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Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America [Hardcover]

Robert Hughes
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 18.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 2006
In this radical account of the decline of twentieth-century American culture, Time art critic Robert Hughes insists that the politicization of almost every area of American culture has resulted in quarrelling, infighting, and a fall in the standards needed to hold such a diverse nation together.

Based on a series of lectures sponsored by the New York Public Library and Oxford University Press, Culture of Complaint asserts that the melting pot of America has never melted, and that American mutuality has always existed in a recognition of differences. The blame for the fraying of the American sense of collectivity and mutual respect is laid at many doors: demagogues who claim there is only one path to virtuous Americanness, multiculturalists who seek to rewrite history, advocators of political correctness, and sociologists who see the dysfunctional family as the cause of most personal problems. The book is an extraordinary statement of the times, and a clarion call for the rebuilding of America.

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Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America + Things I Didn't Know + The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (1 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195076761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195076769
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 14.4 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964. Since 1970 he has worked in New York as an art critic for Time Magazine. He has twice received the Franklin Jeweer Mather Award for Distinguished Criticism from the College Art Association of America.

Product Description


The Culture of Complaint

'Culture of Complaint,

'Culture of Complaint


Culture of Complaint,


About the Author

Time art critic and author of two best-selling books, The Fatal Shore and Barcelona, Robert Hughes is a recognized authority on the 20th century art scene.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
JUST OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO, the poet W. H. Auden achieved what all writers envy: a prophecy that came true. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Finely-Tuned Blast At PC 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer
I thoroughly enjoyed Hughes' lively and pointed skewering of the apostles of PC and their tiresome love of victimhood. I must question how closely the Kirkus Reviews writer (cited above) read "Culture of Complaint" because the reviewer takes Hughes to task for not addressing some issues in more ponderous depth. The explanation is simple and is provided in the preface: "Culture" was drawn from a series of three lectures Hughes gave at Yale University, and the lectures are presented in the book with a minimum of editing. Heavily-footnoted lectures would have been a sure path to mass narcolepsy among Hughes' original sudiences.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bold and provocative challenge to the art world. 3 July 1998
By A Customer
Robert Hughes tries to position himself somewhere in between Karen Finley and Jesse Helms in his essays about the politics of art in America. The result is that he comes out about where the Supreme Court has found itself in June 1998 -- linked to Jesse Helms anyway by critics, despite trying hard to distance himself. He apparently thinks Karen Finley is a fraud, and that's just not what the art crowd wants to hear. It was courageous of Hughes to write the book, which contains the seeds of "American Visions" (also worth reading).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Politics and Art 28 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Developed from a series of lectures given in 1992, Culture of Complaint is a discussion of political correctness, multiculturalism and the politicization of the arts in late twentieth-century America, both in academe and beyond. As an Australian art critic who had then lived in the US for more than 20 years, Hughes has brought the perspectives of both outsider and insider to bear on his topics. Although the book is intelligent journalism rather than an in-depth professional study, it is well informed and its generalisations are supported by specific examples. Hughes also strengthens his discussion by a historical perspective on the place of the arts in American life and politics. Overall, he makes a strong case for genuine tolerance and openness in the reception of the arts and rejects the extremes of both right-wing reactionaries and the politically correct separatists of identity politics. Hughes's short book represents an intelligent, reasonable voice which still has relevance to today's version of the culture wars.
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