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Extended Audio Sample The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, by Louis Menand Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,848 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Louis Menand Narrator: Henry Leyva Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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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.