NPR

'A Thousand Small Sanities' Is A Lesson In Understanding Liberalism

By showing the impact it's had in the past, Adam Gopnik presents liberalism not only as a moral adventure but also as a necessity in an age of resurging autocracy and rampant bigotry.
A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, by Adam Gopnik Source: nick73

Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World was one of the most memorable books I read in my early teens. The brilliance of that book came from Gaarder's ability to make complicated concepts easier for young minds to digest. Adam Gopnik's A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism does the same thing with liberalism — but for politically engaged adults.

Liberalism and liberals are under attack. In the current political landscape, the attack is coming from both right and left and rides a wave of events that threaten democracy stands against this charge. By (re)defining liberalism, tracing its impact on history, society, and politics, and engaging with a mix of intellectuals, theorists, writers, and political figures such as Frederick Douglass, Bayard Rustin, John Stuart Mill, Robert D. Putnam, Michael de Montaigne, Adolf Hitler, Benjamin Disraeli, Philip Roth, George Eliot, Harriet Taylor, G.H. Lewes, Michel Houellebecq, and Jürgen Habermas, Gopnik demonstrates how liberalism is, more than a term for political centrism or the idea of free markets, a concerned, ever-expanding search for positive, inclusive changes at all social and political levels. Ultimately, by showing the impact it's had in the past, Gopnik presents liberalism not only as a moral adventure but also as a necessity in an age of resurging autocracy and rampant bigotry.

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