Press Release: Brown, Beyond the Frontier
In 2006 David S. Brown’s Richard Hofstadter, a sweeping intellectual biography of a man and his era, was published to great acclaim— E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post called it “the most important political book of the year that’s not about politics”—and definitively established the continuing importance of Hofstadter’s work and his legacy as a leader of the Eastern intellectual establishment.
With Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing, Brown returns with a collective biography of the prominent intellectuals—including William Appleman Williams, Charles Beard, and Christopher Lasch—who publicly opposed Hofstadter and the growing interventionist consensus he represented among America’s postwar elite.
Troubled by the burgeoning military-industrial complex and what they saw as America’s reckless fomenting of the cold war, they argued strenuously for a different path: a return to an older American tradition of progressivism and reform. Only that way, they believed, could the individual freedom and self-sufficiency that historically had represented the heart of American democracy survive. And while America’s imperial ambitions clearly remain strong, Brown shows how these ideas remain potent today, animating the work of prominent figures like William Cronon and Thomas Frank.
A fascinating follow-up to Richard Hofstadter, Beyond the Frontier draws timely attention to an intellectual tradition that is currently being rediscovered by conservatives and liberals alike.
Read the press release.