A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom
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A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In A Tolerable Anarchy, Jedediah Purdy traces the history of the American understanding of freedom, an ideal that has inspired the country’s best—and worst—moments, from independence and emancipation to war and economic uncertainty. Working from portraits of famous American lives, like Frederick Douglas and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Purdy asks crucial questions about our relati...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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I picked this plain, little book up because it had come up as an item to weed during the recent collection development overview being done at the Medfield Library. However, when I looked more closely at the book I was intrigued by the questions that the author was trying to ask. Being a relatively moral person, I thought I'd give this book a new lease on life and check it out rather than just withdraw it and keep it for myself, now I am very glad that I did.

Purdy starts by analyzing the ideals o...more
Bookmarks Magazine

What all critics appreciated about A Tolerable Anarchy was the rich intellectual history Purdy has constructed; more than one reviewer compared the book to a college course with a very engaging professor. But they were less certain about whether Purdy had reliably proved his particular thesis. In the New York Times Book Review, Gary Hart, the former senator and presidential candidate, compared Purdy's book to Alan Wolfe's recent title The Future of Liberalism and found the former the equivalent

Gina Scioscia
Really enjoyed this title! Ostensibly, its about the history of the American Revolution and creation of the constitution, yet it's more about the meaning and uniqueness of freedom as an ideal, which all too often we take for granted or cover with patriotic platitudes.
Purdy shows how that freedom is not ensconced in government documents, but is a constantly changing idea whose limits are expanding. He cites Frederick Douglass as an example of an individual who took the failures of American freed...more
Daniel Cunningham
Deserving of a re-read. Purdy always manages to render, with much more clarity and breadth, many of my own thoughts. I will say this book left me a tiny bit confused at the end, as it became more prescriptive --in a very gentle way-- than descriptive. I guess I was just not expecting that, and it seemed a bit of a sudden turn.

That said, when all is said in done, he made a strong case for addressing issues of today with a wide open mind and great respect. As always with Purdy, a good read; better...more
I've really like Purdy since I read For Common Things about five years ago. He's the type of writer that I wished wrote, blogged and talked more. He has a very clear way of looking at things.

This book didn't disappoint. It was harder to get through than I remember his other works (most likely because I had to put it down every few minutes because I have kids now).

Purdy does an excellent job connecting the different tangents he picks up through American history and brings them solidy up to the pr...more
This was a book about how people of different eras interrupted the word freedom in their literature and lives. I was interested in these different historical interpretations and felt the book quite interesting until the final chapter. This chapter dealt with climate change and how we could approach the problem.
May 05, 2010 Jay is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
too many big words. i don't even know what "tolerable" means.
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For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today Being America: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World The Meaning of Property: Freedom, Community, and the Legal Imagination Democratic Vistas A Tolerable Anarchy

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