Two different underlying assumptions form the rationale for Eric Lott’s and Stefan Collini’s books. Lott writes from a conviction that intellectuals exist in the United States and they have a duty to engage with the issues of the day. His book is a salvo across the bows of some left-liberal intellectuals whom he accuses of drifting from their new left origins to a comfortable accommodation with the status quo through which they have accumulated the spoils of academic appointments and the celebrity of Pooh-Bahs pontificating on matters of high public import. Lott draws comparisons between these baby boomers seeking a workable accommodation with American life and The Vital Center, the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s 1949 rallying point for Cold War liberals. Lott’s is a short fast-paced work that oft reads like an indictment. There is little doubt though in Lott’s...

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