The American Credo: A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind
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The American Credo: A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  15 ratings  ·  5 reviews
According to Wikipedia: "Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken (1880 – 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English. Known as the "Sage of Baltimore", he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century. Mencken...more
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Published (first published 1921)
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Scot
American Credo: A Contribution to the Interpretation of the National Mind is a clever, cynical assault published in 1920 by Mencken and his co-author, a drama critic named George Jean Nathan with whom he would co-found The American Mercury in 1924. It caustically summarizes the state of the union and how many Americans perceived themselves in this post-WW I period. The first 3/5 of the book is a preface which provides the opportunity to call out hypocrisies and demagogues, ridicule country bumpk...more
Erik
This examination of what Americans think starts out aiming for de Tocqueville but then ends as imitation Dave Barry. In their preface (more than half the book), Nathan and Mencken ask what is the idea that really animates the American. The American would say:

his hot and unquenchable rage for liberty. He regards himself, indeed, as the chief exponent of liberty in the whole world, and all its other advocates as no more than his followers, half timorous and half envious. To question his ardour is
...more
Harry
I admire this book for its method more than anything else. Mencken and co-author George W. Nathan see their work as an experiment in "descriptive sociological psychology." The method is to catalog beliefs of all kinds in short, simple sentences with the purpose of understanding the fundamental assumptions of the American mind.

The preface is at least as important as the text itself in pursuing this purpose. The authors differentiate the moral mindset from the honor mindset, arguing for the predo...more
David Gross
The first half is very (all?) Mencken: a cringe-inducing look at the center of gravity of the American democratically-induced consensus reality circa the Woodrow Wilson administration.
Ask the average American what is the salient passion in his emotional armamentarium — what is the idea that lies at the bottom of all his other ideas — and it is very probable that, nine times out of ten, he will nominate his hot and unquenchable rage for liberty. He regards himself, indeed, as the chief exponent o
...more
Rodrigo
Ironic, smart. Elitist and fun. A bit outdated, of course (it's funny to see Woodrow Wilson treated as a populist treacherous politician!) but still interesting. And, by the way, as the "credo" goes, quite true!
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7805
Henry Louis "H.L." Mencken became one of the most influential and prolific journalists in America in the 1920s and '30s, writing about all the shams and con artists in the world. He attacked chiropractors and the Ku Klux Klan, politicians and other journalists. Most of all, he attacked Puritan morality. He called Puritanism, "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
At the height o...more
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“Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.” 5 likes
“Ask the average American what is the salient passion in his emotional armamentarium—what is the idea that lies at the bottom of all his other ideas—and it is very probable that, nine times out of ten, he will nominate his hot and unquenchable rage for liberty. He regards himself, indeed, as the chief exponent of liberty in the whole world, and all its other advocates as no more than his followers, half timorous and half envious. To question his ardour is to insult him as grievously as if one questioned the honour of the republic or the chastity of his wife. And yet it must be plain to any dispassionate observer that this ardour, in the course of a century and a half, has lost a large part of its old burning reality and descended to the estate of a mere phosphorescent superstition.” 3 likes
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