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Paperback The American Century: Varieties of Culture in Modern Times Book

ISBN: 006092876X

ISBN13: 9780060928766

The American Century: Varieties of Culture in Modern Times

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Good

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Book Overview

Twentieth-century culture from Mao to McLuhan, The Rite of Spring to The Right Stuff, Freud to Frank Lloyd Wright, Eliot to Elvis, Marxism to modernism. This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

1 rating

Amazingly broad and detailed; falls short on science

First, I enjoyed the book a great deal. It was incredibly thought-provoking and stimulating. Therefore, whatever its shortcomings, it is truly an impressive achievement and a remarkable tour de force. My complaint is that the author appears seriously misinformed on some of the scientific subjects about which he writes. Granted, Cantor is not a natural scientist, and the book is not primarily about science. Still, what he chooses to include about chemistry and physics ought to be correct. For example (p. 19), Cantor is completely mistaken about the role of the periodic table in modern chemistry (or, as he would have it, the lack of a role); he even gives the wrong date for its discovery (no later than 1869, not 1890 as stated). I can be less categorical about a quotation of Einstein's purporting to show that Einstein knew his theory of relativity was akin to philosophical relativism; however, based on the content and date of the quote (1928) and on my knowledge that relativity retains the principle of causality, I think the quote is much more likely to be about quantum mechanics, about which Einstein (as Cantor notes) had serious misgivings. Rather than belabor examples, I'll close by stating that these errors undermined the book's authority in my eyes. Granted, a book as opinionated as this generates a healthy skepticism in any critical reader: that is part of the book's attraction and, I assume, part of the author's intent. But by writing inaccurately about matters I know about (I am a chemist), Cantor makes me wonder which, if any, of the other subjects reflect similar misinformation.
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