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The Myth of American Individualism:
The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought
Barry Alan Shain

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"With this tightly organized, carefully argued study, Barry Alan Shain makes a major contribution to the contemporary debate over the political ideology of the American Revolutionary ear."--Thomas E. Buckley, Catholic Historical Review

"A fascinating work that does much to expose the hollowness of early American individualism."--William J. Watkins, Jr., Chronicles

"In a provocative book, Barry Shain goes to great lengths to argue against the common conception of an America based on the absolute freedom of the individual to do as he or she sees fit. . . . Shain concludes that individual liberties as conceived in 20th-century America were not valued nearly as much as communal rights and communal freedoms. . . . He is a sophisticated thinker and a complex logician who impressively deconstructs the image of the Revolution's unfettered individualism."--Zachary Karabell, Boston Book Review

"Barry Shain is perhaps not so much an anti-liberal as a general troublemaker determined to cause embarrassment on all sides. In The Myth of American Individualism, he studies the years 1760-90, and he finds this period very much different from the one characterized by individualism which liberals have portrayed. On the other hand, he finds no secular republicanism of the kind celebrated by Hannah Arendt and the `communitarians' she has inspired."--Harvey Mansfield, Times Literary Supplement


"Barry Shain has ambitiously set out to deracinate eighteenth-century American individualism, leaving in its stead the roots of a Protestant localist political culture from which contemporary Americans might recover the language of community. The result is a fresh look at the values that animated America's revolutionary generation."--Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles

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File created: 4/21/2017

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