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American history
Banquet at Delmonico's: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America
 
 
Author
Barry Werth.
Publisher Random House  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
ISBN 9781400067787
Pages/Publication Date 362/2009
Daedalus Item Code 14051
This item is not available.
Description
"In this fascinating study, [Barry] Werth (The Scarlet Professor) shows how the idea of social Darwinism, as codified by Herbert Spencer, took hold in the United States, underpinning the philosophy of the Gilded Age's social, cultural and financial elite. Anchoring his story with the stunning Delmonico's celebration honoring the departure of Spencer after a triumphant tour of the United States in 1882, Werth rightly depicts the frame of reference Spencer left behind as a predecessor to Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, with its focus on unrestrained self-interest and unbridled capitalism. As Werth explains, Spencer's interpretation of Darwinism won the approval of not only robber barons but also prominent religious, scientific and political leaders. Henry Ward Beecher, writes Werth, used the most acclaimed pulpit in America to preach the gospel of evolution; that is, that it was God's way to ... sort the worthy from the wretched. This was survival of the fittest, which Spencer and his followers saw as not only just but necessary. Thus, Werth elegantly reveals a firm philosophical foundation for all the anti-labor excesses of the Industrial Age."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
 
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