Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is the Merle Curti Associate Professor of History and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches U.S. intellectual and cultural history. She is the author of the prize-wining American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas (2012). Her co-edited volumes include Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Cultures of Dissent (2015) with James Danky and the late James Baughman, and The Worlds of American Intellectual History (2016) with Joel Isaac, James Kloppenberg, and the late Michael O'Brien. Her next book project is a history of wisdom in 20th-century American thought and culture.
A valuable civic exercise that invites 'thinking about thinking.' -- Kirkus [A] thoughtful and succinct introduction to American intellectual history. -- Publishers Weekly, starred review [Ratner-Rosenhagen's] curiosity about ideas, her determination to understand a diverse set of authors and points of view on their own terms, and her conviction that the messiness of the American intellectual tradition is an essential feature of American life make this book a stimulating read. -- Foreign Affairs Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is one of our finest intellectual historians, and The Ideas That Made America shows her in top form. It is lively, fresh, and illuminating; it casts news light on many figures and movements we thought we knew well. One could not ask for a more succinct and subtle overview of American ideas and their consequences. -- Jackson Lears, Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History, Rutgers University In sparkling prose, Ratner-Rosenhagen surveys the grand sweep of American ideas from the Puritans to Postmodernism, and everything in between. She shows how a whole variety of people have tackled some of the thorniest American questions over the last three hundred years: What is the place we call America? And who are Americans? Anyone interested in the big ideas should reach for this very short-and very illuminating-book. -- Caroline Winterer, Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University The Ideas That Made America is an astonishment. In accessible and compelling prose, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen shows us why she is considered one of our great intellectual historians. Here, she brings us a history of the United States that is as impressive for its breadth as it is for its precision. Ratner-Rosenhagen tends to the rich palette of ideas that have defined this nation, making sure to speak to its inalienable truths while also acknowledging its tragic flaws. The United States is as much an expression of a single idea as it is a conglomeration of competing ideologies, visions ,and voices. Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen guides us through these contradictions with seemingly effortless mastery. I, for one, am grateful for her guidance. -Jonathan Holloway, Provost and Professor of History and African American Studies, Northwestern University