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Daniel Boorstin
Daniel Boorstin.jpg
Librarian of Congress
In office
November 12, 1975 – September 14, 1987
President Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Lawrence Mumford
Succeeded by James Billington
Personal details
Born Daniel Joseph Boorstin
(1914-10-01)October 1, 1914
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Died February 28, 2004(2004-02-28) (aged 89)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma mater Harvard University
Balliol College, Oxford
Yale University

Daniel Joseph Boorstin (October 1, 1914 – February 28, 2004) was an American historian at the University of Chicago, writing on many topics in American history and world history. He was appointed twelfth Librarian of the United States Congress in 1975 and served until 1987. He was instrumental in the creation of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Repudiating his youthful membership in the Communist Party while a Harvard undergraduate (1938–39), Boorstin became a political conservative and a prominent exponent of Consensus history. He argued in The Genius of American Politics (1953) that ideology, propaganda, and political theory are foreign to America. His writings were often linked with such historians as Richard Hofstadter, Louis Hartz and Clinton Rossiter as a proponent of the "consensus school," which emphasized the unity of the American people and downplayed class and social conflict. Boorstin especially praised inventors and entrepreneurs as central to the American success story.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Boorstin was born in 1914, in Atlanta, Georgia, into a Jewish family. His father was a lawyer who participated in the defense of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintendent who was accused of the rape and murder of a teenage girl. After Frank's 1915 lynching led to a surge of anti-Semitic sentiment in Georgia, the family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Boorstin was raised. He graduated from Tulsa's Central High School at the age of 15.[3] He graduated with highest honors from Harvard, studied at Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, receiving BA and BCL degrees and earned an SJD degree at Yale University. He was a professor at the University of Chicago for 25 years and was the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge in 1964. He also served as director of the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Institution.

Boorstin wrote more than 20 books, including two major trilogies, one on the American experience and the other on world intellectual history. The Americans: The Democratic Experience, the final book in the first trilogy, received the 1974 Pulitzer Prize in history. Boorstin's second trilogy, The Discoverers, The Creators and The Seekers, examines the scientific, artistic and philosophic histories of humanity, respectively.

In his “Author’s Note” for The Daniel J. Boorstin Reader (Modern Library, 1995), he wrote, “Essential to my life and work as a writer was my marriage in 1941 to Ruth Frankel who has ever since been my companion and editor for all my books.” Her obituary in the Washington Post (December 6, 2013) quotes Boorstin as saying, “Without her, I think my works would have been twice as long and half as readable.”

Within the discipline of social theory, Boorstin's 1961 book The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America is an early description of aspects of American life that were later termed hyperreality and postmodernity. In The Image, Boorstin describes shifts in American culture – mainly due to advertising – where the reproduction or simulation of an event becomes more important or "real" than the event itself. He goes on to coin the term pseudo-event, which describes events or activities that serve little to no purpose other than to be reproduced through advertisements or other forms of publicity. The idea of pseudo-events anticipates later work by Jean Baudrillard and Guy Debord. The work is an often used text in American sociology courses, and Boorstin's concerns about the social effects of technology remain influential.[4]

When President Gerald Ford nominated Boorstin to be Librarian of Congress, the nomination was supported by the Authors Guild but opposed by liberals. He was attacked by the American Library Association because Boorstin "was not a library administrator". The Senate confirmed the nomination without debate.[5]

Boorstin died of pneumonia February 28, 2004, in Washington.[3] He is survived by his three sons, Paul, Jonathan and David, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Honors[edit]

Boorstin was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, First Class, by the Japanese government in 1986. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for writing The Americans: The Democratic Experience.[3] He was inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 1989, and received the Oklahoma Book Award in 1993 for The Creators.[3] He held twenty honorary degrees, including an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Tulsa[3] and Doctor of Letters from Oglethorpe University in 1994.[6]

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alan J. Levine (2011). Bad Old Days: The Myth of the 1950s. Transaction Publishers. pp. 81–82. 
  2. ^ Pole (1969)
  3. ^ a b c d e Wilson, Linda D. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Boorstin, Daniel J. (1914–2004)."
  4. ^ "Daniel J. Boorstin, RIP". The New Atlantis. Spring 2004. 
  5. ^ Robert Wedgeworth (1993). World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services. American Library Association. pp. 137–38. 
  6. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by Oglethorpe University". Oglethorpe University. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 

Further reading[edit]

  • John Y. Cole (March 30, 2006). "Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress – Librarians of Congress". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 15, 2008. 
  • Diggins, John P. "The Perils of Naturalism: Some Reflections on Daniel J. Boorstin's Approach to American History." American Quarterly (1971): 153-180. in JSTOR
  • Morgan, Edmund S. "Daniel J. Boorstin, 1 October 1914 · 28 February 2004," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (2006) 150#2 pp. 347–351 in JSTOR
  • Pole, J. R. "Daniel J. Boorstin." in Past-masters: Some Essays on American Historians edited by Marcus, Cunliffe and Robin Winks (1969). pp to 10-38
  • King, Wayne and Warren Weaver Jr. "Briefing: Boorstin and the Emperor", The New York Times, May 2, 1986.
  • Wilson, Clyde N. Twentieth-Century American Historians (Gale: 1983, Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 17) pp 79–85

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lawrence Q. Mumford
Librarian of Congress
1975–1987
Succeeded by
James H. Billington

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_J._Boorstin — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

178 news items

Forbes

Forbes
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 08:00:00 -0700

It actually originated from an analysis written by social theorist Daniel J. Boorstin, which was published in 1961. In the analysis, titled The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America, Boorstin writes about the media-dominated world, and defined the ...

The New Yorker

The New Yorker
Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:56:15 -0700

The historian Daniel J. Boorstin, writing in 1962, called these Moments “pseudo-events.” “I remain confident,” he wrote, “that what most dominates American experience today is not reality.” In 2015, popular culture, for better or worse, has swallowed ...

GraphoMania (Blog)

GraphoMania (Blog)
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 02:00:00 -0700

(Daniel J. Boorstin); La scuola non è riempire un secchio, ma accendere un incendio. (William Butler Yeats); Le radici dell'educazione sono amare, ma il frutto è dolce. (Aristotele); Lo scopo della scuola è quello di formare i giovani a educare se ...

Fortune

Fortune
Fri, 12 Jun 2015 07:56:34 -0700

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs: The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson, and The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO of Pimco: No Ordinary Disruption: ...
 
Boulevard Voltaire
Thu, 06 Aug 2015 13:15:53 -0700

Dans les années cinquante, Daniel J. Boorstin remarquait que 80 % des conversations tournaient à Los Angeles autour du trafic auto. Aujourd'hui, on voit les gens la tête plongée dans leur appareil de téléphone, le regard absorbé par leur image télé et ...
 
The Hill (blog)
Fri, 29 May 2015 14:22:30 -0700

Besides, much is amiss with televised debates, as the late historian Daniel J. Boorstin argued in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, first published in 1962. Boorstin considered the first series of televised presidential debates between ...

Puls Biznesu

Puls Biznesu
Mon, 10 Aug 2015 07:26:15 -0700

26 ton goździków, które przypłynęło do Hiszpanii sprzedano za 7 888 634 maravedi, czyli 947 tys. dzisiejszych dolarów amerykańskich (Daniel J. Boorstin: The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to know His World and Himself. New York: Random ...
 
Washington Post (blog)
Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:48:45 -0700

Diane Ravitch, the education historian, former assistant secretary of education, and titular leader of the movement against corporate school reform, edited a book decades ago titled “The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation.” It is an anthology ...
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