A great moralist and social thinker illuminates the most vexing issues of our time—war, old age, racism, abortion, boredom, crime and punishment, sociobiology, and seventy odd others—in a dazzling book that is by turns hilarious and somber but always vigorous and stimulating. Upon each subject Robert Nisbet offers piercing and often unexpected insights.
Joining the colorful company of Montaigne, Voltaire, Burke, and Mencken, Nisbet writes for his own age and with his own prejudices. He ranges from the historical to the contemporary, from great men to lesser ones, from pieties and wisdoms to fads and effronteries. The work, in other words, is neither philosophy nor a dictionary (except that the subject matter is arranged in alphabetical order), but the distillation of Nisbet’s wisdom, learning, and profound moral conviction. He argues for liberty over equality, for authority against permissiveness, for religion but also for science, for the individual and his rights but against individualism and entitlements. The center of his thinking is the fervent wish for a community linked by history, religion, and ritual, in which children are raised by families rather than by the state, but in which blind custom and belief are questioned and creativity emerges. Determinism of any kind he finds untrue to human nature and history. Man is free to improve himself or destroy himself.
A literary delight.
Prejudices is enormously well read and exceptionally well written, as well as unusually handsome to the eye.
This is so rich a book that it ought to lie on important desks for years. There is no political, sociological or economic subject untouched by this stiletto-sharp mind. If you have a friend whose intellect you deeply respect, this is the gift.
A provoking book: sometimes thought-provoking, some times just provoking. Reading it, one converses with Nisbet… However one regards Nisbet’s views, the value of this book is considerable.
These ideas are typical of Nisbet at his best: unconventional, playful with ideas yet serious about their consequences, probing beyond the superficial. Radicals, liberals, conservatives, apolitical lovers of the word, take note.
Robert Nisbet’s new book I thought extremely good—remarkable for its clarity and wit, as perceptive as it is intelligent, a welcome voice of reason in a debate too often given over to pedants and ideologues.
All of the qualities of mind for which Nisbet is famous are fully displayed in this marvelous book—his philosophical profundity, his mastery of history, his biting wit, his moral outrage, his uncommon sense. Nisbet’s dictionary will inevitably be compared to its Voltairean model, but I myself prefer to think of it as one of the great examples of the American jeremiad. In my library Prejudices will stand between the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and the eruptions of Mark Twain.
What a bloody wonderful book! What a perfect idea! And the perfect author! My position is that no future book should ever be written on any of the subjects touched.
- 318 pages
- Harvard University Press
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