Education & Science
By permission of the estate of C. W. Mills. Photo by Yaroslava.
By permission of the estate of C. W. Mills. Photo by Yaroslava. "The independent artist and intellectual are among the few remaining personalities equipped to resist and to fight the stereotyping and consequent death of genuinely lively things.
One of the leading public intellectuals of twentieth-century America and a pioneering and brilliant social scientist, C. Wright Mills left a legacy of interdisciplinary and hard-hitting work including two books that changed the way many people viewed their lives and the structure of power in the United States: White Collar (1951) and The Power Elite (1956). Mills persistently challenged the status quo within his profession--as in The Sociological Imagination (1959)--and within his country, until his untimely death in 1962. This collection of letters and writings, edited by his daughters, allows readers to see behind Mills's public persona for the first time. Mills's letters to prominent figures--including Saul Alinsky, Daniel Bell, Lewis Coser, Carlos Fuentes, Hans Gerth, Irving Howe, Dwight MacDonald, Robert K. Merton, Ralph Miliband, William Miller, David Riesman, and Harvey Swados--are joined by his letters to family members, letter-essays to an imaginary friend in Russia, personal narratives by his daughters, and annotations drawing on published and unpublished material, including the FBI file on Mills.
Sociologist, social critic, and political radical C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) was one of the leading public intellectuals in twentieth century America. Offering an important new understanding of Mills and the times in which he lived, Radical Ambition challenges the captivating caricature that has prevailed of him as a lone rebel critic of 1950s complacency. Instead, it places Mills within broader trends in American politics, thought, and culture. Indeed, Daniel Geary reveals that Mills shared key assumptions about American society even with those liberal intellectuals who were his primary opponents. The book also sets Mills firmly within the history of American sociology and traces his political trajectory from committed supporter of the Old Left labor movement to influential herald of an international New Left. More than just a biography, Radical Ambition illuminates the career of a brilliant thinker whose life and works illustrate both the promise and the dilemmas of left-wing social thought in the United States.
First published in 1956, The Power Elite stands as a contemporary classic of social science and social criticism. C. Wright Mills examines and critiques the organization of power in the United States, calling attention to three firmly interlocked prongs of power: the military, corporate, and political elite. The Power Elite can be read as a good account of what was taking place in America at the time it was written, but its underlying question of whether America is as democratic in practice as it is in theory continues to matter very much today. What The Power Elite informed readers of in 1956 was how much the organization of power in America had changed during their lifetimes, and Alan Wolfe's astute afterword to this new edition brings us up to date, illustrating how much more has changed since then. Wolfe sorts out what is helpful in Mills book and which of his predictions have not come to bear, laying out the radical changes in American capitalism, from intense global competition and the collapse of communism to rapid technological transformations and ever changing consumer tastes. The Power Elite has stimulated generations of readers to think about the kind of society they have and the kind of society they might want, and deserves to be read by every new generation.
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C. Wright Mills. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout) C. Wright Mills, the radical Columbia University sociologist who died 50 years ago (March 20, 19...
Dissecting the Politics and Culture of Capitalism
Fifty years ago, in "The Power Elite," C. Wright Mills called the idea that public opinion still guided political life a "fairy tale."
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