these optimistic, practical, can-do United States, of those European ideas and art forms that have mounted a challenge to our received world view."

"An involving and cogent discussion... Cotkin's intellectual history will engage any American who remembers identifying with Camus's The Stranger as an adolescent, as well as offering students a compelling theory of American culture."

"In Existential America, intellectual historian George Cotkin proves existentialism's relevance by showing that it was never just a fad; existential sensibilities run deep in our history. Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus, who all toured the United States after the war, saw only the country's exterior, its consumerist boosterism. But would it be so surprising if the land of the free were also the land of the searching, the anxious, the alienated? This is, after all, the country of Herman Melville and Edward Hopper... Along the way [Cotkin] drops fascinating anecdotes about how existentialism touched everyone from FDR to MLK, from Whittaker Chambers to Betty Friedan... An engrossing, readable account of a major current in our cultural history."

"A useful reference volume for students of philosophy and American culture."

"A timely and compelling account of America's engagement with, and involvement in, what might otherwise be seen as a quintessentially European conversation."

"No other book engages existentialism in America so broadly or seeks to make it so central to American intellectual life."

"Cotkin... makes the unusual argument that existentialism, despite its reputation as quintessentially French, was an equally American phenomenon... Cotkin does a good job showing how much the French thinkers' ideas resonated among prominent Americans."

"Cotkin is at his best in tracing the recognition of the dark side of the human soul that characterizes the best of American literature in Hawthorne, Melville, Poe, Dickinson, and others."

"This sweeping survey traces the genealogy of existential philosophy in the United States."

"As a richly detailed account of the reception of existentialism in America, this book is unequaled. But it is more than the history of a particular philosophical movement. Cotkin explores the independent expressions of what he calls 'the Existentialist mood' in the work of Americans anticipating or paralleling the thought of European writers. Impeccable in its scholarship, Existential America is also a delight to read. The writing is lively and engaging and reveals, where appropriate, its author's ironic sense of humor."

"George Cotkin's Existential America is an outstanding new work. It is original in the best sense of the word, for no one has before examined how existentialism was received in the United States. The book is also compelling in its wide-ranging treatment of the academic accommodation of Sartre and the appropriation of his ideas by writers and artists."

"An excellent book by virtue of its breadth of approach. The author has aspired to do far more than write the history of existentialism in America. He uses the subject of existentialism, important enough in its own right, to give a fresh synthesis of much of American intellectual life in the second half of the twentieth century."

Existential America
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2005
Status: Available
Usually ships 3-5 business days after receipt of order.
Trim Size: 6.125" x 9.25"
Page Count: 368 pages
Illustrations: 17 halftones, 1 line drawing
ISBN: 9780801882005