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A Tolerable Anarchy

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In A Tolerable Anarchy, Jedediah Purdy traces the history of the American understanding of freedom, an ideal that has inspired the country’s best—and worst—moments, from independence and emancipation to war and economic uncertainty. Working from portraits of famous American lives, like Frederick Douglas and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Purdy asks crucial questions about our relationship to liberty: Does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? Does freedom mean following tradition, God’s word, or one’s own heart? Can a nation of individuals also be a community of citizens? This is history that speaks plainly to our lives today, urging readers to explore our understanding of our country and ourselves, and a provocative look at one of America’s cherished principles.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 22, 2008 – No term in American political discourse elicits such uncomplicated reverence as the word freedom and no concept is more complex and conflicted, argues this brilliant study. Drawing on everything from the writings of Frederick Douglass and Emerson to presidential inaugurals and Supreme Court opinions, Purdy (For Common Things), who teaches law at Duke, surveys the ways in which the ideals of individual liberty, dignity and fulfillment have made and remade America. It's a vexed and protean legacy in his wide-ranging account, one that's given us both stirring liberation movements and misbegotten wars; a doctrine of laissez-faire economics and a welfare state that shields workers from the industrial economy; an unbridled thirst for personal self-actualization amid private utopias and a dread that our lives are incoherent, isolated and socially meaningless. In scintillating prose that's erudite but straightforward and packed with insights, Purdy offers both a searching critique of America's ideology of freedom and an affirmation of the millions of small declarations of independence from hierarchy, constraint, and fear it has inspired. The result is a tour de force of engaged political philosophy from one of America's most perceptive public intellectuals.
A Tolerable Anarchy
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: Mar 03, 2009
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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