Cutting Through the Cant

Rebirth of a Nation
The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920
Jackson Lears
HarperCollins, $27.99, 432 pp.

The great harm done by the promiscuous misuse of superlatives in American literary life is that when a truly superlative piece of work comes along, all the words that might seem appropriate have long since been worn out. A reviewer is left groping for ways to explain, without resorting to clichés, how and why the truly outstanding stands out.

As befits a book that pays tribute to the American tradition of plain speaking, let me try a...

The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...


About the Author

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations emeritus at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies.