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Are society's disadvantaged doomed to get "selected out" of the economic pool? Is America's social landscape a battleground for the "survival of the fittest," where only the strong endure? Once again, biology is being used to explain human development, and right-wing ideologues claim reluctance to intervene in the "natural" workings of the economy. Richard Hofstadter's now-classic work offers important insight into how ideas borne out of evolutionary theory continue to affect American values. Tracing the impact of Darwin on thinkers throughout the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, Social Darwinism shows how a politically neutral scientific theory has been adapted with skillful rhetoric to contradictory purposes.
Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) was a Dewitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University and author of many books. He was awarded Pulitzer Prizes for The Age of Reform and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.