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Stephen J. Whitfield

Stephen J. Whitfield holds the Max Richter Chair in American Civilization at Brandeis University, where he has taught since 1972. He is the author of eight books, including The Culture of the Cold War (1991, rev. and enlarged 1996) and In Search of American Jewish Culture (1999). He is also the editor of A Companion to 20th-Century America, published by Blackwell in 2004. He has served as Fulbright visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and has served twice as visiting professor at the Sorbonne.



Raise High the Bookshelves, Censors!

Spring 2002 | Criticism

The Catcher in the Rye has done strange things to people. In late 1980, Mark David Chapman stuck a copy of J.D. Salinger's book in his pocket as he stalked and then murdered John Lennon. Before the New York police arrived, the assassin began re-reading the novel to himself. Even when he was being sentenced, the defendant read aloud the passage that begins with "anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids" and ends with "I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all."

The Anatomy of Counter-Revolution

Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s. By Pete Daniel. University of North Carolina Press. $45.00 cloth, $19.95 paperback. Leander H. Perez was perhaps the most implacable and cunning of the segregationists battling against the Civil Rights M [...]

Cinéma Verité

Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage. By Stanley Cavell. Harvard. $17.50. Philosophy and the movies share an ancient origin. In the Republic, Socrates asks Glaucon to imagine human beings living in a cave, where from childhood [...]

Secession Crisis

One Nation Indivisible: How Ethnic Separatism Threatens America. By J. Harvie Wilkinson, III. Addison-Wesley. $24.00. We know we're not in Kansas anymore—at least not Dorothy's Kansas of a century ago—when school teachers face polyglot pupi [...]

The Influence of Affluence

Coca-Colonization and the Cold War: The Cultural Mission of the United States in Austria after the Second World War. By Reinhold Wagnleitner, translated by Diana M. Wolf. North Carolina. $55 cloth, $24.95 paper. "Bronx Man Leads Russian Revoluti [...]

The Liberals’ Southern Strategy

Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era. By Patricia Sullivan. University of North Carolina Press.$39.95 cloth, $17.95 paperback. When, in a pop paean to "Little Sister" (1961), Elvis Presley snarls that "she's mean and she's evil/L [...]


If You've Seen One, You've Seen the Mall: Europeans and American Mass Culture. By Rob Kroes. Illinois. $27.50 cloth, $14.95 paper. The myth of America stimulated the European imagination long before independence was formally declared and a republic [...]

The Mystique of Multiculturalism

Little more than a century ago, the Atlantic Monthly published a poem entitled "The Unguarded Gates" by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, one of those authors whom a Tammany Hall wit was fond of dismissing as "name-parted-in-the-middle aristocrats": Wide op [...]

A Critical Cicerone

American Notes: Selected Essays. By Daniel Aaron. Northeastern University Press. $2995. One of my colleagues, a Melville specialist, no longer assigns Moby-Dick in his introductory course in 19th-century American fiction. Relentless ideological pre [...]

The Cultural Cold War As History

"Without the cold war," John Updike's observant Harry Angstrom wonders in the final and most restful of the "Rabbit" novels, "what's the point of being an American?" For nearly half a century, the geopolitical contest between two superpowers cast [...]

The Stunt Man: Abbie Hoffman (1936—1989)

His father and mother, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, called him ever-so-formally Abbott Hoffman. To the otherwise staid publisher of his 1969 manifesto, Revolution for the Hell of It, his nom de plume was simply "Free"—a euphoni [...]

Stitches In Time

Selvages & Biases: The Fabric of History in American Culture. By Michael Kammen. Cornell. $24.95. Close to the month when this book was published, the National Assessment of Educational Progress imposed the inverse of "future shock" by disclosing [...]

Understanding Backward

The End of American History: Democracy, Capitalism, and the Metaphor of Two Worlds in Anglo-American Historical Writing, 1880—1980. By David W. Noble. Minnesota. $25.00 cloth, $14.95 paper. Thinking Back: The Perils of Writing History. By C. Vann [...]

The Jewish Vote

Wake Us When It's Over is the title of Jack Geymond and Jules Witcover's recent account of the Reagan landslide of 1984; but perhaps only narcoleptics could have been unaware of one of its most puzzling features—the electoral eccentricity of Ame [...]

After the Ball

Chicago's White City of 189S. By David F. Burg. Kentucky. $17.00. IN an urgent letter to his parents in 1893, Hamlin Garland told them to leave their Dakota farm and come to Chicago: "Sell the cook stove if necessary and come. You must see this fai [...]

Muckraking Lincoln Steffens

So ferocious was the reputation of the warriors who swept out of the steppes in the 13th century that the appearance of a single Mongol horseman at the gates of a city might be enough to compel its surrender. In the early 20th century, a lone jou [...]

The Man In the Ironic Mask

Henry Adams: The Myth of Failure. By William Dusinberre. Virginia. $20.00. Henry Adams. By R. P. Blackmur. Edited by Veronica A. Makowsky. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $19.95. Henry Adams and the American Experiment. By David R. Contosta. Little, Bro [...]