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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 Q. Mumford
Succeeded by James H. Billington
Personal details
Born Daniel Joseph Boorstin
(1914-10-01)October 1, 1914
Atlanta, Georgia
Died February 28, 2004(2004-02-28) (aged 89)
Washington, D.C.
Alma mater Harvard College
Oxford University
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 three sons, Paul, Jonathan and David Boorstin.

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]

Books[edit]

Boorstin at the Miami Book Fair International, 1992

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. 

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.
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166 news items

The Japan Times

The Japan Times
Sat, 24 Jan 2015 05:52:30 -0800

Historian Daniel J. Boorstin once defined a celebrity as someone who is “known for his well-knownness” — a person famous for being famous. Though many celebrities have talent and other attributes that draw attention, it is easier to gain notoriety ...

National Review Online (blog)

National Review Online (blog)
Wed, 31 Dec 2014 01:08:34 -0800

... Invisible Man's Ralph Waldo Ellison, tragic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, John Hersey (whose landmark New Yorker article “Hiroshima” can be found here), former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin, and Nobel Prize–winning Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

BassResource.com (press release)

BassResource.com (press release)
Tue, 13 Jan 2015 08:35:09 -0800

... Bass:Largemouth & Smallmouth. Posted January 13 2015 - 12:56 PM. Thanks for the laughs! You could say you fish because you are a masochist. "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge." (Daniel J Boorstin).
 
Washington Post
Fri, 06 Dec 2013 14:12:42 -0800

Ruth F. Boorstin, the stalwart collaborator with and editor of her late husband, former librarian of Congress and prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin, died Dec. 1 at an assisted-living center in Encino, Calif. She was 95. The cause was sudden ...
 
Telepolis
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 06:21:52 -0800

Statt Hintergrundinformationen wird Gesinnungsjournalismus produziert, den die Publizistin Sabina Lietzmann einst als Mülljournalismus definierte. In seinem Buch "The Image", welches 1962 erschien, stellte derSchriftsteller Daniel. J Boorstin die These ...

The Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard
Thu, 25 Dec 2014 21:03:45 -0800

Social critics like Daniel J. Boorstin warned about the rise of a culture based on “simulation” and “illusion” rather than on reality. In his landmark The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1962), Boorstin pointed an angry finger at “Madison ...
 
Wall Street Journal
Thu, 08 May 2014 16:22:01 -0700

Especially in our own age (and at least since the French Revolution of 1789), more and more of the world has sought in social theory no mere rationale for institutions but a blueprint for remaking society. Rousseau and Marx, for example, have been put ...
 
Financial Advisor Magazine
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 08:07:30 -0800

The late University of Chicago historian Daniel J. Boorstin wrote these words nearly two decades ago, and I can't think of a better quote to sum up what has been the norm in the non-traded REIT industry since the product gained mainstream momentum ...
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