This book Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch is the first biography of the best-selling author of The Culture of Narcissism and other modern American classics.
Historian and social critic Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) was an odd subject for a story in People magazine. Yet there he was, featured in a July 1979 issue, thanks to a national fascination with his latest book, The Culture of Narcissism. It was perhaps the strangest moment in the life of an unpredictable thinker who always questioned assumptions, challenged orthodoxies, and blurred neat distinctions between divergent political ideologies and cultural agendas.
Eric Miller has now written the first book-length treatment of Lasch's life and work. Drawing on Lasch's published writings, his personal correspondence, and interviews with his friends, students, and colleagues, Miller weaves together the story of this enigmatic and perceptive figure. He captures the evolution of Lasch's understanding of the world and his fight for clarity and insight in a muddled, scattered age.
From the liberalism of the early 1960s to Freudian-Marxian socialism to cultural populism and self-proclaimed radicalism, Lasch never stood still in his intellectual journey, and he continued to offer a sharp, prophetic outlook on American life until his untimely death in 1994. This one and only Christopher Lasch biography tells the remarkable story of a crucial intellectual figure whose restless questioning still points us to the hope for a better way.
Christopher Lasch was a leading intellectual of the twentieth century. His work consistently probed the nations political and cultural terrain, considering the unruly thrust of Americas history and the possibilities of a better way. Hope in a Scattering Time is the first and only full biography of this towering intellectual figure.
Miller plumbed Laschs published writings, his correspondence, and interviews and correspondence with his friends, students, and colleagues to create this comprehensive biography. In these pages Eric Miller captures the evolving nature of Laschs understanding of the world and his fight for clarity and insight in a muddled age.
Christopher Laschs sharp, prophetic stance caused many in his time to rethink what they thought they had understood, and to consider the world anew. Fifteen years after Laschs death, the time is ripe to once again follow his lead and to reassess how we view and understand our world.
Eric Miller is associate professor of history at GenevaCollege, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. His writing hasappeared in Christianity Today, FirstThings, Books & Culture, and several otherpublications. "
-New York Times
The next time you close a book frustrated by the authors pseudo self-insight or are taken in by someones nervous, self-deprecatory humor, the next time you find yourself repelled by the general collapse of impulse control and by the type of person who sees the world as a mirror of himself, you might want to seek solace in Laschs illuminations. The personality of his time, it seems, is even more the personality of ours.
author of The Spiritual Life of Children
"In this book Eric Miller tellingly brings to life a very important twentieth-century American social and intellectual observer-critic. With brilliance and verve Christopher Lasch took a nation's pulse and scrutinized its flaws, ideas, and ideals. This biography expounds his candid wisdom and his impatience with pretense and hypocrisy a gift to all of us now as we try to figure out what matters, and why."
author of Brother to a Dragonfly
"Anyone who wants to understand Christopher Lasch has only to read Eric Miller's Hope in a Scattering Time. That is because only one intellectual should write about another. Few in Lasch's time would question that he was a brilliant scholar. Few who read Miller's book can question that he is another. We give thanks for both."
Jean Bethke Elshtain
author of Democracy on Trial
"Eric Miller's Hope in a Scattering Time is an intellectual inquiry and a moving personal portrait of a true American original."
author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America
Christopher Lasch was a major intellectual figure in late twentieth-century America, one of the few whose reputation is likely to survive and grow with the passage of time. His brand of historically and psychologically informed social criticism was uncommonly prescient and remains surprisingly relevant to our current dilemmas. So does his example, as Eric Miller shows in this vivid and engaging book. Laschs uncompromising independence cast him as Socrates in an age of sophists, and the sweeping range, critical intensity, high seriousness, and rigorous honesty of his writings won him warm admirers, many fierce critics, and a circle of brilliant and devoted students. Millers biography brings all of this to life and, in the process, offers Laschs life as a ringing case for the dignity of the intellectuals calling.
"Eric Miller has delivered a truly impressive work of careful narration and historical reclamation, one of the sort that his subject, perhaps most of all, would appreciate."
--Chris Lehmann, Bookforum
"A fine, thoughtful, and even moving book, its appearance could hardly be more opportune."
--Andrew Bacevich, World Affairs
"Eric Miller has written an intelligent and engaging Lasch life-story"
--David S. Brown, The American Conservative