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Hope in a Scattering Time
A Life of Christopher Lasch
HARDCOVER; Published: 4/16/2010
ISBN: 978-0-8028-1769-3
Price: $ 32.00
420 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
The first biography of the best-selling author of The Culture of Narcissism and other modern American classics

Historian and social critic Christopher Lasch (1932–1994) was an odd subject for a story in People magazine. Yet there he was, featured in a July 1979 issue, thanks to a national fascination with his latest book, The Culture of Narcissism. It was perhaps the strangest moment in the life of an unpredictable thinker who always questioned assumptions, challenged orthodoxies, and blurred neat distinctions between divergent political ideologies and cultural agendas.

Eric Miller has now written the first book-length treatment of Lasch's life and work. Drawing on Lasch's published writings, his personal correspondence, and interviews with his friends, students, and colleagues, Miller weaves together the story of this enigmatic and perceptive figure. He captures the evolution of Lasch's understanding of the world and his fight for clarity and insight in a muddled, scattered age.

From the liberalism of the early 1960s to Freudian-Marxian socialism to cultural populism and self-proclaimed radicalism, Lasch never stood still in his intellectual journey, and he continued to offer a sharp, prophetic outlook on American life until his untimely death in 1994. This one and only Christopher Lasch biography tells the remarkable story of a crucial intellectual figure whose restless questioning still points us to the hope for a better way.

On the relevance of Christopher Lasch for readers today:

"The next time you close a book frustrated by the author's 'pseudo self-insight' or are taken in by someone's 'nervous, self-deprecatory humor,' the next time you find yourself repelled by the general collapse of 'impulse control' and by the type of person who 'sees the world as a mirror of himself,' you might want to seek solace in Lasch's illuminations. The personality of his time, it seems, is even more the personality of ours."
-- Lee Siegel in The New York Times
Christianity Today Book Awards, Winner in History and Biography (2011)
Norman Birnbaum
The Nation
"Given the large changes in Lasch's thoughts and the wide range of his intellectual and personal friendships in our divided public culture, Eric Miller deserves thanks for having brought a spiritually difficult career to life so sympathetically. Hope in a Scattering Time is meticulous in its workmanship, lucid in exposition and honest about the biographer's assumptions. . . . Miller succeeds splendidly in his essential task, however, tracing the development of Lasch's thought as it became ever more complex."
Alan Wolfe
The New Republic
"Lasch is owed his due and Miller is the right person to provide it. . . Miller's biography is as thorough as it is thoughtful. This is anything but a quickly written effort to explore the relationship between a thinker and his times. Miller has not only dug deeply, he has also pondered carefully. Lasch's writings always fascinated me: I looked forward to each of his books, expecting to encounter a writer willing to discuss the most serious of themes in ways that resonated among large numbers of his fellow citizens — and a writer who would provoke me into flabbergasting disagreement in the process. I never met the man, but thanks to this book I now feel that I have. I could not be more grateful to Miller for facilitating the introduction."
Chris Lehmann
"Eric Miller has delivered a truly impressive work of careful narration and historical reclamation, one of the sort that his subject, perhaps most of all, would appreciate."
Robert Coles
— author of The Spiritual Life of Children
"In this book Eric Miller tellingly brings to life a very important twentieth-century American social and intellectual observer-critic. With brilliance and verve Christopher Lasch took a nation's pulse and scrutinized its flaws, ideas, and ideals. This biography expounds his candid wisdom and his impatience with pretense and hypocrisy — a gift to all of us now as we try to figure out what matters, and why."
Will Campbell
— author of Brother to a Dragonfly
"Anyone who wants to understand Christopher Lasch has only to read Eric Miller's Hope in a Scattering Time. That is because only one intellectual should write about another. Few in Lasch's time would question that he was a brilliant scholar. Few who read Miller's book can question that he is another. We give thanks for both."
Jean Bethke Elshtain
— author of Democracy on Trial
"Eric Miller's Hope in a Scattering Time is an intellectual inquiry and a moving personal portrait of a true American original."
Wilfred McClay
— author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America
"Christopher Lasch was a major intellectual figure in late twentieth-century America, one of the few whose reputation is likely to survive and grow with the passage of time. His brand of historically and psychologically informed social criticism was uncommonly prescient and remains surprisingly relevant to our current dilemmas. So does his example, as Eric Miller shows in this vivid and engaging book. Lasch's uncompromising independence cast him as Socrates in an age of sophists, and the sweeping range, critical intensity, high seriousness, and rigorous honesty of his writings won him warm admirers, many fierce critics, and a circle of brilliant and devoted students. Miller's biography brings all of this to life and, in the process, offers Lasch's life as a ringing case for the dignity of the intellectual's calling."
Bill Kauffman
The American Conservative
" . . . an absorbing intellectual biography of the heterodox social critic and historian — a book worthy of its subject. "