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Extended Audio Sample The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America Audiobook, by Louis Menand Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 5 4.24 (21 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Louis Menand Narrator: Henry Leyva Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2001 ISBN: 9781598871791
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Hardly a club in the conventional sense, the organization referred to in the title of this superb literary hybrid—part history, part biography, part philosophy—consisted of four members and probably existed for less than nine months. Yet its impact upon American intellectual life remains incalculable. Louis Menand masterfully weaves pivotal late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century events, colorful biographical anecdotes, and abstract ideas into a narrative whole that both enthralls and enlightens.

The Metaphysical Club is a compellingly vital account of how the cluster of ideas that came to be called pragmatism was forged from the searing experiences of its progenitors’ lives. Here are Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, all of them giants of American thought, made colloquially accessible both as human beings and as intellects.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Metaphysical Club is dramatic and persuasive…Something very like a history of the American mind at work.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “[A] detailed and fascinating essay on the history of American intellectual life…It enlivens virtually everything it touches.”

    Economist

  • “If you can read only one book about pragmatism and American culture, this is the book to read.”

    American Scientist

  • “Brilliant…Menand brings rare common sense and graceful, witty prose to his richly nuanced reading of American intellectual history.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of the 2002 Parkman Prize for the Society of American Historians
  • A 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for History

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ian Oeschger | 2/19/2014

    " What an eloquent, idiosyncratic reread. Menand is an original. And his suggestion, at the very end, of the new timeliness of these ideas...great. Heading right to Dewey now. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Willis | 2/17/2014

    " In general, I have liked the Pulitzer Prize winners in History books and have read many of the more recent ones. I didn't like this one as much as the others. It is well written, but you have to take it a little bit slower than you would otherwise to really understand what the author is saying. You would like this if you like Philosophy because it really is a book about some of the famous American philosophers post Civil War era - like William James, Dewey, Peirce and Holmes. The main premise is that some of the "rights" that we enjoy today - like freedom of speech, weren't really part of our society's expectation until some of these men articulated that and made it a part of our culture. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristen Case | 2/11/2014

    " This is the book that made me want to go to graduate school. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lia Jacobson | 2/7/2014

    " I really admire this examination of the origin, history, and application of pragmatist theory. I now consider myself more of a pragmatic thinker. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barron | 1/31/2014

    " Gets fantasticker as it winds up to the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diane Gaffney | 1/26/2014

    " Thought provoking read....The Author covers alot in roughly 500 pages regarding how thought and ideas became prevalent in American Society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anthony | 1/20/2014

    " This had been on my to-read list for far too long after todd highly recommended it. I finally got around to it this Fall, starting with little bits before I went to bed, and eventually going through most of it during Christmas vacation. The book provides biographies of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles S. Peirce, William James and John Dewey, winding its way through the interesting features of their intellectual backgrounds (and there are quite a few) and the way their lives brought them to interact. The title comes from a short-lived discussion group James, Peirce and Holmes attended, one of a number of such groups with shifting members in Cambridge over the years. Menand's prose is generally smooth, occasionally spirited, and never obscures any of the philosophical ideas, of which his knowledge seems solid and his presentation is clear. Definitely worth reading for anyone even dimly interested philosophy, history, and science. Plus, I'll lend you todd's copy if you want to read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nat | 1/8/2014

    " Enjoyed the original, but the book on tape version made me fall asleep. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 1/4/2014

    " This was the required reading for my first year of law school. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 11/14/2013

    " A fascinating look into the ideas of a generation. Intellectual history at its best. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kennan | 8/22/2013

    " A fascinating examination of the some of the most influential minds and thought of the 20th century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Iris Asllani | 8/18/2012

    " Indispensable reading for anyone interested in particularities of the evolution of ideas that shaped the American way thinking. Read it in tandem with Colm Toibin's "The Master" and you'll be in for a true feast of the mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Gould | 8/3/2012

    " Menand is a master storyteller. Turned a topic I knew little about in to something interesting, and the angle of ideas emerging from the group makes for intriguing comparison with my current writing fiefdom of Japan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachael | 2/6/2012

    " What a great overview of American intellectual history. I definitely plan on revisiting this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Affandi | 10/31/2011

    " Such great perspectives from the giants of American philosophers... Post the civil war, it made me want to start my very own metaphysical club, and bring along this book so I can read passages from it before each meeting! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caitlin | 5/2/2011

    " As a self-proclaimed pragmatist I feel I need to know the history of my philosophy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 2/22/2011

    " Long and academic with few signposts to guide you through it, however there are some really interesting syntheses within. Worth trudging through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 AJ | 1/25/2011

    " Extremely intriguing book. Great if you love history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Affandi | 1/11/2011

    " Such great perspectives from the giants of American philosophers... Post the civil war, it made me want to start my very own metaphysical club, and bring along this book so I can read passages from it before each meeting! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trevor | 9/5/2010

    " Making intellectual history into this much of a page turner is quite a feet. An invaluable resource. That said I wanted to know more about Dewey's notions of reality. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 6/23/2010

    " A thorough, dazzling, exciting trip through late 19th century American thought. Menand's exquisite writing makes these ideas and figures compelling and modern and in the end utterly absorbing and thought-provoking. This might be my new favorite book. "

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About the Author
Author Louis Menand

Louis Menand is most well known for The Metaphysical Club, a detailed history of American intellectual and philosophical life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It received a Pulitzer Prize in history in 2002 and also received the 2002 Francis Parkman Prize. Menand is currently a staff writer for the New Yorker and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. He completed his undergraduate work at Pomona and received his PhD from Columbia University in 1980. Currently professor of English and American literature and language at Harvard, he lives between Beacon Hill, Massachusetts, and New York City.

About the Narrator

Henry Leyva, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is a classically trained actor with extensive work in theater, television, film, and radio. He has appeared off Broadway and in regional theaters across the country in many plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, and Street Car Named Desire. He has also performed in audio dramas for the Syfy Channel and National Public Radio.