This book profoundly altered the way I think about America at the turn of the 20th century, and also how I go about writing history myself Weaving insights from psychoanalysis, sociology, literary theory, and cultural history, Lears creates a topical history that resists telling history with a simple narrative arc, even as it utilizes the narratives of the lives of exemplary figures Half history, half theory, No Place of Grace is a deeply moral work that makes a case for spirituality and the q This book profoundly altered the way I think about America at the turn of the 20th century, and also how I go about writing history myself Weaving insights from psychoanalysis, sociology, literary theory, and cultural history, Lears creates a topical history that resists telling history with a simple narrative arc, even as it utilizes the narratives of the lives of exemplary figures Half history, half theory, No Place of Grace is a deeply moral work that makes a case for spirituality and the quest for meaning Lears explains the cultural and intellectual transformation of the period 1880 1920 as a flight from modernity and its attendant weightlessness and rationalization toward antimodern sentiment While this sort of antimodernism has routinely especially in the case of Henry Adams been seen as the last gasp of a dying world, Lears writes against this interpretation, considering turn of the century anti modernism as something new Methodologically Lears draws on a combination of Gramsci and Freud Lears explains the cultural and intellectual transformation of the period 1880 1920 as a flight from modernity and its attendant weightlessness and rationalization toward antimodern sentiment While this sort of antimodernism has routinely especially in the case of Henry Adams been seen as the last gasp of a dying world, Lears writes against this interpretation, considering turn of the century anti modernism as something new Methodologically Lears draws on a combination of Gramsci and Freud suggesting that while the American ruling class did create a dominant culture, they did so in part through unconscious or subconscious desires a deep ambivalence about autonomy vs dependency This ambivalence led the point men of the United States toward eastern mysticism, a fetishization of innocence in the form of children and of the Middle Ages and a desire for lived experience over the effete intellectual life of late 19th century positivism often through militarism Lears desires in part to rescue antimodernism, the best of Conservatism from contemporary right wing defenders of corporate capitalism While he takes pains at least, to insist that he is not overgeneralizing by extrapolating from the experience of the hegemonic elite, I am not totally convinced that his analysis extends as far as he wants it to Brilliant study of antimodern impulses during the growth of industry and the consumer economy Jacskon Lears shows how Americans entertained serious critiques of modernity for instance, returning to an artisanal economy of Arts and Crafts, reviving medieval imagery and heroic sagas for the imperial era, using militarism to reinvigorate white masculinity, or preferring Catholicism or mysticism to secularism Lear s great insight is that antimodernism could wind up reinforcing the economic and Brilliant study of antimodern impulses during the growth of industry and the consumer economy Jacskon Lears shows how Americans entertained serious critiques of modernity for instance, returning to an artisanal economy of Arts and Crafts, reviving medieval imagery and heroic sagas for the imperial era, using militarism to reinvigorate white masculinity, or preferring Catholicism or mysticism to secularism Lear s great insight is that antimodernism could wind up reinforcing the economic and cultural power of the bourgeoisie Theodore Roosevelt detested physical weakness and thought a bit of war was good for every white patrician man, but he married these antimodern attitudes to a strong defense of capitalism He went to war in Latin America to create foreign markets, as clear an example of toxic acquisitive individualism as any Writer Brooks Adams viewed medieval society as according menfreedom than Northeastern filiopiety or capitalism Adams was also a virulent anti Semite who claimed Jews were using the economy to hurt the people Even the Arts and Crafts reformers, building utopian and artists communes, wound up reinforcing capitalism, since by withdrawing from mainstream society they abdicated control of it Lears believes that his critique of libertarian utopianism and therapeutics in the Progressive Era also applies to twentieth century socialists, expatriates, and Beatniks and, I d add, New Agers Focusing on the self is not the way to transform society The book s theoretical language is dense Lears assumes the reader knows about Freud, Gramsci, and Marx As in Lears s Something for Nothing, Lears tends toward descriptive reductionism He lumps too many disparate trends under the category of antimodern Still, this book is essential for understanding opposition to consumer capitalism and the ways that Northeastern elites appropriated that opposition to strengthen the capitalist system Lears writes with verve and insight about the coming of modern times He shows us what this meant to the culture in the arts, in consciousness, religion, and how Americans defined themselves It s an impressive book that makes sense of an era crowded with big personalities and technological change. T J Jackson Lears draws on a wealth of primary sources sermons, diaries, letters as well as novels, poems, and essays to explore the origins of turn of the century American antimodernism He examines the retreat to the exotic, the pursuit of intense physical or spiritual experiences, and the search for cultural self sufficiency through the Arts and Crafts movement Lears argues that their antimodern impulse, pervasive than historians have supposed, was not simple escapism, but reveals some enduring and recurring tensions in American culture It s an understatement to call No Place of Grace a brilliant book It s the first clear sign I ve seen that my generation, after marching through the s and jogging through the s might be pausing to examine what we ve learned, and to teach it Walter Kendrick, Village Voice One can justly make the claim that No Place of Grace restores and reinterprets a crucial part of American history Lears s method is impeccable Ann Douglas, The Nation Lears argues that at the turn of the 20th century antimodernist impulse was not merely cultural escapism, but a critique of the secularization and increasing bureaucracy of American life Antimodernists yearned for greater individualization and authenticity, as well a renewed spirituality Turning toward an exotic and spiritualized medieval and orientalist aesthetic, American antimodernists nurtured a therapeutic world view that was ambivalently compatible with the material progress and imperial Lears argues that at the turn of the 20th century antimodernist impulse was not merely cultural escapism, but a critique of the secularization and increasing bureaucracy of American life Antimodernists yearned for greater individualization and authenticity, as well a renewed spirituality Turning toward an exotic and spiritualized medieval and orientalist aesthetic, American antimodernists nurtured a therapeutic world view that was ambivalently compatible with the material progress and imperialism of modern American culture Turning toward an exotic and spiritualized medieval and orientalist aesthetic, as well as return to the tradition of handcraft, Antimodernist Americans linked morality and taste with art and ritual Yet, it was a taste that promoted conspicuous consumption Large collections of original art were established during this period, with wealthy Americans salvaging and preserving European art This is the second time I ve read this book, and I like it better this time than the first However, I did not enjoy it as much as Learsrecent book Rebirth of a Nation, which I read first and think wasfully developed I still am somewhat troubled by Lears use of the term Antimodern Modernist In No Place of Grace, T.J Jackson Lears explores the origins and effects of the antimodernist movement in the United States around the turn of the 20th century He argues that due to the spiritual and psychological turmoil created by modernity, many intellectuals began yearning for aauthentic physical and emotional experience by embracing old ways He claims that this movement isintellectually and socially important than previously suspected, because it not only encouraged esc In No Place of Grace, T.J Jackson Lears explores the origins and effects of the antimodernist movement in the United States around the turn of the 20th century He argues that due to the spiritual and psychological turmoil created by modernity, many intellectuals began yearning for aauthentic physical and emotional experience by embracing old ways He claims that this movement isintellectually and socially important than previously suspected, because it not only encouraged escapist nostalgia and protests against liberalism, it also created a subtle and long lasting transformation of the psychological foundation of America, making way for a streamlined liberal culture of consumer capitalism Lears demonstrates the complexity of the Antimodernist movement as well as the important transformations that arose out of it He also points out that it is still evident in avant garde art and literature It is evident that he conducted extensive research on the individuals involved in this movement, and used various personal writings to explore the inner sentiments of these people Upon a theoretical foundation that combines Gramsci s cultural hegemony with Freud s psychoanalytic focus, Lears proposes agradual and nuanced telling of the progression from the nineteenth century to the twentieth, depicting the Victorian bourgeoisie s antimodernim as constructive ambivalence, which shaped both American culture and her landscape While the academic trend of the moment was to focus on the experiences of ordinary people, Lears chronicles how the intellectual elite experienc Upon a theoretical foundation that combines Gramsci s cultural hegemony with Freud s psychoanalytic focus, Lears proposes agradual and nuanced telling of the progression from the nineteenth century to the twentieth, depicting the Victorian bourgeoisie s antimodernim as constructive ambivalence, which shaped both American culture and her landscape While the academic trend of the moment was to focus on the experiences of ordinary people, Lears chronicles how the intellectual elite experienced weightlessness in private and public, rooted in a crisis of cultural authority, caused by a combination of urbanization, post industrialization, and increasingly secular views Beset by cultural strain, moral confusion, and anomie, this privileged group sought real, authentic, sweeping experiences through preindustrial craftsmanship, a pastoral and simple life, martial violence, exotic encounters, and mysticism These actions were never fully nostalgic, backward actions, however, as Lears argues, antimodernism was a complex blend of accommodation and protest that transitioned the elite and common man alike into a new age of consumer capitalism Lears writes an intellectual and psychological history of a portion of the educated American elite around the turn of the last century There he finds deep spiritual turmoil and a strain of anti modernism reaching towards and appropriating medieval, Asian, and primitive cultures The writing is thick not difficult to read, but not quick as Lears opens up ideas and individuals, as they sought therapuetic self fulfillment in experience And so while the anti modernists sought to avoid the advanc Lears writes an intellectual and psychological history of a portion of the educated American elite around the turn of the last century There he finds deep spiritual turmoil and a strain of anti modernism reaching towards and appropriating medieval, Asian, and primitive cultures The writing is thick not difficult to read, but not quick as Lears opens up ideas and individuals, as they sought therapuetic self fulfillment in experience And so while the anti modernists sought to avoid the advances of modernism, their therapuetic turn did not question the developing corporate society sufficiently and their questing was easily assimilated into that society s individualism and consumerism Theoretically intriguing but ultimately a fabulist version of history Lears hearts Gramsci, Freud, Weber, Nietzsche and all the other cool kids, but his platform, basically the Arts and Crafts Movement and neo medievalism circa 1900, is too thin to support his grand designs Just write philosophy, man The Freudian reading of Henry Adams is worth a read for Henry Adams aficionados, and you know who you are.