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"...scrupulous, fair-minded and richly-detailed study...the book charts one of the most remarkable intellectual careers of the 20th century's latter half...What is most heartening about Mr. Alexander's biography is its exemplary civility and nuance in discussing ideas across the lines of political difference." -Nathan Glick, Washington Times "Anyone interested in Howe's varied career, and the historical context that has given it its particular shape-American radicalism, the Cold War and anticommunism, the New Left, literary modernism, Jewish life-will profit handsomely from reading Alexander's respectful book." -Wilson Quarterly "Edward Alexander's captivating study of Irving Howe is illuminating and scrupulous; it is also temperate, generous, and deeply fair-minded. If Howe were alive, he would thank the author-and even now, in Paradise, he is surely doing so (while hotly continuing the discussion)."-Cynthia Ozick "...a singular achievement." -Jerusalem Post "...a masterpiece" -National Jewish Post and Opinion "...meticulous scholarship, felicitous writing style and a literate feistiness." -Chicago Jewish Star "An excellent work of insight and criticism, recommended for academic libraries." -Library Journal "An insightful, balanced contribution..." -Booklist "Edward Alexander's estimable intellectual biography...studiously avoids both undue sentimentality and overly harsh censure." -Sanford Pinsker, Philadelphia Inquirer "Edward Alexander's well-informed and engaging portrait of Irving Howe does full justice to the complexities of mind and the political passions of one of this country's leading intellectuals. This bracing, perceptive study honors Howe's admirable career by treating it with the same high degree of moral seriousness that characterized Howe's own work at its best." -Alvin H. Rosenfeld Irving Howe, author of World of Our Fathers, the prize-winning history of American Jewish immigrant culture, and founding editor of the influential magazine Dissent, was for over 50 years a dominant-and controversial-figure in American intellectual life. Through a clear and eloquent study of Howe's politics, writings, and thought, Edward Alexander constructs a sympathetic yet critical intellectual biography of this complex individual.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780253333643
ISBN-10: 0253333644
Format: Hardback
(5969mm x 3963mm x 29mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Indiana University Press
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publish Date: 22-Apr-1998
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » A detailed and dogmatic intellectual biography of one of the leading American literary critics, political journalists, polemicists, and Jewish intellectuals of the past 50 years. Alexander (English/Univ. of Washington) seems to have read everything Howe (1920 - 93) wrote. His tripartite division of Howe's work (per the subtitle) is useful, though it would have been better had he proceeded strictly thematically, rather than using a chronological approach and shuttling back and forth among his categories. Alexander is most interesting and insightful on Howe as critic, tracing the influence of such intellectual precursors as Matthew Arnold, George Orwell, and Edmund Wilson on Howe's thinking and writing. Alexander traces Howe's political evolution from antiwar Trotskyist polemicist in the early 1940s to a much more nuanced social democrat who cofounded Dissent in 1954 and battled the New Left during the late 1960s and early '70s. Unfortunately, Alexander's analysis of Howe's political views too often is tendentious or otherwise rhetorically overcharged. Alexander praises Howe's Jewish commitments, particularly the six anthologies on which he collaborated with the American Yiddish journalist Eliezer Greenberg, though he has some justifiable reservations about the exclusion of a discussion of synagogue and other religious life among Lower East Side immigrants in World of Our Fathers. But when it comes to Howe's writings on Israel, particularly his pro - Peace Now pieces from 1979 until his death, Alexander waxes hysterical. He makes the untenable charge that Howe became involved in "anti-Israeli American Jewish politics" - untenable unless all critiques of Israeli policies are deemed "anti-Israeli." In Alexander, Howe has found as rigorous, and sometimes sardonic, a biographer as he himself was a writer. But he also deserved someone far more attuned to all the dimensions of his life and his political commitments. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Edward Alexander

Edward Alexander is Professor of English at the University of Washington. His books include Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, and the Modern Temper; The Resonance of Dust: Essays on Holocaust Literature and Jewish Fate; Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Study of the Short Fiction; and The Holocaust and the War of Ideas.

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