Although this book deals mainly with certain aspects of the remoter American past, it was conceived in response to the political and intellectual conditions of hte 1950's. During that decade the term anti-intellectualism, only rarely heard before, became a familiar part of our national vocabulary of self-recrimination and intramural abuse. In the past, American intellectuals were often discouraged or embittered by the national disrespect for mind, but it is hard to recall a time when large numbers of people outside the intellectual community shared their concern, or when self-criticism on this count took on the character of a nation-wide movement.
This book was awarded the 1964 Pulitzer Price in Non-Fiction. It is a book which throws light on mnay features of the American character. its concern is not merely to portray the scorners of intellect in American life, but to say something about what the intellectual is, and can be, as a force ina democratic society.