Richard Hofstadter

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Richard Hofstadter (August 6, 1916 - October 24, 1970) was a noted American historian and professor at Columbia University. His better-known works include The Age of Reform (1955) and Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963), both of which won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915 (1944), The American Political Tradition (1948), and The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1965).

Biography

Hofstadter was born in Buffalo, New York in 1916 to a Jewish father and a German Lutheran mother, who died when he was ten. In 1933 he entered at the University of Buffalo, majoring in philosophy and minoring in history. During this time, Buffalo was suffering under the full might of the Great Depression, which strongly affected Hofstadter's political and intellectual thinking. At the university, Hofstadter became involved in left-wing politics, joining the Young Communist League and meeting a radical student named Felice Swados whom he would marry in 1936.

After graduation, Hofstadter enrolled in the graduate history program at Columbia University in New York, New York. In New York, Hofstadter became more involved in Marxist politics, joining the Communist Party in 1938 (as did many disaffected intellectuals at the time), though, in his words "I join without enthusiasm but with a sense of obligation... My fundamental reason for joining is that I don't like capitalism and want to get rid of it. I am tired of talking... The party is making a very profound contribution to the radicalization of the American people.... I prefer to go along with it now." By 1939 however he had become disenchanted with the party and began a steady decline in his participation; by the announcement of the Nazi-Soviet pact in September he was thoroughly and permanently disillusioned with the Communist Party, the Soviet Union, and Marxism itself. He did not, however, change his views on capitalism.

He died at the age of 54 from Leukemia.

Published works

  • Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania press, 1944).
  • The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1948).
  • The Age of Reform: from Bryan to F.D.R (New York: Knopf, 1955).
  • The Development of Academic Freedom in the United States (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955). (with Walter P. Metzger)
  • The United States: the History of a Republic (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,: Prentice-Hall, 1957).
  • Anti-intellectualism in American life (New York: Knopf, 1963).
  • The Progressive Movement, 1900-1915 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963).
  • The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and Other Essays (New York: Knopf, 1965).
  • The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington (New York: Knopf, 1968).
  • The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969).
  • America in 1750: A Social Portrait (1971)
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