Imagining a Great Republic

Imagining a Great Republic

Rowman & Littlefield | English | 2018 | ISBN-10: 1538105713 | 468 Pages | PDF | 3.23 mb
by Thomas E. Cronin (Author)

In the first comprehensive reading of dozens of American literary and social culture classics, Tom Cronin, one of America's most astute students of the American political tradition, tells the story of the American political experiment through the eyes of forty major novelists, from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Hunter S. Thompson. They have been moral and civic consciousness-raisers as we have navigated the zigs and zags, the successes and setbacks, and the slow awkward evolution of the American political experiment.

Constitutional democracy, equal justice for all, the American Dream, and American Exceptionalism are all part of our country's narrative. But, as Imagining a Great Republic explains, there has never been just a single American narrative-we have competing stories, just as we have competing American Dreams and competing ways of imagining a more perfect political union. Recognizing and understanding these competing values is a key part of being American. Cronin's book explains how this is possible and why we should all be proud to be American.

"Tom Cronin writes with panache and much insight about heroes of mine like Steinbeck, Roth, Morrison, Heller, Abbey, Harper Lee, Howard Fast, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Nathanael West. With a lineup like this, you pretty much can't go wrong - and Cronin doesn't." (John Nichols, writer and novelist)

"When American political reality is confounding - like, say, today - there can be enlightenment in fiction. Tom Cronin's smart, engaging, expansive tour of political novels turns out to be timely in ways he couldn't have foreseen. The novels explored in Imagining a Great Republic - from classics such as Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to less well-known works such as Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona ĘC take us back to basics: The aspirations from our founding and the challenges we've faced in trying to achieve them. Political novelists tend to be optimists, he notes, but ones with a sharp understanding that our fragile democratic experiment is constantly being tested - by slavery, by corruption, by dogma, by would-be despots. Cronin shows how storytellers long have served to remind us of what America is, and what we want it to be. That's a good thing to remember these days." (Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today)

"Who would have guessed that this distinguished scholar of politics and the presidency also possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of American political novels, or that he could write about them with such sympathy and insight, no matter what their point of view? Tom Cronin's latest book is a revelation regarding the role of literature in imagining, and shaping, our republic." (Vincent Carroll, former editor, The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News)

"The United States has always been more an idea than a place, an in Imagining a Great Republic, Thomas Cronin unpacks the many paradoxes, contrasts and conflicts that comprise what it means to be "American." Using the political novel as his guide, Cronin navigates the varying interpretations of the American Dream as imagined by idealists and pragmatists, democrats and autocrats, freedom-seekers and equality-demanders, always sensitive to the nuances of context as well as the clashes of aspirations. This magisterial work is indispensable for understanding who we are as well as who we might yet become." (Michael A. Genovese, President, Global Policy Institute, Loyola Marymount University)

About the Author
Tom Cronin (Stanford University, PhD) is McHugh Professor of American Institutions and Leadership at Colorado College. He is President Emeritus of Whitman College (1993-2005) and served as Acting President at Colorado College (1991). He has served as President of the Presidency Research Group, and President of the Western Political Science Association, and on the Executive Council of the American Political Science Association. He has authored and co-authored best-selling text-books on American government and the American presidency. He has won several awards for teaching, advising and for his research, including the American Political Science Association's Charles E. Merriam Award for significant contributions to the art of government, and Best Leadership Book Award of 2013.

His latest books are Leadership Matters: Unleashing the Power of Paradox (Paradigm Publishers, 2012); Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State, co-authored with Robert D. Loevy (University of Nebraska Press, 2012); and The Paradoxes of the American Presidency, 5th edition, co-authored with Michael A. Genovese (Oxford University Press, 2017).

He has published many articles in major political science and public policy journals, as well as in Science, Saturday Review, The New York Times Magazine, TV Guide, and The Daily Beast. He writes regular feature essays for The Denver Post


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