Louis Menand


Born
in Syracuse, The United States
January 21, 1952

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Louis Menand, professor of English at Harvard University, is the author of The Metaphysical Club, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in History. A longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Average rating: 4.0 · 8,035 ratings · 882 reviews · 28 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Metaphysical Club

4.07 avg rating — 4,541 ratings — published 2001 — 28 editions
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The Marketplace of Ideas: R...

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3.59 avg rating — 312 ratings — published 2010 — 10 editions
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Pragmatism: A Reader

3.98 avg rating — 241 ratings — published 1997
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American Studies

3.92 avg rating — 227 ratings — published 2002 — 11 editions
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The Best American Essays 2004

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3.96 avg rating — 189 ratings — published 2004 — 3 editions
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The Free World: Art and Tho...

4.23 avg rating — 186 ratings — published 2021 — 6 editions
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Discovering Modernism: T.S....

3.76 avg rating — 33 ratings — published 1986 — 5 editions
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The Future of Academic Freedom

3.54 avg rating — 13 ratings — published 1996 — 2 editions
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The Story of the Soup Cans

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2 ratings
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The Rise of the Research Un...

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liked it 3.00 avg rating — 2 ratings3 editions
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“Quotable quotes are coins rubbed smooth by circulation.”
Louis Menand

“There is history the way Tolstoy imagined it, as a great, slow-moving weather system in which even tsars and generals are just leaves before the storm. And there is history the way Hollywood imagines it, as a single story line in which the right move by the tsar or the wrong move by the general changes everything. Most of us, deep down, are probably Hollywood people. We like to invent “what if” scenarios--what if x had never happened, what if y had happened instead?--because we like to believe that individual decisions make a difference: that, if not for x, or if only there had been y, history might have plunged forever down a completely different path. Since we are agents, we have an interest in the efficacy of agency.”
Louis Menand

“The lesson Holmes took from the war can be put in a sentence. It is that certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideologues, dogmatists, and bullies—people who think that their rightness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to subscribe to their particular ideology, dogma, or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later, by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them.”
Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

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